Dog Kennels - How to Select a Dog Kennel

Dog kennels, or crates as they are sometimes called, come in as many sizes, shapes, colors and prices as the dogs themselves. Maybe you’ve talked to friends who use them and think it sounds interesting, but wonder if it’s cruel. Not just that, but with so many different types to choose from, how do you make the best choice? If you’re just starting to consider whether or not to get one for your dog, this article will provide you with some answers.

It’s common knowledge that dogs are related to wolves. Wolves live in dens. For a domesticated dog, a crate acts as the dog’s den. So, crating or kenneling your dog isn’t cruel, as a general rule. It’s a way of benefiting from your dogs natural instincts. They should not be used to punish the dog, nor should you make a dog stay in one for more than six to eight hours at a time. They are meant to provide your dog with a place to sleep and get away from the hubbub of life just like a den in the wild.

If you decide to purchase a wire crate or kennel, consider looking in dog crate covers. These are sold as accessories and are a very nice addition for both you and your pooch. Your dog will enjoy the extra privacy and security that a cover will provide and you get to color coordinate a plain wire cage so that it will blend in almost seamlessly with your decor.

Different Types of Kennels

There are two major types of dog kennels and each has it's own set of features that need to be considered. You may need more than one to cover all situations. If that's the case you're definitely not alone. Many dog owners realize that they need multiple containment options for their pets and wind up buying more than one kind.

Indoor & Portable Dog Kennels

  • Collapsible / Portable / Travel
  • Wire / Plastic / Soft-Sided Fabric
  • Kennel Cover for More Privacy
  • Dog Carrier Travel Features for Auto or Air
  • Look for Accessories: Water Bottles, Dishes, Heaters, Fans, etc.

Outdoor Dog Kennels & Runs

  • Outdoor Dog Pens can be Permanent Chain Link Enclosures
  • Provide Dog Run Area for Exercise
  • Can Have a Roof or Cover for Protection from Weather / Security
  • Can Include a Kennel or Dog House for a more Den-Like Environment
  • Look for Accessories: Heaters, Automatic Waterer, etc.

Flickr image by Alanna Risse
Flickr image by Alanna Risse

Deciding on a Kennel Design

To figure out which dog kennel design would be best for your dog, let’s start by taking a good look at Spot, himself. How big is he? Is he a couch potato or an athlete? Is he a chewer? Does he like privacy or does he like to be able to see what’s going on around him? Next, take a look at why you want to purchase a crate for your dog. Will it be used inside or outside? Will you take it with you on a road trip or use it on an airplane? The answers to these basic questions will help you narrow down the range of choices.

Buying the right size is crucial. Like Goldilocks’ bed, it shouldn’t be too big or too small; it should be just right. Indoor dog kennels come in small, medium, large, extra large and custom made sizes. Your dog should be able to stand up, lie down and turn around easily and comfortably. Bigger isn’t always better.

Your three-pound Chihuahua, Julio, won’t appreciate living in a crate large enough for your next door neighbor’s Great Dane, Charles; it is simply too big. Buy the right size for your breed and he will be happy.

If you are purchasing a crate for a puppy, go ahead and get one that will fit him when he is a full-grown adult dog right from the beginning. It’s better to buy one good quality dog kennel that will last, rather than progressively larger cheap dog kennels to accommodate your growing dog. Wire crates often come with partitions that can be used to adjust the size as your puppy grows.

Outdoor Dog Kennels and Runs

If your dog will be spending the majority of his time outside, your best bet is to look into a chain link dog kennel. Outdoor dog kennels and runs need to be slightly bigger than indoor dog kennels. Your dog will use the bathroom around the perimeter, so it needs to be big enough that he will not track his business into the sleeping and eating section.

When purchasing an outside dog pen, make sure you also purchase a top for it. Not only do you want to keep your dog safely inside, you’ll want to keep other animals from getting inside and attacking or infecting your dog. A top also makes dog boarding kennels feel more den-like.

Indoor/Portable Dog Kennels

Your next consideration is whether you want a wire, plastic or soft-sided fabric kennel for your dog. If it will be used in the house or when you go on road trips, portable dog kennels are your best choice.

Soft-sided pet containment crates are inexpensive and very portable; however, if your dog is a chewer or very active, a portable wire crate would be a better choice. Use a blanket over the top if your dog needs more privacy. If you are taking your large dog on an airplane trip, the airlines insist that the dog be in a hard plastic pet carrier rather than a soft-sider.

When looking at dog kennels for sale, you will also need to get a good bed for inside, as well as food and water dishes that attach securely. Some come with water and food dishes included, but these tend to be on the small side.

Your dog will also need a chew toy and/or a blanket to keep him occupied and feeling safe.

A dog play pen or kennel can be used for many things including house training, travel or simply for sleeping.

No matter how you and your dog plan to use his new surrogate den, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, wire or plastic, small or extra large, you are now ready to go out and purchase a home that Spot will be happy to use for many years to come.

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