A dog crate is not something that we want to have to use often, but it is good to have your dog crate trained in the event you need it.
Therefore, it is important that you make sure that the crate is a safe space where your pup can relax and feel at ease.
An uncomfortable crate is one that will make your dog feel uncomfortable and unhappy, no dog likes being locked up, but if there is no other option, at least make it a comfortable experience, and as stress-free as possible.
When you have the crate fitted out with all the right accessories, and comfort items, it makes it just that little bit easier to bear for Fido.
Make A Relaxing & Safe Environment
When you do crate training properly, your dog can build up a positive relationship with the crate.
This does not mean they will necessarily like it, but it means that it will be a safe space for them, and they feel comfortable with it.
It is best for you to make the crate a relaxing, positive space from the first moment your dog meets it.
For example, if you are picking up your new puppy, on the first day, make sure the crate is fitted out with cushions, blankets, and some toys. Make sure you are always there, and they can see you.
In your first days with your dog, be at home, give them reassurance, and put your heart into positive, healthy training.
Keep the crate door open, but toss treats into the back and let them discover them and realize it is not a bad or scary place.
Making Sure Your Dog Crate Is Right For Your Pup
Much like our own furniture, sizing and style are important for being comfy, so you need to find the right fit for your dog.
There are many variations, and you need to consider the specifics of your dog’s breed, size, age, and so on.
You could get a soft crate if your dog doesn’t chew (see also ‘What To Do When Your Dog Chewed Through Crate!‘). Then, for adults or adolescents who are house-trained, getting a crate they can sleep in and move around in with some fun toys and treats is most ideal.
Elderly dogs should have a larger crate, so they have enough space to move, stretch and get comfy.
The rule of thumb is a crate should be big enough for your dog to lie down in it, and turn around in it.
Dogs and most other pets don’t like sleeping in soiled areas either, so when house training your dog, remember that frequent toilet breaks are a must.
Making A ‘House’ A Home
So, you’ve found the ideal crate for your dog’s size and style, you now need to make it homier. Sure that you make a good rest spot.
It is important that if your dog needs to spend a significant amount of time in the crate (perhaps due to traveling), you need to ensure they have plenty of enrichment.
Dogs may chew and eat their bedding if they lack proper enrichment and exercise.
This can result in injury, so make sure you have plenty of toys in there for proper enrichment if they get bored, and replace bedding with a simple dog mat if you know your dog is a chewer.
Picking out a bed for the crate means you need to consider the crate size. The bed should not impede the space available for your dog to move or rest comfortably, but it should still allow them to be comfortable.
Another thing is to ensure you can give your dog access to a bowl of fresh water and some toys in the crate with them (see also ‘Should You Put Water In Your Dog’s Crate?‘). It gives them things to keep them busy and happy and ensures they are properly hydrated.
Keep Them Comfy & Safe During Crating
Comfort is about more than plush bedding and plenty of toys, you need to think about the seasons here too.
If you have a dog with a heavy coat, you may want to get a fan for your dog’s crate during the summer months when it is super hot, allowing proper ventilation.
You also want to avoid the obvious, but easily mistaken hazards, such as avoiding too much sunlight hitting the crate, or it being too close to a heat source where it would overheat your dog.
You should also remove collars or harnesses which can get easily caught inside the crate and hurt your dog, or worse.
Some people may cover their dog’s crate to help them sleep, but this is rarely a good idea, covers can make a crate heat up and can make your dog overheat (see also ‘Should You Cover Your Dog’s Crate With a Blanket?‘).
Some dogs can also get especially anxious in a covered crate, and some covers can prevent proper ventilation, so it is best avoided in general.
Never Forget About Exercise
If you are going on a long journey and must crate your dog for this, you need to ensure your dog has exercised before this, ideally half an hour to an hour of exercise before they have to enter the crate, you should also break up the crate time to allow them some more exercise.
If you are crating your dog as you are going on a road trip (or something similar), you should plan a stop to allow your dog a chance to run around, walk, and get some play time in.
A happy dog will usually not mind time in their crate, but it is always best to spruce it up a bit and use it wisely so that they have a more comfortable and homey environment.
You should not leave your dog crated for long periods of time, and remember that dogs will be happier when they have more freedom. It is best to reserve crates for only necessary use.