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Crating is truly a good thing, especially since dogs are denning animals. And it should never be sure as incarceration or punishment. (More on that in another post.)

Now that we have that out of the way, let me explaining what “denning” means. Your dog is a den animals, just like coyotes and wolves, bears, raccoons . . . the list goes on.

Your dog’s crate is its den. It’s happy place, where it can go to be safe and comfortable.

For your dog to be comfortable in its “den”, the crate must be the right size. Not too big (especially for puppies) and definitely not too small. You don't want your dog to feel cramped.

In my world, there are two kinds of crates - a wire crate or an airline-style crate. Dogs often prefer the airline-style crate because it feels more den-like. And some dogs acting out in a wire crate will actually settle down when you switch to an airline-style crate.

So how do you figure size of crate for your dog?


  • Height - Comfortable head clearance when standing and sitting.

  • Width - Room for an off-hip lie down.

  • Length - Room for your dog to do a lie down from nose to tail.

  • All these equate to your dog being able to get up, comfortably turn around and lie down.


People often go with a wire crate because it can be “adjustable,” fitting the pup’s size as it grows. How? With a wire panel that can be moved to either enlarge or shrink the area that the puppy can use. This, of course, precludes an airline-style crate. But I’ve known some puppy owners to switch from wire to airline once the pup attains it’s full size.

Thinking that you can use a big crate your pup can grow into is a nice idea, but housebreaking will sometimes be a problem here with the little guys. Too often, if a young pup can pee or poop in one part of the crate and sleep in the other - and it often will - housebreaking can take a turn for the worse. Therein lies the problem. Too much room.

Get out a tape measure and figure your dog’s size. Don’t forget to add inches for your dog’s “comfort “zone.” Don’t cram your dog in a space it won’t be happy in.

Imagine yourself in your bedroom where the ceiling is low and you have to duck your head the whole time you’re in there. Uncomfortable, isn’t it? Image how your dog would feel with his “ceiling” being so low. Or short. Or narrow.

There are a number of new versions of dog crates showing up in the marketplace, some very sturdy ones as well. All serve the same purpose.

Crating can be a huge benefit for your dog. And for you.

Use it wisely.


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