The first time I showed up at a training for search dogs, I was amazed by all the various crates people had in their cars. I’d seen regular plastic crates, but I had no idea there were wire crates, or soft crates. I thought to myself, why would I ever need more than a single plastic crate? Now, nine years later, I’ve owned every kind of crate I saw that day, and some besides. Of course, I have my favorites, and I see now that you need different crates for different occasions.
Hard crates are the only thing I use for puppies or dogs in training. The kind you buy depends on where you’ll use it and how much money you want to spend.
Midwest iCrate/Wire Crate
This is an inexpensive crate for your puppy/dog. It will work for crate training and potty training. It’s sturdy, and your dog can see out. There’s plenty of ventilation. It will fold down for easy storage. However, metal crates come with some disadvantages. They’re heavy. They rattle in the car, and they don’t trap vomit/dirt. I’ve also seen some amazing YouTube videos of dogs escaping from these crates, but none of my dogs have ever gotten out. (I believe the Boxer escaping from this particular video has anxiety issues.)
Ruff Tough Kennels
This is hands down my favorite crate. It’s a single solid piece, and very strong. It’s much heavier than any plastic crate I’ve ever owned. You can buy handles to move it from place to place, and the holes provide plenty of ventilation. You can also open the crate door from both sides without hassle. Why spend $300 on this particular plastic crate? When I’m traveling with my dog, it’s another layer of protection if I’m in a car accident. To me, that’s worth the money.
When I read over the reviews on Amazon, people complained that their dog tore right through whatever soft crate they reviewed. Soft crates are not for puppies or dogs that aren’t crate trained. I only use them after my dog has been in a metal or plastic crate for a year. If they learn they can scratch their way out as a puppy, there’s no point in buying one.
Have I had soft crates destroyed by dogs that are crate trained? Yep, more than once. Quincy, at only nine pounds, managed to scratch her way out of one! Rook, at 18 months, tore through a soft crate in my hotel room. (I think it was because we were in a new place. At home, he was fine in a soft crate.) So, they don’t work for every dog. I’m lucky, because they work really well for Kinsey. She’s a rule follower, and doesn’t even try to bust her way out of any crate!
Boots and Barkley
This is an amazing crate for traveling! It folds up so small that you can put it in your suitcase and not have to pay the airline an extra fee. Then it pops up like a tent and your dog can relax inside! After a few uses it will start to tip, and the zippers don’t last long, but if you want an inexpensive crate to use in a hotel for a trip, this is it.
PetNation Port a Crate
This is a reasonably priced soft crate. I purchased this brand several times in different sizes because they’re inexpensive, and I wasn’t sure how a soft crate would work for my dogs. My main issue with this brand was that after about a year, the zipper would jam, or not move at all, and so the crate was useless. This happened to me on at least three of these crates, so I stopped buying them.
This is by far my favorite soft crate! It can be opened from the top, front or the sides. It’s lightweight. It folds down flat to be packed away. It’s easy to set up and take down. The zippers have never failed me.
Crates are an investment, but I use them daily. I suggest you have one ready to go before you bring a new dog or puppy home! You will use it for potty training, crate training, car trips and a peaceful night’s sleep! Done right, a crate becomes a safe haven for your dog. They’re worth the cost!