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How to find a comfortable crate for your dog

Many trainers and veterinarians recommend that dog owners buy dog crates as soon as possible after buying or adopting a dog. A pet owner's choice of crate can go a long way toward ensuring the dog reacts positively to the crate.

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers recommends the use of crates for puppies and dogs as a short-term training tool and as a safety precaution throughout the dog's life. Crates can be invaluable in house training young dogs and helping to curtail destructive behavior, such as chewing. As more people travel with their pets, crates also provide a safe and convenient confinement option in the car, on an airplane and in pet-friendly hotel rooms.

Crates also offer a cozy spot dogs can call their own. Crates can feed dogs' need for security. When used correctly, and not as punishment for a dog, crates can serve as comforting retreats for dogs when they need alone time.

Where to buy?

Crates can be purchased at most pet supply retailers, and they also are available at many department stores, hardware stores and online retailers. Pet owners who desire certain materials or have special requirements of their dog crates probably can find the biggest selection at pet supply stores.

What size to get?

It is important to consider the size of the dog when purchasing a crate. The crate shouldn't be too big nor too small. Choose a crate in which the dog can sit up straight without banging its head on the top of the crate. Dogs also should be able to turn around with ease and lie down on their sides with paws extended.

Many pet owners make the mistake of getting a larger crate than is necessary. Dogs do not like to soil in their sleeping areas, but crates that are too large may encourage pooches to use one end as a bathroom and the other as a sleeping area, and ultimately that can make dogs less enthusiastic about crates. Also, crates that are too large will not provide the feeling of security dogs crave.

According to Labrador Training HQ, measure the dog while he is standing upright from nose to the base of the tail. Add five to six inches to this measurement, and that will be an ideal length for the crate. Also measure the dog while he is sitting upright. Again, add a few inches to the measurement, and this will be the minimum height of the crate.

What about a growing puppy?

Some owners prefer to upgrade crates as their dogs grow. Budget-conscious pet owners can buy a larger crate and then use a divider to size it down for puppy use. The divider can be moved as necessary when the puppy grows.

What are the different crate materials?

Crates come in plastic, metal wire, wood, and nylon or another fabric material. Each has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. Wire crates are what many people envision in a crate, and such crates are among the most popular because they provide ventilation, an easily cleaned floor tray, folding capabilities, and visibility for the dog. However, some dog owners feel wire crates bear too close a resemblance to cages.

Fabric crates can be cozy and light, but dogs that are prone to scratching and tearing may be able to escape them easily. Plastic crates can be more private, and wood crates can be customized to fit with the décor of the house.

Pet owners should shop around to find which crate best fits the needs of their dogs. If crates will remain in the home, a more attractive crate may be a priority. If the crate will be used for travel, something lighter and more portable may be the best fit.

Crates can be handy tools for dog owners, as crates provide a safe environment for dogs when owners aren't home and can make great places for dogs to curl up in when they need a break from stimulation. Crates also are handy for travel. For more information on the right crate, speak with a vet or consult with employees of a pet supply retailer.