Dog crates

Why a dog crate is indispensable – Part 3

Shopping for dog crates

Once available in only two styles and one color – wire or molded plastic in basic beige – pet carrier crates nowadays come in a variety of materials and colors, and in several basic types. There are advantages and disadvantages to each model, depending upon how you want to use your crate.

Plastic carriers, the most popular

The plastic models have ventilation on each end and is the only one of the crate types that airlines accept for transporting a dog. It gives the dog the most protection from anything dangerous that may be falling inside, and keeps the dog warm during cold weather.

When you purchase a crate, it usually comes disassembled in three big pieces: a top and bottom section, and a metal door with a locking device. You’ll also receive a small plastic bag containing all the screws needed to put the carrier together. Don’t worry – it’s easy to do. You don’t need any special tools and the sides snap together within minutes.

Plastic crates range in price, depending upon the precise design. Although the doors on most of these models open on one side, some styles have doors you can open on either the right or the left sides, and some have different types of locks. Other crates may have wheels on the bottom for easy transport, or may have sloped sides designed to fit into a car a little easier.

Important tip

When choosing a plastic crate, look for a model that is labeled “Airline Approved” by the manufacturer because it indicates the strongest, sturdiest design.

Wire carriers

Resembling cages, wire crates have a metal or plastic pan on the bottom that you can remove for easy cleaning. Although wire carriers are okay for dogs, they may not be the best choice for puppies. The spaces between the wire bars look small, but a puppy of most breeds might get a toe or foot caught between the bars or in the space between the bottom pan and the bar.

Wire carriers are great to use during the summer because the greater ventilation allows air to flow through to keep your dog cooler. If it’s hot and you’re using it outdoors while camping or picnicking, be sure to place a shade cloth or sheet across the top to keep your dog nice and cool. You can also purchase an electric clip-on fan to help cool your dog.

Some wire models collapse and fold flat for easy transporting. If you’re using a wire crate in your car, find a model that fits your car the best, with doors either on the sides or on the front, or with a square or a slanted top. The top of a wire crate isn’t solid, so some dogs may feel a little vulnerable, especially those that are a little insecure. You may want to consider covering it with a sheet or large towel.