Your dog's crate or portable dog cage facilitates housebreaking and safe travel, providing a comforting private space and other aspects of pet parenting. Of course, you're eager to select the best possible crate for your dog to ensure her comfort, security and safety while confined or in transit. Lots of options exist, so the choice can seem a bit overwhelming at first.
Obviously, choosing a portable dog cage that's the right size for your dog is one of the most important considerations. You don't want her cramped or crowded, but once she's crate trained, she derives comfort -- not claustrophobia -- from feeling significantly closed in. Also, relatively tight quarters are safer for her during travel. Select a crate that's just roomy enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down in. If you have a puppy, go big to accommodate her growth, or you'll soon have to spring for a new crate.
Go Wire or Plastic
Wire and plastic portable cages are by far the most popular options. Those made of metal wire are often collapsible, making storage and moving them around considerably more convenient; remember, though, that this cage should double as your dog's confinement space and sleeping quarters, so you probably won't be storing it between trips. Just make sure it's sturdy, since quality varies considerably. Wire products also provide superior ventilation. Plastic crates provide a good deal of security in transit, but make sure you pick one with lots of ventilation. Look for one with good-sized holes, preferably on all sides except the bottom. If you plan on travel by flight with your pet, you need a plastic portable cage rated for airline transit. Many dogs prefer this style because it feels more "den-like," as the ASPCA points out.
Avoid Flimsy Material
Cheap or flimsy collapsible wire cages aren't the only ones to watch out for when you're shopping around for a portable dog cage. Remember, the crate is responsible for your pet's safety while she's in transit, whatever the destination or mode of travel. Wicker crates, frames with fabric siding, mesh crates and other not-so-sturdy products are generally poor choices. Don't be drawn in just because they're adorable or you have some notion a fancy look suits your dog's personality. Utility and safety must come first. Also, your pooch may very well chew through some of these crates.
Make It Homey
Your portable cage work doesn't end at getting the right size and material. Now you have to make it feel like home for your dog, since it's basically her bedroom and her place to de-stress. Add a cozy blanket or thin cushion for her to relax on. She should always have something to chew on, but make sure it's a chew toy or other soft object she won't get hurt on if there's any jostling while in motion. And speaking of -- inspect the crate you buy for any sharp edges, little pokey bits of plastic or wire or other potential sources of injury. Include a favorite soft toy inside, too. If your dog is a bit uneasy being in her crate at first or during travel, toss in a t-shirt or something else small and soft with your scent on it.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.