Perfect Puppy Care Book – Chapter 3 – Supplies (Part 3)
Chapter 3 – Supplies (Part 3)
A crate is a rectangular cage made of a variety of sturdy materials (such as plastic or wire) used to keep an animal confined. It’s a very important tool for training your puppy. You can use a crate to:
- Housetrain your puppy. Most puppies will not soil their dens. By confining your puppy in a crate on a regular schedule (appropriate for her age and activity level), you’ll be teaching her bladder and bowel control.
- Keep your puppy safe. Puppies will put just about anything in their mouths, including things that could hurt them. Confining your puppy in a crate when you can’t supervise her closely will ensure that she isn’t chewing or swallowing something dangerous.
- Help your puppy heal should she become injured. Hopefully, your puppy will grow up healthy and whole. But what if she injures a leg? Your veterinarian may tell you that you need to keep your puppy still for a certain period of time. This task is much easier to accomplish with a crate.
- Travel with your puppy. Puppies never should be loose in your car while you’re traveling—there’s too much risk that they could become injured if you have an accident. By putting your puppy in a crate and securing the crate to your vehicle’s seat or floor, your puppy will be safely buckled up like the rest of your family.
How do you know what kind of crate to get? Some crates are better suited for certain purposes. For example, if you’re trying to housetrain your puppy, it’s best to get a crate that is just large enough for her to stand up, stretch out, and turn around in. Anything larger and she could urinate in a corner and stay dry all day, which will not help to teach her bladder control. As she grows older and you housetrain her, give her more room with a larger crate.
Let’s review the common types of crates, along with their advantages and disadvantages.
Plastic crates are very versatile. They’re good for confinement and housetraining your puppy and convenient for travel. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are usually less expensive than other types of crates. Many come in two parts—a top and bottom—that are connected by bolts and screws. This makes the crate easy to take apart for cleaning, although some plastic crates have raised sections in the bottom that can be awkward to clean. Be sure to tighten the screws regularly because they can become loose over time.
If you have a large-breed puppy, you may want to pass on a plastic crate unless you don’t mind purchasing several to accommodate her change in size as she grows. If you get a large crate to start with, try to block a portion of it to make it smaller.
Plastic crates provide a limited view, which may be beneficial for some dogs. A shy puppy, for example, may feel safer in an enclosed den. A reactive puppy—one who barks at every little sight or sound—may be less likely to react to things that she can see from within the more limited view of a plastic crate.
If your puppy is a chewer, she may find the plastic irresistible. This can cause some rough edges. Try using some chew-deterrent spray to dissuade her from nibbling on her crate.
Wire crates are also very versatile and are good for confinement, housetraining, and travel. They come in a variety of sizes and finishes—plain wire, epoxy-coated wire (which is more rust resistant), and more. These sturdy crates are usually appropriate for strong chewers. They feature a metal or plastic bedpan in the bottom that pulls out for easy cleaning. While this is convenient, if your puppy should become ill and have diarrhea or vomit, it could overspill the bedpan and go onto your carpet or floor.
Many wire crates come with dividers. This is very convenient if you have a large-breed puppy. You simply put the divider in to limit your puppy’s space, and then move it as she grows older.
Wire crates offer your puppy a better view than the majority of plastic ones. If she is shy, it may not feel as safe to her. If she is reactive, it may make it too easy to see things that could trigger her barking. If you prefer a wire crate but find that the view is not working for your puppy, consider getting a crate cover. These fit over the tops and sides (but not the front) of a crate and come in a variety of fabrics to match your decor. Make sure that the cover does not get inside the crate or your puppy could chew on it.
The spacing between wires varies. Choose a crate that has holes small enough so that your puppy cannot catch her paws in them, or she could become tangled and injured.
Many wire crates fold up conveniently for storage or travel. If you get a “suitcase-style” wire crate it will have handles for carrying.
Canvas crates are great for confinement and travel, but are not ideal for puppies that are not yet past the chewing stage. Puppies are teething at four to five months of age, and their back molars come in at around eight months. If you like the canvas crates, purchase one when your puppy is through their chewing-stage. This will ensure that your puppy will not turn your investment into a chew toy!
Canvas crates can be harder to clean than other types of crates, because they’re made of fabric. Some brands feature removable and replacement covers.
Soft-sided carriers are great for traveling. They’re basically a small purse or piece of luggage with a shoulder strap for carrying. They are appropriate for toy or small-breed dogs. For short-term travel, a soft-sided carrier may be a convenient choice. However, because they are not sturdy enough to resist chewing, they are not suitable for confinement or housetraining purposes.
Other Types of Crates
Because crate training has become so popular, a lot of other options are available to puppy owners. You’ll see ads for wicker or rattan crates, and some that even double as beautiful solid wood furniture. If you want a crate that is fashionable as well as practical, be sure to pick a crate that’s best for your puppy. For example, if your puppy is chewing, then a wicker or rattan crate will not hold up to puppy teeth. You may want to start with a more traditional type of crate and wait until your puppy is older or an adult before you splurge on a fashionable one.
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