How To Find The Right Size For Your Dog’s Perfect Crate

How To Find The Right Size For Your Dog’s Perfect Crate

The crate is a natural happy place for your dog, but only if you have the right one. Size is one of the single most important factors to consider when choosing the right crate, and when you’ve found the perfect one you and your dog will both benefit. When asking yourself “What size crate for my dog is best?” you’ll want to consider a few things first to find your answer.

Why A Crate?

First and foremost, crates are for any dog, and they serve many purposes. From the little ones to the biggest breeds, dogs are natural den animals who find peace, comfort, and security in having a small space to call their own. According to the AKC, or the American Kennel Club, “Enclosed spaces create a shelter for your dog to rest and relax. Dogs instinctively seek small spaces to create protective shelters for themselves.” In the absence of outdoor dens or caves, your dog has their crate. You can provide them with that space that can give them such comfort and joy. 

How To Find The Right Size For Your Dog’s Perfect Crate

Aside from providing a place for comfort, crates serve a few very practical purposes as well. If you plan to travel with your dog, many airlines require dogs to be crated in order to travel safely. A dog that is crate trained, and has been provided with a safe, travel-ready crate, will be able to be kept comfortably and calmly during the course of a flight. Travel doesn’t just mean airlines, either. During road trips, dogs are kept safest in a crash-tested crate. In their crate, they’re kept calm, they’re unable to distract the driver, and they’re secure should an accident occur.

There is no area of the United States immune to natural disasters, and this is the third situation where a crate really comes in handy. Blizzards, earthquakes, hurricanes, tropical storms, floods – no matter what disasters may happen in an area, having a crate trained dog when evacuations are a possibility is doing the very best for your best friend. According to the AKC, it’s one of the most important reasons to crate train your dog and to have a safe crate on hand for them to use when needed. Evacuating a scared or nervous dog is much easier when they’ll happily take to their crate, and if you find yourself in a situation where you’re required to spend time in a safety shelter, having a crate will be a must. It’s better to have a crate and a crate trained pup when you need to than to find yourself in a surprise situation and wondering how you’re going to navigate it with a stressed and anxious dog.

Lastly, crates make easy work of housebreaking puppies or rescue dogs who are a little behind in their training. According to the AKC, dogs won’t want to mess where they eat or where they sleep. While a non-crated dog can sneak away in the blink of an eye to have an accident, a crated dog will let you know when it’s time to go. Additionally, giving them crate time will also help them to strengthen their bladder muscles over time. They won’t have the option to simply go as soon as they feel the urge when crated, instead having to wait just a little while to let you know they have to go, leave the crate, walk outside, find their spot, and then go “potty”.

How Big Should A Dog Crate Be?

You’ll only get all of the benefits of crate training if you have the right sized crate. With a crate that’s too large, your dog won’t have that feeling of a safe, secure, and cozy den. Puppies in a crate that’s too large might find a corner to relieve themselves in, taking away the housebreaking benefit. If the crate is too small, your dog will feel cramped, uncomfortable, and anxious. Either way, you’re not getting the full benefit that a correctly sized crate provides.

How To Find The Right Size For Your Dog’s Perfect Crate

There is a method to answering the question, “What size crate for my dog is best?” You’ll want to break out the measuring tape, and do the following:

  • First have your dog stand up straight on all four legs. While standing straight, measure the front foot all the way up to the top of the shoulder. Generally, you’ll want to find a crate that is around 6 to 8 inches taller than the height of the shoulder according to Your Dog Advisor. If you have a young rambunctious dog, and they have a little trouble standing still and up straight long enough for you to measure accurately, there is a little trick to make things easier. Have your dog stand up straight and stand next to them, mark the spot your dog’s shoulder hits on your leg with a piece of chalk and measure the height on your leg using a soft tape measurer.

    If measuring from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head, add about 2 to 3 inches to the measurement according to the AKC.
  • Height isn’t the only important measurement to consider when finding how big should a dog crate be. To measure length, run a tape measurer from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. When you have the length measurement, add about 3 to 4 inches to the measurement to get your correct crate length.

When determining what size crate for my dog, in short, measure from the foot to the shoulder and add 6 to 8 inches, or the foot to the top of the head and add 2 to 3 inches. After your height measurement, measure from the nose to the tip of the tail and add 3 to 4 inches. Your height and length measurements give you how big should a dog crate be.

Important Features To Look For In A Crate

When looking around for a dog crate, you’ll quickly see just how many options there are on the market. Not every dog crate is going to be the right fit, so knowing what features to look for is important in ensuring you’re making the perfect choice.

If you want to travel with your dog, you’ll want to make sure your crate is crash tested. Only crash tested crates can ensure they have your dog’s safety in mind should an unexpected accident occur. Peace of mind is important when traveling, and crash tested crates provide just that.

You’ll also want to make sure your crate is safe for excitable dogs or heavy chewers. Aluminum crates are an ideal option for heavy chewers or anxious pups, especially when they can be fitted with chew guards to ensure an added layer of safety. An anxious, bored, or excitable dog can put themselves at risk of danger when they’re able to chew apart and dismantle their crate, so added durability is important for added peace of mind.

Crate Training Tips For A Safe And Happy Dog

Once you’ve found the perfect crate, it’s time to get your dog acclimated to using it and enjoying the time they spend in it. First and foremost, your dog should have their collar removed before entering the crate whether they’re fully crate trained or just starting the crate training process. According to Woof & Beyond, a collar that is worn in the crate may pose a risk to your dog should the collar get stuck on a part of the crate, on a toy or object kept in the crate, or on your dog’s paw while scratching or adjusting in the crate. For dogs who wear collars regularly, it’s important that any unsupervised crate time also be “naked” time.

How To Find The Right Size For Your Dog’s Perfect Crate

A very helpful tip during the crate training process is to make sure that the crate is always associated with happy things. Pet parents may feed their dogs in their crate while starting the crate training process. They may have special toys that they reserve only for when their dog is in the crate. They can outfit the crate with comfort items like a blanket or crate pad. Pet parents can even invent crate games that help to make the crate a fun place for them and their pups. While playing a little fetch in the house, tossing the ball into the crate to encourage the dog to go in and retrieve it is a fun way to turn crate training into a game. For dogs who love nose work, hiding a few toys in their crate wrapped up in a blanket is enticing as well.

In order to keep the crate positive, it’s crucial to make sure it’s never negative. It might be tempting to give your pup a “time out” when they’re being rambunctious and naughty, but that time out shouldn’t be spent in the crate. The crate should never be viewed as a punishment space, but one that is synonymous with comfort and safety. After scolding your dog, sending them to the crate is the easiest way to create a negative association. If your dog is being a bit too excitable, a brief game of fetch, a walk, or some nose work to burn out some of the excess energy followed by some “cool down” time in the crate is a much more effective idea.

“What size crate for my dog is best?” and “How big should a dog crate be?” are two common questions that pet parents everywhere ask themselves when breaking into crate training. By taking a couple of measurements, and making plenty of positive associations, any pup can learn to love their crate and reap all the rewards from it. 

Back to blog