By Nancy Cope
There are two basic kinds of dog crates: wire crates and hard plastic crates.
Both kinds of crates can be good choices, depending on why you need a crate for your dog.
The cost of the crates is similar, so that will probably not be a deciding factor for you. Both kinds of crates can be broken down or taken apart and put together rather easily, so that, too, will probably not be too influential, although wire crates are usually more portable if you are going to training classes or taking your dog someplace local.
Hard plastic crates
If you will be flying with your dog on a plane, you will need to get a hard plastic, airline-approved crate. Airlines are very picky about the crates they allow on planes, for the safety of the dogs, and they do not accept wire crates because they can be bent during a flight, which could crush a dog.
Most hard plastic crates are airline-approved but you should look for this label or statement to make sure. Hard plastic crates have ventilation holes so air can circulate and they have a wire grill for a door so your dog can see out and have more air. Under ordinary circumstances a dog is safe in one of these crates and will not escape.
They come in two pieces (a top and a bottom) and are put together with screws and knobs around the sides. They are easily assembled in just a few minutes.
Hard plastic crates have the added bonus of being a good way to travel with your pet in your personal vehicle. If you should have an accident, the hard plastic will provide some protection for your dog and prevent him from being tossed around the vehicle or thrown out on the road.
Wire crates are a good choice for your dog if you go to training classes, dog events such as agility or obedience trials where the dog might have to wait around at the site for a few hours, or if you prefer your dog to be able to see more outside the crate.
Wire crates are more open than hard plastic crates and the dog can feel like he is part of what is going on.
They will also work as a way to confine your dog in your personal vehicle but they do not provide as much protection as hard plastic crates. If you are in an accident, a wire crate can be crushed more easily and your dog could escape. However, many people who go to lots of dog events with their dogs like wire crates because they are easier to carry than hard plastic crates and more portable. They are relatively easy to fold up and set up quickly and they collapse into a much smaller space than hard plastic crates.
Both kinds of crates are equally good if you will be using a crate at home to help with house training or as a place for your dog to sleep and hang out.
Finding a good crate
You can find good crates at your local pet store, online from vendors who sell dog products, and even at your local discount stores and building supply stores. They are not hard to find.
Most crate manufacturers provide a guide that suggests the correct size crate to get for each breed or size of dog. These guides are usually very accurate and you should follow their recommendations.
It is generally best to get the correct size crate for your dog and not get a crate that is too large. Crates that are too big for your dog are not safe if your dog is flying or traveling in your car. The more space there is in the crate, the more your dog can be thrown around in case of a turbulence or an accident, possibly causing injury.
If you will be using the crate for house training, extra space would allow the dog to poop in his crate which would defeat the purpose of using the crate for house training. However, if your dog will simply be sleeping in the crate, you can get a crate as big as you like.
Crates are great for dogs and most dogs like them once they have been introduced to them. Which kind of crate you get for you dog is really a matter of personal preference, unless you will be flying on a plane with your pet. In that case you will need to get a hard plastic, airline-approved crate. Happy crate training!
Nancy Cope is the owner of four rescue dogs and Pampered Dog Gifts.