Crate Expectations: Why a Crate is Essential for Your Pet #CrateHappyPets

This post is sponsored by PetSmart®, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Containment Products and Education for your pet, but Life with Dogs and Cats only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. PetSmart is not responsible for the content of this article.

When I was growing up, I didn’t know anyone who kept their dog in a crate. Back then I felt sorry for any dog who had to spend time in one.

Tucker waiting for the Release command before he comes out of his crate

Don’t let Tucker’s sad puppy face fool you. He’s just waiting for me to give him the Release command to come out of his crate. He also gets a treat.

The first dog I crate trained was Rosie, a terrier whom I took to agility classes to burn off some of her energy. She was a natural at agility, taking to the equipment like she had learned it in a previous life.

The crate was where she waited in between runs. It was also where she stayed when we left her and Pasha — my Keeshond mix — alone, because Rosie’s response to separation anxiety was to destroy my house. Or at least gnaw on it. She’s the reason we had to remodel our laundry room; confined there, she tore up the floor.

A command “Crate!” and a sweeping hand motion were all Rosie and Pasha needed, and they’d run — not walk — to their crates. They’d each get a frozen peanut-butter-filled Kong and would settle down to enjoy their treats and wait for us to come home.

To me, crate training my dogs meant I didn’t have to worry about them destroying anything, getting into trouble or eating something they shouldn’t (like the linoleum in our laundry room).

It also was an aid in housebreaking, as dogs confined to crates are very unlikely to make messes in them. When my dogs were puppies, they slept in crates in my bedroom at night.

Puppy Tucker sleeping in his crate.

Puppy Tucker sleeping in his crate.

What I didn’t realize at first was that a crate meant something different to my pups: a safe, secure place where they could rest undisturbed. I learned to leave the crates out with the doors open so they could go in whenever they wanted to.

Jasper and Tucker relax together in the crate

A crate is a nice place for Jasper and Tucker to curl up together.

Rosie and Pasha are no longer with me. Now I have three different dogs, and four cats. And I continue to use the crates and a configurable pen for all of them.

Tucker hangs out of his crate

Tucker gives new meaning to “hanging out in his crate.”

True, crates are good for all the reasons I mentioned above: safety, security, house training and potty training, but I’ve found many more uses for them. I believe every person who has a dog or a cat should have a crate or a travel carrier for their pets as standard equipment.

Here are just a few of the ways I’ve used our crates and pens.

Crates were used to help with potty training. At night, puppies who weren’t housebroken yet slept in crates.

Tucker in crate while Jasper and Lilah hang nearby

Tucker was crated at night in our bedroom, while Jasper and Lilah could sleep where they wanted, as they were completely potty trained.

I used the crate as a barrier to confine all the dogs to one room when we left the house.

Athena would amuse herself by walking on top of the crate. Tucker didn’t mind; it gave him something to look at.

Athena liked to walk on top of the crate

Doesn’t that hurt your paws, Athena?

The dogs and cats sometimes shared the comfort and security of the crate. I think it created bonding moments.

Athena and Tucker share a crate

Strange bedfellows.

When the cats were young, I used the crate as a barrier between rooms. If the dogs got too rambunctious, the cats could run through the crates fast (notice the two open doors) but the dogs were slowed down. This gave the cats a feeling of security.

Dawn relaxes in the crate with ball

Tucker’s ball is in the crate with Dawn. He knew better than to disturb her if he wanted to get it. He had to wait until she left — or use another ball.

When Calvin and Elsa Clair came along, we used a configurable pen to help safely introduce the kittens to the dogs…

Kitten Calvin learns to greet Jasper

Calvin and Jasper meet nose to nose.

…and to the other cats.

Kittens Elsa Clair and Calvin are watched by Athena

Athena is curious about the kittens who can play safely in their pen, while she tries to figure them out.

Cat kennels or carriers are also important, as they are the only safe way to transport a cat. I sometimes leave the carriers out for the cats to inspect, so they are not always associated with trips to the vet.

Athena inspects a crate

Athena inspects a crate.

When we helped rescue Slick a few years ago, the crate was his refuge, where he felt the most safe and comfortable, until we found him a home.

Rescued cat Slick finds comfort and safety in a crate

Slick spent many hours holed up in his crate, and we left the door open for him to come and go as he needed.

This is why, when BlogPaws and PetSmart asked me if I wanted to write about pets and crates, I said yes. During the month of March, PetSmart has crates, kennels, carriers and accessories on sale, where there are plenty of options to choose from, to fit your budget, home and pet.

Jasper poses by all the crate choices at PetSmart

Jasper poses by just a few of the crates and crate pad options available at PetSmart — and on sale this month.

Want to know more about crate training?

You can crate train your dog at any time; you don’t have to start when he or she is a puppy. The same goes with cats. Unless there was some previous severe trauma in their past involving crates, kennels or carriers, any pet can learn to be comfortable — and actually come to love — their crates.

Here are some great resources:


 Do you crate your pets? Why or why not? Tell me in the Comments section.

Today, we’re participating in the Monday Mischief blog hop. Take some time and visit some of the blogs below.

46 Comments on "Crate Expectations: Why a Crate is Essential for Your Pet #CrateHappyPets"

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  1. MattieDog says:

    Super duper important topic – and so many people get sidetracked by an emotional response. But think about it – just like humans ‘enjoy’ their homes, so does a dog lub der crate. Just making it a safe and enjoyable experience and not a place where ‘lock-ups’ occur and dey’ll get da hang of it, just like a den!
    Mattiedog, A Little Dog Making a Big Difference in This World

  2. Dixie Hamel says:

    I so wish my girl would crate… I’ve tried so many times but with her anxiety issues I’ve been told by professionals to just give it up. She panics and injures herself if left alone. She will crate at the vets and doggy daycare (where she can see other dogs right next to her) – she is not happy about it but does it. She will also crate with another dog – she just can’t be left alone. Separation anxiety is one of the hardest to deal with crating.

    I do agree it is a needed thing. Having shown dogs for over 15 years mine were all crate and table trained. This is a first for me and can be extremely hard on both of us (Dixie and her Mom).

    • I’m sure you tried. I had a real hard time with Tucker at first. He would destroy everything inside the crate at first, and make a mess all over it. I had to really slow down to crate train him. It took a lot longer than the others, but it worked eventually, and you can tell from the photos that he learned to love it. I understand that some dogs just have a hard time with it — either due to a previous bad experience or simply from their anxiety. My Lilah was terrified of the way the bottom of the crate banged and clanged, which is why we used a configurable pen instead of a crate for her. Then she could be confined and there was no bottom to scare her.

  3. Wow, these pictures are fantastic! Great information, too.

  4. Jana Rade says:

    We actually never needed one. But our dogs’ lifestyle is different because I work at home.

    • I completely understand. I didn’t use them at first. But once I started, I realized the benefits — and the comfort the dogs get from it. I had no idea that the dogs would choose to go in their crates on their own. That’s when I realized that was their signal for “I need my space right now.”

  5. We’re big fans of crate training. It really comes in handy for puppies!

  6. You’ve found a lot of great uses for crates! Thank you for letting me know about the sale in March. I have been wanting to get Milita a new carrier, and that seems like the perfect time to do it.

  7. I couldn’t survive without a crate – they are too good for so many reasons!

  8. slimdoggy says:

    I never really used a crate all the time until we had Jack. We used it to help calm his anxiety when we first got him…covered up it really helped soother him. Now, it’s just out in the sunroom with an open door. Jack usually goes and sleeps in it during the night and Maggie sleeps in it all the time too.

  9. Flea says:

    Our dogs aren’t crate trained. I see the use for it. It’s excellent. We just haven’t been in a situation where it would be beneficial. And I like having the dogs loose while I’m gone. They’re my home security system.

    • I completely understand. My dogs aren’t crated anymore. They’re justs prevented from going into one area of the house (the laundry room) because one dog (Tucker) really likes Litter Box Treats. Crate training meant my dogs learned to love the crates, so if I ever needed to use them again, they wouldn’t be stressed.

  10. Mom wishes that we still used the crate for me, but I got spoiled! Love how your dogs and cats share the crates! Also, after adopting Rhette, one of the CWA ladies criticized me when they thought that I was greeting him outside his crate, saying it was predatory. Didn’t think you had heard that one! Love Dolly

  11. Kilo loves his crate, I think he believes it’s his own little house.

  12. So many benefits to crate training! Our carriers get left out sometimes, and the kitties always have fun playing in them. It has helped to get them to be calmer on car trips in the carrier!

  13. You did an awesome job on this post! I love the shot of them sharing the crate.♥

  14. Earl Lover says:

    GO CRATES!!!

    Woofs from Earl, Ethel and I at Earl’s World!

  15. what a terrific post. We used a crate with both of ours. Chelsea the lab needed it for 4 years to stay out of trouble. Cole the poodle came out of it at 6 months able to handle the freedom. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

    • My dogs “graduated” from crates at different times, but I never gave our crates away. There are times when I’ve brought them out again: when a dog is sick, or when someone needed to be on enforced bed rest.

  16. Amy says:

    Oscar is crate trained, and I’m so glad I did it. That’s where he sleeps until I get up in the morning, and I’m ensured a good night’s sleep – so I’m not a cranky dog mom in the morning!

  17. Robin says:

    I agree, crates and carriers are great. They are comforting both for the owners and the pets. I love the safety that a carrier offers my cats while traveling. People are crazy on the road!

  18. Emma says:

    We are all crate trained but aside from Bailie none of us “love” to be in there, nor were we ever in the crates too much. It is just good to know we are alright with a crate when the need arises.

  19. Mr. N has separation anxiety so he is not a huge fan of the crate. We have one that I keep open that he eats in. He doesn’t destroy things or eat weird things so he is trustworthy in the house.
    I do have a soft carrier for when he goes places and he tolerates that as long as I am with him. He figured out how to open it from inside the one time I left him alone in it for five minutes.

    • That’s the thing about crates. You use it for Mr. N to eat in. That’s kind of my point. Even if you don’t use a crate to confine a pet, there are so many uses for one that they’re good to have around. As for opening up the soft carrier; that doesn’t surprise me. Mr. N is one smart cookie!

  20. The mom leaves our carrier out all the time so we aren’t scared of it. Occasionally, one of us will take a nap in it.

  21. Excellent post! I started crate training our pups as soon as they came to live with us at 8 weeks of age, and they also spent their first few weeks sleeping in them at night in our bedroom. A gradual, slow introduction is important to make sure the pups associate only positive things with the crate!

    I love the picture of your pup & kitty hanging out in the crate together ~ how awesome is that!

  22. Great advice on crate training – thanks for sharing!

  23. Kama says:

    I love that you crate train your dogs AND cats! I do the same. I actually have crate trained my rabbit too. I compete in agility, so it is necessary for my sport, but it is also nice for safety, comfort, and relaxation. Great post!

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