How to Choose the Right Dog Kennel
Let's look at the different dog crates available today so you can better decide which style and size is best for your needs.
Hard Plastic Carriers and Dog Crates
Hard plastic kennels and carriers are made of thick, heavy plastic and usually have a handle on the top for easier movement. There are slits in the sides or shapes cut out for airflow. The door can be made of metal or plastic with a secure latch mechanism for the dog's safety. These styles come in all sizes from the very small for rabbits and small pets, to the very large for a large breed dog.
Pros - Hard plastic kennels are excellent for traveling with a dog. They provide protection against injury in a car accident. This type of dog kennel can also withstand damage better from a pet that does not want to be inside. The price points are usually lower on plastic kennels as well.
Cons - Some dog's don't like the complete enclosure or darkness of a hard plastic kennel or carrier. A carrier with a plastic door may not be as secure as a better made one with a wire door. The clips that secure the top and bottom may be lost easily, or break if made of plastic. These types of kennels can't be split to make them smaller. A large breed puppy owner may have to invest in more than one of these types as their dog grows.
Recommendations - Invest in a well made kennel so it will last throughout the dog's life, or can be passed down to another pet. Do not purchase a hard kennel that is too large for the dog as injury could occur if the kennel is jostled to much.
Open Air Kennels and Cages
These dog kennels appear to be more like a cage. Some come with a raised floor, great for puppy training and keeping pets cleaner. The larger open air kennels usually come with a divider to make the kennel smaller for a puppy. The divider can be moved to accommodate the dog as it grows.
Pros - Much better air flow for the dog inside the open air kennel. Pets can see out on all four sides and the top, which may ease the fears of some dogs. A large kennel can be purchased and sized for the pet as it grows, cutting the need to replace an outgrown dog crate. Most fold down to lay flat for easy storage when not in use. A raised floor grate can be added to keep an untrained puppy out of a mess.
Cons - A quality open air kennel is far more expensive than a plastic crate or carrier. A large breed dog can damage a wire kennel fairly quickly. Some dogs can escape from this type of kennel. Some dogs feel less secure in a cage type of enclosure. It may be harder to train a puppy since it can watch you walk away.
Recommendations - Invest in a kennel made from heavy gauge wire to withstand a destructive pet. When buying a large kennel for a dog to grow into, make sure it has a divider panel to make the crate smaller until more room is needed. If purchasing a wire crate with a raised floor panel, make sure the floor panel has small enough gaps between the wire that the dog's feet do not get stuck between them.
A dog crate is a "must have" supply for every owner, even if you don't normally have the dog kennel at night or when you are away. It's much safer for pets to travel inside of a hard carrier. Having a kennel available at all times also gives the dog a place of refuge when things in the home get to chaotic. Take the dog with you when choosing a crate for proper sizing.
Photo credit: By Chaoticfluffy (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
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