January 23, 2008 7:15 PM   Subscribe

my room mate just got a dog and wants to pick up a crate. She has a few questions ....

I just adopted a dog and would like to get him crate trained. The crate would serve as an area he could view as his “personal space” when he feels stressed, threatened, or wants to be left alone, and he would also, on occasion, be placed in the crate when I leave the house for a short time. He is a 90-pound Husky and I am wondering if a wire crate would be better, or if a plastic one would serve better for this. If I got the wire one, I am worried he would break out of it but they are collapsible where as the plastic one is more sturdy, can take up more space when not in use.

Which would you recommend to use in my case? The dog’s comfort and safety is a huge key in this decision.
posted by nihlton to Pets & Animals (22 answers total)
It is very unlikely that he will break out of a wire crate. Also, if you take care in acclimating him to it, he won't ever try to break out.

I like the drop-pin wire crates because they offer a lot of visibility, although our dog preferred having a blanket draped over it to make it dark and cozy inside.
posted by AaRdVarK at 7:20 PM on January 23, 2008

If the crate is meant to serve as his "personal space" and refuge, it should be available to him at all times, and so a collapsible one that is put away probably isn't a great idea.
posted by defreckled at 7:21 PM on January 23, 2008

if he is properly trained to the crate, he won't be looking to "break out" of it. i think the choice of wire or plastic is a personal one. a plastic one does create a more den-like feel because it is more private than a wire crate. my weimaraner (70lbs) has a wire crate but i've ended up buying a cover for it to provide him with more privacy when he is in it.
posted by violetk at 7:29 PM on January 23, 2008

Collapsible wire crates are great.
posted by nev at 7:47 PM on January 23, 2008

Wire crate = cage. Dogs are denning animals, not caging animals. Cover it or get a plastic one.
posted by sublivious at 8:05 PM on January 23, 2008

There's another option: A crate that's collapsible but made out of nylon. I have one for my dog (70 lb yellow lab) and she likes it fine (though, as others have said, your dog will probably be cool chilling in whatever). The link goes to a random example I found; the one I have is from CostCo but I couldn't find it on their site.
posted by JasonSch at 8:18 PM on January 23, 2008

Wire crate = cage. Dogs are denning animals, not caging animals.

this is a really idiotic statement. in practical terms, a wire crate and a plastic crate are being used for the same purpose here.
posted by violetk at 8:24 PM on January 23, 2008

I think a wire cage with a thick cover would be as den-like as a plastic crate. I've taken the top off our plastic crate and made a cover from blankets, but so long as the dog thinks of it as a home/bed the material doesn't matter. Make the floor comfortable.
posted by anadem at 8:38 PM on January 23, 2008

My dogs love their collapsible wire crate. It's fluffed up with a pillow and covered with a fleece "blanket" when it's out at the house. The great thing about it being collapsible is that if mommy and daddy are going out of town and the kids need to visit granny and grandpa, they can take a little piece of home with them.

Get one with a solid plastic bottom (for training accidents AND comfort) and don't bother with fancy crate pads: go to a fabric store when fleece is on sale and get a couple yards of it in fun colors. My dogs pass up the fancy pads for their fleecy pieces any day. Do be willing to drop some dough on the crate though: you want one that is pretty solid and well made enough that your dog will feel secure in it.
posted by foxydot at 8:44 PM on January 23, 2008

Our English Bulldogs like their wire crates and our Yorkie has her plastic one. It's a matter of what fits your dog. For a breed that large, the benefit of being able to fold the crate up when traveling would be very helpful. We do sometimes put a towel or blanket over their crates if they are bothering each other or if the crate is in an area that is a little bit drafty. The Bulldogs would make mincemeat of a plastic crate; never had a Husky but that might be a consideration.

There is no way they think the crate is a cage. When we let them in the house, they race into the room where the crates are, knocking each other over to see who can get there first. They sleep there at night and anytime we leave the house.
posted by tamitang at 8:50 PM on January 23, 2008

We've tried the collapsible wire type, the molded plastic Vari-kennel and by random coincidence, the same nylon Costco kennel that JasonSch has for our labrador. We ended up sticking with the collapsible wire one because it's easier to keep clean, easier for me to move (because it is both lighter and breaks down to flat panels), and we like the flexibility of having a door on the short end and a door on the long end. Our Vari-Kennel only had a door on the short end. The wire panels on our Vari-Kennel also quickly rusted after a few hosings (I should have been more careful about wiping them dry) whereas the wire kennel has not rusted despite many hosings and my same lack of attention to drying. For reasons known only to my dog, he didn't take the nylon one seriously and blew through the zippered door one evening while we were traveling. I suspect he would have done much better with it had it been his only crate from the beginning. I noticed the nylon one also retained Eau de Labrador more than the other two, although I love the handiness of it otherwise as it folds flat and has a handle on top.

For all crates, I drape a dark colored but light weight cotton twin-sized sheet over the top and 3 sides, plus a thick cushion on the floor which seems to please the dog immensely.

Also, as others have said, the crate should be up at all times to give your dog a safe place to retreat at will. From that standpoint, you should pick something that fits your decor as well as your dog.
posted by jamaro at 9:05 PM on January 23, 2008

We used type type of plastic crate that splits in a separate top and bottom, which makes it very convenient for travel. Invert the top into the bottom, drop in the detached wire door, cover it with the dog's pad, and off you go.
posted by dws at 9:11 PM on January 23, 2008

Wire crate = cage. Dogs are denning animals, not caging animals.

this is a really idiotic statement.

This is why askme can't have nice things.

Wire cages and plastic crates are entirely different animals, from your dog's point of view. And your dog's POV is the only one that matters here.

The whole point of buying a crate is to provide your dog a cozy, denlike enclosure where he can go to sleep. Wire cages are rattly and noisy, and your dog can still see the whole room and everything going on in it. Airline-style crates are quieter, less drafty and darker.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:03 PM on January 23, 2008

And your dog's POV is the only one that matters here.

and yet you insist that one is better than the other. i'll be sure to tell my dog that he shouldn't really be enjoying his crate because it's wire and therefore rattly and noisy—hmm…i didn't realize that you could determine that his crate is rattly and noisy, having never seen it nor met him. i'd never heard it make a noise myself but maybe you know better…
posted by violetk at 11:12 PM on January 23, 2008

Just my two cents...I might suggest going for the least expensive crate (many rescue groups sell used crates), because there's no telling how long your dog will use it. For example, when we adopted a retired racing greyhound, all the literature we received emphasized having just the right crate placed in a quiet place, as racers are used to being crated, etc. We bought the largest wire crate we could find, put a comfy bankie in the bottom along with a few toys, etc. We brought him home on a Saturday, and by the following Wednesday he didn't go inside his crate at all, he instead wanted to be wherever we were, whether it be the living room, home office, bedroom, whatever. We left the crate in place just in case he wanted a private retreat, but he never went back and we ended up folding it up and just putting doggy beds in the various rooms where we tended to hang out so that he could join us.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:23 AM on January 24, 2008

Wow. No one here is going to ask the background of the dog before answering?

Like, how old?
Where did this dog come from?
How do you wind up being responsible for it?
[Here's one I thought might be appropriate] Why have you decided to go with crate-training? Have you considered other options? Does the dog have any behavioral issues? What's the dog's history?

Have you ever had a dog before?

Really, not to be jerky, just before your question could be fielded, these are particulars that would have to be laid out. Looking forward to hearing more.
posted by humannaire at 3:36 AM on January 24, 2008

I have a wire collapsible crate for my Golden and she uses it all the time.
posted by Silvertree at 5:30 AM on January 24, 2008

Wire crate.

We have two dogs. The older one we put outside when we are not home because she just didn't take to crating (suffered from separation anxiety and would relieve herself in it, everytime, even if she was only in there for 5 minutes).

The other dog, a beagle, we feared would dig out of the yard, and also she was hard to housebreak and we wanted her crated at night so she couldn't soil random rooms in the house.

The beagle has taken to her crate quite well. It has a bed pillow in the bottom (which is the same size as the crate) with a rug mat on top. She manipulates them until she gets comfortable. We never covered the crate; she seems to enjoy being able to look out.

The wire crate is very easy to clean, and as was mentioned earlier, has doors on both the long and short sides.

During the day, though, the dogs don't seem to differentiate between their "dens". The older dog often goes into the beagle's crate and dozes there, while the beagle will relax in the other dog's doggie bed. Both dogs seem equally content in either setting. In fact, if we had to, I think we could probably now crate train the older dog.
posted by Doohickie at 6:26 AM on January 24, 2008

Another vote for a covered plastic crate here... My 75-pound Malamute likes his and it's collapsible for travel and moving.

Dogs aren't stupid, and can tell the difference between using the crate as a den and a cage. Mine happily hangs out in his, keeps his toys in the back and sleeps there at night, but when we crate him against his will (to keep him from bothering repairpeople, for instance,) he may whine and try to break out. But fails, so I wouldn't worry too much about escape artistry.

I'm not sure it's really the type of crate that makes a difference, but the use - if you ONLY crate your dog to confine him, he'll hate it, but if the crate is established as a den, he'll put up with occasional confinement.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 8:06 AM on January 24, 2008

Ack, I meant covered WIRE crate - hence the collapsibility. Sorry!
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 8:10 AM on January 24, 2008

There's super-cheap wire crates that rattle and better made ones that don't. A quick shake test to the display models at the pet store will quickly determine which one is which.

One last endorsement for wire crates: due to some RSI issues, I have a heck of a time manipulating the latch on Vari-Kennels as they require pinching two spring-loaded bars together. No such problem on wire crates, as they use a much simpler drop pin latching mechanism.
posted by jamaro at 10:34 AM on January 24, 2008

Most plastic crates can be split in to two pieces with one fitting inside the other, greatly reducing the space it consumes when put in to storage.
posted by iamabot at 2:31 PM on January 24, 2008

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