Need a safer crate for my French Bulldog. Please help dog folks!
December 9, 2016 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Tonight my French Bulldog got his jaw trapped in his crate. It was traumatic. Google tells me this happens to lots of breeds and the results can be fatal. What do we do?

Tonight while we ate dinner my 6 mo old French Bulldog was in his crate, and our two Chihuahua were in their crate next to his. They were all quiet but I guess the Frenchie was chewing the bar of his crate as we start hearing a horrible sound from him - a panicked yelp/scream.

His lower jaw had gotten caught in the bars, wedged in and his lower incisor was on the bar. It took both my wife and I to get him free, her pushing him toward the side of the crate (which his instinct was to pull away from) and me bending the bars out.

Fortunately we were just feet away and this whole incident was over in 30 seconds. But now we're scared--what if this happens when we're not home?

I went to Google and found this is common with many breeds. Some work their own way loose, some break teeth, and some break their jaws. One incident I read had an older dog break its jaw and it had to be put to sleep.

We have black wire crates. The one the Frenchie was in was sturdy wire that was very hard for me to bend out. The Chihuahuas are in a black wire crate that is a bit thinner...I probably could have bent those easier but I'm still not sure he wouldn't get caught.

I've also read this can happen with both plastic crates and wire crates. Some forums were all people who had this happen with plastic so they switched to wire to stop it, and vice versa.

We're a bit panicked. The thought of leaving him alone in there is a bit frightening now (even though it seems logical he'd never do this again after such a traumatic experience...but I'm not willing to bet his teeth, his jaw, or his life on it).

What sort of solution is there? He's so well crate trained we need to keep it that way.

Thanks for the help mefiers!
posted by arniec to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get a Vari-Crate. It's solid heavy duty plastic except for the opening and a couple of small side vents. These are the ones they use to ship animais, and the only ones I've ever used on all my puppers no mater the size-except for my Great Dane, of course.
Try UPCO.com for some really decent prices.
posted by donaken at 6:25 PM on December 9, 2016


Oh, and if you think the vents are too easy for you pup to get the teeth caught, you can cover them with flexible mesh (screening) or come up with one of your own mcgyver ideas.
posted by donaken at 6:28 PM on December 9, 2016


I forgot to mention, your pup needs something to chew/occupy himself while in the crate. Put some peanut butter in a smallish Kong and freeze it. Hopefully you don't crate him for too long.
posted by donaken at 6:33 PM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I trained my dog to associate his dog bed with his crate / being kenneled, then gradually moved the bed out of the crate. It took a couple months. Now the bed serves the same purpose -- he will stay in his "kennel" until you tell him he can "come out". I put his bed in the corner so he still feels safe and cozy, but I don't have to worry about caught teeth / claws or other crate-specific issues.

He has a special bone that he only gets when he's in his bed, and I never use his "kennel" as a punishment, so he has only positive associations with it and is happy and calm there.
posted by ananci at 6:49 PM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


He will do it again, I bet. This happened with my puppy. Came home to find her jaw/teeth caught in criss-cross cover of plastic crate (looks like Vari Crate?). She was soaked from crying and trying to get free. Took wire cutters to get her out. She was ultimately fine but was it absolutely terrifying. It was the second time, though I didn't know the first time because she'd managed to free herself before -- just came home to find her soaked and had no idea why until the second incident.

I got her a soft sided crate. I don't know if your dog is a major chewer -- mine was. This seven pound Cavalier managed to chew her way out (she could unzip it but I locked zippers together to prevent her unzipping), but she's part piranha. She always hated her crate (even with all recommended steps/introduction, stuffed Kongs, the works) though, which sounds like is not the case for you. If you want a crate and don't want a stuck pup, soft-sided with mesh covers might be way to go.

(I stopped crating her after the chewing incident and it worked out fine. We were both much happier. She didn't chew furniture or anything, only to find her way to freedom. I really only had the crate for her safety so she couldn't find trouble while I wasn't home, but the crate proved to contribute to trouble rather than hinder. Again, this is my dog; I know some take to crates wonderfully, but she never did.)
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 8:26 PM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


You could cut thin sheets of lexan to cover all the mesh areas of the crate. Drill a regular pattern of say 3/8ths holes for air circulation. Then black zip tie the lexan to the mesh. Time consuming but effective.

Cheaper but not as good looking would be a 1/4" hardware cloth zip tied to the mesh.
posted by Mitheral at 11:49 PM on December 9, 2016


If the problem is the corners, liberal application of zip ties will prevent there being enough play between the sides for them to come apart enough to allow something like that to happen again.

One of my dogs can easily escape from a screwed together airline-approved plastic crate even with the door completely secured. He just chews through ballistic nylon, so soft sided crates aren't an option. He was also able to escape black wire crates until I thought of securing it with zip ties.

If zip ties don't solve it, you'll need one of those aluminum or steel crates meant for hunting dogs t that normally go in a truck bed. They have bars around a quarter inch thick, so should be inescapable. The only problem with them is that they start at $500 and weigh a ton.
posted by wierdo at 2:11 AM on December 10, 2016


Not all wire crates are made the same. In my rescue transports, I've found that the black wire ones are less sturdy and durable, and we've had dogs get their jaws stuck just as you describe. You might consider stopping by a local shelter or rescue and asking where they source their crates (or even if you could buy one from them). There are sturdier ones out there if you don't mind spending a little more.

Also consider getting the smallest crate that your dog will fit in comfortably (obviously taking into consideration how long he'll be in it and the space you have in your home, etc.). The larger the crate, the longer the wires, and the more easily they'll bend.

I've also thought about those hunting dog crates as wierdo describes, but they are just too pricey for me.

Edited to add that sturdier crates have thicker wires, and are usually silver instead of black.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:17 AM on December 10, 2016


We have used a metal gun dog crate (as described above) and our nervous dog likes it because she seems to feel safer and cozier with less openings. Ours is a discontinued brand but not super heavy, and it's nice that it fits in the back of our SUV.

An alternative are the "Ruff Tough" crates sold by gundogsupply.com which are heavy plastic and have been chew-proof with our pups. They can't get their jaw caught in the opening. I really recommend them.
posted by incountrysleep at 7:45 AM on December 10, 2016


I also recommend the sof-krate.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2016


My sister's dog chewed through her soft crate about two days after getting it, got her head and a leg through, and then got stuck and was wandering around the house for hours freaking out and had to be cut out of it, which was really not fun for the dog. Dogs can definitely chew their way out, and while they might not hurt their jaws, they can twist limbs depending on how they do it. (And I say this as someone who loves her dog's soft sided crate, but my dog is not a chewer.)

With whichever crate you get, you could try getting something like an exercise pen while the dog gets used to it. The crate would go inside the pen and be really comfy, and it might lessen the dog's frustration and desire to chew its way out. It might set you back a little in house training, but would be safer.
posted by autolykos at 8:35 AM on December 12, 2016


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