What You Should And Shouldn’t Keep In Your Dog’s Crate

What You Should And Shouldn’t Keep In Your Dog’s Crate

Your dog’s crate should be a comfortable space. According to Dogster, dogs will instinctively seek out small, secure, and comfortable spaces when they’re overstimulated or in need of rest. That’s exactly what the crate is for them, and knowing what to put in dog crate for comfort and for safety can help pet parents to make this an even more enjoyable experience for them.

Learning Your Dog’s Behavior First

Every dog is different, and what works for one dog may not work at all for another. For dogs who have strong destructive tendencies, or tendencies to shred or ingest materials when stressed, you may want to keep any belongings in the crate to a bare minimum. For other dogs, a favorite toy or a familiar scent may bring comfort. Before deciding what should and should not go into your dog’s crate, consider your dog’s behavior, what risks may come with that behavior, and how you can keep them safe first.

What You Should And Shouldn’t Keep In Your Dog’s Crate

What To Keep Out Of Your Dog’s Crate

Before getting into what to put in dog crate, it helps to know what should be kept out. Your dog’s crate should prioritize safety first, and this could mean limiting what is available to them to ensure you both have peace of mind during crated time. Some objects or belongings that should not be put in your dog’s crate include:

  • Collars and tags – Having a collar and tags on your dog is an excellent idea just in case they wander off, but these should be removed before loading your dog into their crate. Tags especially could get caught on the crate or a nail could get caught in the collar or tags while scratching, leading the dog to a potentially dangerous situation. Before spending time in the crate, dogs should get used to have their collars removed and replaced when it’s time to come out. If your dog is having some down-time in an open crate with your supervision, they can keep their collar and tags. In these instances, they’re able to get your attention easily should an issue occur, so there isn’t as much risk to safety. If you’re out for the day or asleep, however, it only takes a few seconds to remove a collar and potentially avoid an emergency.
  • Soft fabrics for heavy chewers – For puppies or heavy chewers, it might be best to leave those blankets or soft toys for supervised playtime. While in the crate, a bit of boredom or a few moments of anxiety is all it takes for things to get risky. If a dog ingests a squeaker out of a stuffed toy, if they ingest fabric, or if they swallow stuffing, you could be facing an intestinal blockage or choking situation – both of which are emergencies. If you’re not home when this occurs, the consequences simply aren’t worth the risk.

  • Bones or snacks – Even dogs who enjoy chewing on bones and have plenty of experience at it can swallow a bite that’s just a little too big and find themselves in a choking situation. What pet parents don’t want is for this to happen while in their crate. While a bone may help your dog to settle and relax at home outside of the crate, it’s better to keep this as an “outside of the crate” sort of activity.

What To Put In Dog Crate

What You Should And Shouldn’t Keep In Your Dog’s Crate

Knowing what not to put into your dog’s crate, it’s time to learn what you can (and should) put in your dog’s crate for optimal comfort and safety. A few things you may want to keep in your dog’s crate are:

  • A durable bed – While some dogs may not mind sleeping on bare aluminum, others like a bit of extra comfort especially if they’re crated during the night. To make your dog’s crate a cozy and comfortable space for a good nap, a durable crate pad is the perfect bed. A sturdy crate pad is built to last through even dogs who get a little destructive when bored or anxious, and it serves as a soft and easy to clean bit of cushioning for any dog who appreciates a soft place to snooze. For older dogs who may be feeling the aches and pains of age, the crate pad is a soothing solution to keep them comfortable at any age.

  • Water feeder bottle – A water feeder bottle may be something you’d want to keep in your dog’s crate in certain circumstances. It’s not typically recommended for dogs to have water bowls in their crate overnight, but if you’re getting ready to fly with your dog, you have to leave your dog in the crate for more than 4 hours during the day, or your dog is older or has a medical condition, a safe crate water option may be something you’re looking for. Water feeder bottles can be adhered to the front bars of an aluminum crate, and they function a lot like the water bottles one may use for small mammals. These can safely help your dog to keep hydrated, when necessary, without making a mess or spilling all over the crate.

  • Sturdy chew guard – Some dogs, especially when anxious, have an insatiable urge to chew. Without anything to chew in their crate, they could take this urge out on the bars or the sides of their crate. A sturdy chew guard can help give pet parents peace of mind and protect their anxious dog’s teeth. These attach to the front of the crate, so dogs aren’t able to make contact with the crate using their teeth.

  • Safe rubber toys – For heavy chewers, having a soft comfort toy simply isn’t an option. You don’t want to risk ingestion of squeakers, fabric, or stuffing, but dogs often like to have a comfort toy with them while crated for any reason. This is where safe rubber toys come in. These should be made for heavy chewers and contain no small parts a dog could potentially ingest or choke on. A Kong-type toy is a popular option for crates, particularly those with frozen goodies inside. Pet parents may take a bit of peanut butter and water, place the mixture into the center hole of the rubber Kong toy, and freeze to give their dogs a safe and relaxing treat/toy combo that’s special just for crate time.

  • Crate fan – Humans find it pretty tough to relax and fall asleep when they’re too warm or the room is too stuffy, and the same goes for dogs. A crate fan attaches to the front of the crate to keep airflow moving and temperatures comfortable whether you’re traveling or at home. Dogs are unable to sweat to cool their bodies down like humans do, and panting can only do so much when temperatures are high. A crate fan provides both comfort and peace of mind at the same time.

  • Crate cover – While a crate cover isn’t something that’s put “into” the crate, it’s certainly something that adds to the comfort and security of crate time. According to K9 Basics Dog Training, dogs tend to like having their crates covered (especially during the night) as it creates more of a den-like space for them with minimal outside stimulation. A crate cover can help to make crate training easier, it can give your dog more restful sleep in their crate at night, and it may even help to alleviate anxieties during travel or in new spaces or situations.

When choosing a crate cover, make temperature regulation a priority. An insulated crate cover with removable pieces to optimize airflow, as well as insulated panels for warmth, can be used all throughout the year and in any sort of situation. Riding with your dog in the bed of a truck? Taking your dog on a tent camping trip? The insulation provides cozy warmth.  Covering up the crate at home during the night? Unzip areas of the cover for airflow without lessening the dark and cozy den-like atmosphere.

What You Should And Shouldn’t Keep In Your Dog’s Crate

Different Needs Throughout Your Dog’s Life

Knowing what to put in dog crate for an adult dog is going to be different than for a puppy. These will be different still for senior dogs. For a puppy, what is put into your dog’s crate should be minimized, at least until the teething phase is over and you get a better feel for what kind of habits your puppy might drop or develop. For instance, some puppies are heavy chewers, diggers, and destroyers of toys, but they grow up into gentle dogs who keep the same soft stuffed toys for years. Others may not chew heavily as puppies but develop the habit as they get older. To keep your puppy optimally safe, limit what is kept in their crate and gradually introduce items as they get older and can be trusted alone with different belongings, treats, or toys.

Adult dogs who aren’t seniors will likely be able to have a bit more in their crate when it comes to comfort items or toys when compared to puppies. Pet parents will know their habits and tendencies and be able to determine what might make their dogs happiest during crate time.

Senior dogs may have less interest in toys when it comes to crate time, but pet parents may need to consider comfort items instead. A young adult dog may not need a crate pad, fan, or water bottle very often, but these could become must-have items as a dog gets a little older and prioritizes their comfort a little more.

Crate time should be a safe and happy time for dogs and their fur-parents. Knowing what to put in dog crate, and what to leave out, ensures a successful crate experience with plenty of peace of mind.

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