James Livingood has been a dog sitter for several years. He has written numerous articles and a book about the topic because he loves dogs.
Finding the Best Dog Crate
Finding a dog carrier for large dogs is not always easy. Small and medium-sized dogs have plenty of design options, but with larger dogs, you need to keep functionality in mind. Here are some tips on how to find the right carrier for your large canine friend.
What to Consider When Buying a Dog Crate
- Know your dog’s approximate weight: Many options for larger dogs are based not just on size, but also the weight of the dog. A 95lb (43kg) dog has different needs than a 120lb (54kg) doggie. In addition to the weight of the dog, the carrier may also have some substantial weight. This may be crucial if you struggle to move or pick up your dog.
- Think about space when not in use: Some carriers fold up when not in use. For people that run low on space, this might be an excellent option. This is also an excellent option if the weight of the carrier is a concern. However, be careful when buying collapsible or cloth based crates, as many are designed for smaller dogs. Verify the weight capacity and size of animal that can fit.
- Know your dog’s chewing habits: If your dog is a puppy or trying to figure what is/isn’t a toy, keep an eye on their carrier. Cloth-based carriers can be quickly destroyed; plastic carriers can hold up for a longer amount of time. It’s also crucial to put toys in with the dog if that helps distract them.
- Wheels and other accessories: While it may be tempting to find a carrier with wheels, you may want to resist this urge. The main problem with crates on wheels is that the floor does not stay level when you’re wheeling it around. That can lead to a very uncomfortable ride for your pet and can cause damage. For example, if you need to go up a curb, that requires the wheels to become unlevel.
- Think outside the carrier: Knowing the purpose of a dog carrier is part of finding the problem. If you just need to transport your pet, it might make more sense to buy a metal car barrier. This way, your dog can jump in the back of the vehicle, without having the option to invade the passenger area. Be careful on this one though, as some dogs may want to chew mesh car barriers. One great thing about this option is it allows the owner to set up a regular bed/toy area. In addition, if trained properly, dogs can become used to jumping in and out of the car. That means no heavy lifting. The downside to this option is that it does not allow you to crate your dog if you’re away from the house.
- Train your dog before you go anywhere: The first introduction to a carrier/crate should not be when you’re in a hurry. Instead, make sure to train your dog that this place is good and comfortable. That way, when you are ready to leave, you don’t have to fight with your dog. This preparation is essential and can often be overlooked.
Tips for Crate Training Your Dog
A few tips before beginning:
- Crate training should never be a punishment. This needs to be a happy place, or the dog will avoid it.
- Don’t leave your dog in there too long. Beyond potentially not having water/food, your pet may need to use the bathroom. In addition, they may become bored and start to destroy things.
- Only crate a dog if they're being destructive, and you can’t watch them. Dogs need to learn what is and isn’t a toy. In addition, they need room to move. Part of being a responsible dog owner is teaching your dog to live in a human world (not just put the animal in a small box).
- Puppies shouldn’t be crated for more than two or three hours since they are still learning how to control their bladders.
How to Crate Train Your Dog
- Introduction: Introduce your dog to the new carrier. A great idea might be to put a treat inside. Make sure to leave the door open so that the dog can freely go in and out of the area. The idea isn’t to complete this training in one swoop but to slowly take baby steps.
- Food: The next step is to create a command for going into the crate. Every time the dog goes in the carrier, they get a treat. Repeat this often and on multiple occasions. The idea is to tie the command with the action.
- Crating while in the room: The third step is to close the door for a little bit. The idea is to show them that it’s not a big deal to have the door closed. Again, continue to give them treats as they learn this idea. Keep yourself in the room and slowly increase the time the door is closed.
- Crating while slightly out of the room: The fourth step can be the hardest. This step is where you leave the room for longer and longer periods of time. Make sure to make the carrier as comfortable as possible and potentially have toys in there.
- Crating for longer periods: The final step is to leave the dog alone for longer periods of time. Be careful when first taking this step, because they may behave differently for the first time. It’s also good to let them out to pee/poo before crating them. You’ll also want to let them outside right when you come back home.
What to Avoid When Crate Training
If your dog whines when being left in a crate and they’ve been let outside to pee/poo, it may be best to ignore them. This golden rule of training is extremely hard for many dog owners. If the owner gives in and lets the dog out of the carrier, this will teach the dog to whine to get out of the crate.
You want to choose when to let your dog out of the crate to avoid encouraging bad behavior. A lot of separation anxiety in dogs comes from owners who bend to their dog’s will. That leads to spoiled and troublesome doggies.