Crate training
March 17, 2006 12:08 PM   Subscribe

We will be adopting an 8 month old chow-mix puppy next week and would like to crate train him.

We’ve never crate trained a puppy before, so don’t know whether to purchase an all wire mesh type or Veri-Kennel (plastic/wire) type crate. His projected adult size will be 45-75 lbs so is that the size we should buy?
posted by lola to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would go ahead and get him a size large enough to accomodate him when he is an adult dog. An 8-month old dog should be almost full grown. If needed, you can simply block off part of the crate for now if it's still too big for him.

When our lab was a puppy, we blocked off one end of the crate with a piece of masonite so he couldn't poop at one end and then go lay down in the other. He was trained in about a week.

As far as plastic vs. wire, we had a wire one. I don't think it really matters, though.
posted by Ostara at 12:20 PM on March 17, 2006

If you buy something big, make sure it has a divider that can be used to make it a smaller area inside, or the crate training will not work. You can start it out small, and expand it as he grows.

The wire mesh types usually have these dividers, but the plastic crates might make the dog feel more "secure" inside. We started our pug in a plastic-walled crate, and she feels more secure in it than in the wire crate we have now. However, you can just drape a few towels around the edge, and she settles down.
posted by MrZero at 12:20 PM on March 17, 2006

I had good experience with a Veri-Kennel -- they come apart easily for storage, although a wire mesh one might do so as well. As for size, you'll want to get one for the projected adult size -- big enough so the dog can turn around in.

For puppyhood, you can always throw in blankets and plush animals to fill the space. Although, with my dog, the extra size at puppyhood wasn't an issue. YMMV.
posted by frogan at 12:22 PM on March 17, 2006

Our dauschund / beagle mix chewed her way out of a plastic crate. I'd go with metal. Also, the metal crates fold relatively flat - which is useful.
posted by COD at 1:04 PM on March 17, 2006

I would wait to buy the crate until you see how big the dog is. The crate should only be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. Anything larger and it might not have the desired effect for housetraining, because it might go in the crate if there's enough room.

Some other crate training tips:

- Along with toys, put an unwashed tshirt of yours in the crate with the dog, it will be comforting and they'll get used to your scent.
- Whenever you take the dog out of the crate, take it outside immediately to do its bidness and play with it for a while. After some time, you can just start extending the time that it spends outside of the crate until it doesn't need to be crated during the day any longer.

I bought a mesh crate for my dog when he was a puppy (Boston Terrier, so ymmv) and it was excellent. It had lots of windows so he could look out from all directions, and it had zippered openings on the top as well as the sides, so I could easily put him in it from all directions.

The only downside of it is that he tore his little paws up scratching the mesh at first, but he stopped doing that pretty quickly, because, ouch.
posted by pazazygeek at 1:15 PM on March 17, 2006

Best answer: I do dog rescue, and deal with a lot of crate situations (plus I currently have a puppy that we are crate training). I don't have a strong opinion either way, as each has their pros and cons.

Plastic crates need regular washing, or they will become funky-smelling due to the lack of air circulation. Your dog will be ok with the funk, but you may not, especially if your crate will have a place of honor in a central location in the house. Wire crates, when they do get messy, are harder to clean because of all the little nooks and crannies. And they do rust if the vinyl coating wears (or is chewed) off.

If your pup has a projectile diarrhea or vomiting incident, or just can't control his normal bowel movement while in the crate for whatever reason, solid plastic crates will contain the mess. I've known dogs who purposely backed up to the edge of a wire crate so that their poop would fall outside the crate.

Consider also that you will probably have to put your crate in your car. Some dogs need that security in order to be good car riders, and some don't care. I've known dogs who get carsick outside of crates (see above paragraph re: solid crates containing messes better). So consider the size of your car when picking out a crate. There are traveling crates that are soft-sided that can fit into tight spaces. You can also use these for your regular crate, but they aren't necessarily made to endure long-term constant use.

If you have little children who may poke at puppy, get the solid kind.

Chows are hairy beasts, so a solid crate will contain the shedding better, but you'll have to clean it out more frequently.

Consider how easy or hard it is for you to carry the crate (even empty, some of those suckers are HEAVY). You'll probably have to lift it to move it for heavy-duty washing, or to put in your car, or to vacuum or wash the floor. Some have handles in places that make it less awkward to carry, and some do not.

Lastly, the crate may become a permanent fixture, as some dogs continue to use them as their personal little cave long after the need for crate training has passed. So whatever you buy should be durable, and/or something you can live with long-term.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:15 PM on March 17, 2006

Best answer: Wire crates, all the way. They fold flat. Some come with dividers that can section the crate off as the pup grows to its full size. The coated kind can be sprayed down with a hose and left out to air-dry. They're fairly durable, too -- after three years of hard use, the coating on mine is only worn down on the door latches. Get one that has a plastic pan on the bottom, not a metal one. It'll make more noise when the dog shuffles its big clawed feet around, but it won't rust.

They are freakishly heavy, more so than they'd look. My Boxer's crate weighs 42 pounds. I think a Chow would need something similar.

If you cover the crate with cloth to make it more den-like, make sure the cloth is pulled tightly around it. My dog will shred stuff trying to get it inside. Sunday paper accidentally left on top of the dog's crate? Really not fun to clean up.

My dog loves her crate. She'll go in there to nap during the day, or to chew on toys, and she chooses to sleep in there at night. I've accepted that I will have a honking big dogbox in the house for as long as I have my dog.
posted by cmyk at 3:48 PM on March 17, 2006

As a side note, wire cages are generally made of panels - hence the folding flat feature- but this leaves an opening where a very determined dog can wedge themselves.* My family's dogs have always prefered the enclosed, den/like feeling of their solid cages. The Veri-Kennel type will come apart into two halves that can be stacked if transport is an issue! I think the attitude and behaviour of your particula dog might determine what kind of cage you need!

*Personal terrifying experience of coming home to the housemates hound having make a chinese finger trap of her neck and the opening between the side and front panels of her wire cage. I was all alone and it took me almost 45 minutes to get her disentangled without killing her. By far one of the worst experiences of my life. She also pulled MANY things into her wire cage and shredded them. I tell you this as a personal anecdote, something to be aware of if your puppy REALLY doesn't take to crate training.
posted by nelleish at 11:59 AM on March 18, 2006

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