When I was just ten years old, I begged my parents for a dog. They took a week to think the proposition over and then decided the answer was yes, and a month later, we were headed to an airport in Oregon to pick up Clancy, our sweet German shepherd puppy. I remember riding in our RV with Clancy’s fancy new crate, dog bed, and toys. We had a Kong and peanut butter paste to fill it with. We’d lovingly picked out a new leash and collar and tag. We were ready.
I’ll always remember the moment we met Clancy. She was a tiny, scared puppy who got loose from the leash and ran between my sister’s legs. We grabbed her before she headed straight for the river we were playing next to. I carried her warm, trembly body back to our RV and stroked her fur until she fell asleep.
Clancy as an eight-week-old puppy. She was so soft and furry, and look at those reddish ears!
But later that night, in her large dog crate on her bed, Clancy whined on and off all night long. I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of Clancy’s crate training. Before long, anytime we said “crate,” Clancy would trot in. It helped that she got to lick that peanut-butter-paste-filled Kong when she was hanging out in her crate. It became a refuge for her, and while we hardly ever used it once she got older, it came in handy for camping trips and road trips.
Without even questioning it, I crate trained Bella when I was sixteen. She slept in her crate at the foot of my bed until she got big enough to sleep in the laundry room with Clancy. Again, we hardly ever used the crate once she was initially crate trained. But there were several long road trips where Bella’s crate kept her safe from stacked suitcases and also provided a safe shell for her in the car.
Bella in her crate during a long road trip — this was in a bus full of students on the way to a camping trip 14 hours from our home state! Bella was a champ during the whole trip.
When we first got Eira, I didn’t want to use a crate. I’d read an article somewhere that crate training was mean. I even potty trained Eira without a crate! But every single time I left the house, I had to move things around and close doors and block things off so Eira couldn’t get to them. Even leaving her for forty minutes was stressful, because what if she jumped up on the stove and turned the gas on? What if she pooped on the couch? What if?
So finally, just before Christmas break last year, I broke down and bought Eira a crate. The first night she slept in it, she howled almost all night long. She was in there with a piece of meat, but she still howled. Poor Eira! And when we left her with our neighbors and then other friends during vacation, she howled all night in her crate. Poor friends!
I realized that we should have crate trained Eira MUCH sooner than we did. Dogs often need to hang out in crates at the vet, or briefly at a dog boarder’s, or just when she or you need some quiet time. Now that she’s older, we use the crate only sometimes, but it’s still a lifesaver.
Eira in her crate. We often leave it in the bed of our truck so that we can easily pop Eira in and bring her to the park or on a hike. She could technically be connected to a leash, but I have a deep fear of dogs getting tossed out of the truck. It actually happened to Clancy once, only she wasn’t secured by a leash. She was injured! What if she’d had a leash on? Would it have hurt her neck? So that’s why we always use the crate.
When I went to my in-laws this last summer, I admired the tiny crates their little dogs crawled into together to snuggle. They were only about fifteen bucks at the local grocery store, but I knew that finding large dog crates can be much harder, not to mention more expensive.
Since you definitely need a dog crate for your large dog, here are our favorite crates, including the ones we used for Eira, and the one Clancy handed down to Bella. But remember, you should never leave your dog in a crate all day! Puppies shouldn’t stay in crates for longer than two or three hours. Adult dogs can be in a crate for longer, but even six to eight hours is pushing it.
And if you crate your dog at night, put her in the crate last thing at night and let her out first thing in the morning. Don’t forget some cuddles on the couch or a brisk walk before you leave for work!
MidWest Homes for Pets Folding Metal Dog Crate
This is the crate we had for Clancy and then Bella. It lasted for about fifteen years before we gave it away, where it’s still serving another dog family well. Isn’t that wild? In a world where things aren’t built to last long anymore, this crate is exceptional. Even though it’s not the most beautiful crate in the universe, this crate has complete breathability for your dog — plus you can see her at all times. But it also keeps your dog safe and contained from the world around her. And it keeps your house safe from that lovely puppy chewing phase.
Another plus? The crate folds into a semi-flat rectangle, much like the puppy playpen from the same manufacturer. You can choose this crate in several sizes and in two door options: two-door and one-door. We had the two-door version, which was convenient because one door was on the long side and one on the short. If one door was blocked for whatever reason, we could use the other door.
On this trip, we had the crate in a horizontal direction, so we used the side door for Bella to be able to get in and out.
In the above photo, you can see how Bella’s crate is surrounded by all sorts of things: bicycles, suitcases, coolers, boxes. Check out what it looked like inside her crate:
Bella sleeps in her peaceful crate.
Nice and cozy, right? We had a soft dog blanket in the bottom and because it’s such a nice, large crate, Bella had plenty of room to curl up and fall asleep on our long drive.
You can get this crate in several sizes up to 48 inches wide, and you can also choose to get a divider with your crate.
Noz2Noz Soft-Krater Indoor and Outdoor Crate
Even though the wire crate works well for travel, this soft crate would be awesome, too. It’s extra easy to fold down and set up and is much lighter than a wire crate. It’s made with a light steel frame and fabric. Of course, that also means it’s not quite as durable as a metal or hard plastic crate. It’s possible a puppy who’s really into chewing might damage it, so only get this one for a dog you trust not to chew things apart.
While the crate’s made with fabric, it features mesh panels so that your dog can breathe easily and also see the world around her. The very best thing about this crate is that it fits dogs up to 100 pounds! If you have an extra-large dog, you’ll have to use a different crate. But for those of us with German shepherds, malamutes, boxers, labs, retrievers, and the like, this soft, cozy crate is the perfect size. Usually the little dogs get all the nice fabric crates, but this time your large dog can enjoy one too.
ecoFLEX Pet Crate/End Table
Confused about the title of this crate? Don’t worry, you read it right. It’s not only a large dog crate; it’s also a beautiful end table! Here’s the thing about the wire crate and even the plastic crates: they aren’t pretty. Having one in your house can be a pain because as essential as they are, they’re ugly, awkward additions to your carefully chosen furniture and décor. The ecoFLEX crate plus end table allows you to use the top of the crate for photo frames, books, and your morning coffee, while inside your dog comfortably rests.
I’m definitely considering getting this one for our home so that Eira has a cute, cozy place to retreat. The crate comes in white, espresso, gray, and russet, so it can match nearly any home. As for size, it goes all the way up to extra large.
The crate’s made of recycled plastic and composite wood, plus steel bars to keep your pup from breaking free.
LUCKUP Heavy Duty Dog Crate
If you have a dog that loves to break free no matter what crate, wire or otherwise, you try to put him in, you may want to try a LUCKUP Heavy Duty Dog Crate. This 48-inch crate is shaped like a house but made with extra-strong steel bars. When you need your dog to be safe inside a crate that she can’t possibly break out of, this is the one to try. Most dogs will be fine with the wire crate or a plastic crate with a metal door, but some dogs really REALLY want to escape every crate they meet. No matter how many tantalizing treats you put inside there for them!
So if you have a Houdini who tears out of crates and chews up your living room, try this large dog crate from LUCKUP. It’s more pricey than the other crates, but worth the money if you’re in a situation where you need it. Note that it’s not very portable or foldable, but that’s because it is so durable.
Aspen Pet Heavy-Duty Pet Carrier
At last we come to Eira’s crate, the Aspen Pet Heavy-Duty Pet Carrier by Petmate. We love this crate! We’ve had it for almost a year and it’s holding up nicely. Eira hasn’t chewed on it or anything. And it works well both indoors and out.
Since it’s full-on wintertime here in Alaska, we keep Eira’s crate lined with fresh straw for insulation from the cold. And for softness!
This crate can be hard to assemble and take down again — you’re meant to use it in its full, assembled size, and you can use it on most flights if needed (though you should check with your airline before you fly anywhere with your dog). We love this crate because it looks a little nicer than the wire crate we had for Bella, and it also protects the dog from the elements. There’s no room in the cab of the truck for Eira to ride inside, so when we go places with her, she snuggles up in her crate.
The solid plastic ceiling means that snow and rain don’t blow onto her, and in the summer she has protection from the sun. But the wire door and air holes in the sides and back of the crate allow for plenty of ventilation.
We’ve used towels, dog beds, and dog blankets in here, but Eira either chewed them or scrunched them up until they were all nasty and useless to her until we cleaned and replaced them. Our vet recommended the fresh straw, and that’s what we’ve used for her ever since, both in her outdoor dog house and in her crate. Some dogs will want to ingest straw, though, so if your dog shows interest in doing that, discontinue the straw. But it’s worked for us for a long time now.
You can purchase an Aspen Pet crate for dogs anywhere from 25 to 125 pounds, making it an ideal large dog crate.
Pet Gear 4 Door Steel Crate Plus Bed
This 42-inch crate has it all: four opening doors, a plush insulated easy-to-clean bed built into the crate’s base/floor so that your pup is always comfy, wheels for towing the crate places, and a folding mechanism plus a travel bag to tuck the crate into if you so desire. There’s even a door in the top of the crate so you can reach down and easily pet your dog (or, you know, provide more food or water) while you travel — and you won’t even have to worry about him escaping! (Well, not like you would if you had to unlatch teh door every single time.) This crate comes at a reasonable price for all the amenities it includes.
It’s also an ideal crate for dogs who live in cold climates. The plush bed portion of the crate keeps your dog cozy and warm even when it’s cold outside.
Do you use a crate for your dog? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!