Table of Contents
- What to Put in the Crate
- Toys for Putting in Dog Crates
- What Not to Put in the Crate
- Other Things to Make a Dog Crate More Comfortable
- Safety Tips
- Final Thoughts
I have been fortunate enough to have had the experience of bringing home a puppy and fourteen foster dogs (thankfully not at the same time!).
Though there are some differences in bringing home an adult dog versus a puppy, most of the preparation is the same.
One of the most significant things we as dog parents need to do before our furry bundle of joy arrives is to set up our new dog’s crate.
Trust me, setting up a crate with “help” from the puppy is far more challenging than taking care of it before they arrive.
Arranging a comfortable crate may seem like an easy task: put a bed and blanket in, maybe a toy, and voila! You have a comfy crate.
But honestly, it’s more than just a blanket, bed, and toys.
Even though it is fun for us to bring a dog home, often it can be scary for the dog. Remember, they don’t know what’s going on.
Plus, going into the crate for the first time also means being away from you.
But don’t worry, there are many things we can do to ease them into this new transition.
What to Put in the Crate
First, I feel it’s a good idea to start with a word of caution.
Not all dogs do well with blankets, toys, and beds.
Some dogs like my dog, Calvin, have issues with items of comfort in their crate.
Calvin is my Brittany Jack Russell mix, and he will destroy anything and everything that I put in a kennel with him. He will even snag items outside of the crate like rugs and destroy those, too.
When I first put Calvin in the crate, it was at bedtime, and all was fine when we woke up.
Unfortunately, the first time I left him home alone in the crate, it was a completely different story.
When I got back, it looked as though a tornado went through the kennel. The bed, blankets, stuffed animal, and nearby rug were all completely shredded.
My biggest fear was that Calvin not only destroyed these things but also consumed some of them.
Everything was so torn apart; there was no way for me to tell if any of it was missing.
Thankfully, after anxiously waiting to see if he had any ill effects, it turned out he only destroyed and didn’t eat anything.
So, the moral of this tale is that until we know what our dogs are going to do with the items we give them, we may want to start slow.
I’m not saying we create a prison cell for our dogs. I’m merely suggesting we use caution.
I like to put in a firm bed that fits snuggly inside the bottom of the crate.
Preferably one that is easily washed in the event there are any accidents.
Some dog beds have waterproof liners, which I highly recommend for puppies.
Some of the beds I would recommend are:
- PetFusion Dog Bed – Water resistant cover with a waterproof liner, machine washable cover, six different sizes, and a 1-year warranty.
- Bark Box Dog Bed made with Memory Foam – Comes in 4 sizes and four colors with a removable, washable cover, plus a 1-year warranty.
- AIPERRO Dog Bed Mat – Comes in 4 sizes and the whole mat is machine washable.
Blankets for Dog Crates
However, for when a blanket is needed, I would suggest using a smaller blanket that way it won’t take up too much area in the kennel.
Also, it’s advisable to find one that is easily machine washable. This is especially important to keep fleas at bay.
If the dog likes to nest in blankets, I will leave a lightweight blanket in the crate year-round.
Recommended blankets include:
- PetAmi Dog Blanket – Comes in over ten different colors and three different sizes, is waterproof, and has Sherpa fleece on one side.
- AK KYC Blanket 6 Pack – Small, multi-pack of lightweight blankets. When it comes to puppies, having multiples is usually a good idea.
- Furrybaby Fleece Dog Blanket – 3 colors, five sizes, and made with super soft fleece material.
- One of Your Shirts – Dogs are very scent-oriented animals. Giving your dog a shirt that you’ve worn can provide them with a sense of comfort when you aren’t home.
Ginger, our youngest, loves to carry my socks around. She never chews on them; just carries them around. I will say this has led to a few missing socks.
Toys for Putting in Dog Crates
Boredom often leads to destruction, so toys are essential for any dog crate.
In the beginning, it is wise to use durable toys until you know what your dog will do in your absence.
Also, I find it beneficial to have specific daytime and bedtime toys.
My dog’s crates have always been in our bedroom and listening to them chew on a bone isn’t exactly the best bedtime music.
Good toys can also help prevent crate-time whining.
Here are some of my favorite dog crate toys:
- West Paw Zogoflex – I love all of their products, dental wise they are less likely to break teeth, and somehow at the same time are extremely durable.
(No, my spellcheck isn’t broken, they just all have fun names!)
- Kong – Classic, durable treat dispensing toy
- Snuffle Mat – You will want to make sure your dog won’t chew on this before putting it in their crate, but these are a great way to entertain your pup.
- Kong Stuffed Toy – A lot of dogs use stuffed toys as a comfort item. Daisy loves her stuffed toys, and they help her settle down at bedtime. Again, this is a toy that you need to make sure your dog won’t eat in your absence as it could cause a blockage if your dog eats the stuffing.
What Not to Put in the Crate
There are a lot of things we should put in a crate, but there are a few things we shouldn’t.
Some items may seem like they would provide comfort, but in truth, can either lead to discomfort or can even be dangerous.
Food & Water
Your dog should have had enough food and water before going into the crate to keep them comfortable during your absence.
If we put food and water in our dog’s crate, we only allow them to eat and drink but not use the bathroom.
Also, water can easily be spilled, creating a wet, uncomfortable stay in the crate.
Dental Chews, Raw Hides, and Nylabones
These are not necessarily bad to give your dog when you are home, but when no one can supervise the dog, they can become a dangerous choking hazard.
Imagine eating a bunch of salty fries or chips but not being able to have a drink of water for hours!
Other Things to Make a Dog Crate More Comfortable
Crate covers help to lower the visual stimulation, which usually can help your dog settle down.
Unfortunately, they don’t work the same for all dogs.
Daisy preferred the covered crates as it creating a den effect, and Sophie hated the cover so she pulled it through the bars and shredded it.
Also, as a bonus, some of the covers are designed to be more aesthetically pleasing, which is always a bonus, especially if the crate is in a high traffic area.
Background noise can help drown out more stimulating sounds like the UPS truck or the barking dog next door.
The calmer we can keep our dogs in their crate the more relaxed and comfortable they will be.
There are also specially formulated music CDs and speakers that are programmed with music and sounds to help to keep dogs relaxed.
- ICalm Dog 5.0 – Speaker with preprogrammed SD cards. The music has been proven to help calm anxious dogs. ICalm was recommended to me by the Veterinary Behavior Specialties of Minnesota clinic. ICalm has different SD cards for varying levels of relaxation.
- Pet Acoustics’ Pet Tunes – A speaker programmed with music to help keep dogs relaxed.
Even if your dog isn’t stressed in their crate, some of these products can still be of use.
Providing the most relaxing, comfortable environment possible for your dog will only help crate time more enjoyable for them.
Try these options:
- Gerrard Larriett Aromatherapy Pet Care – This is a lavender chamomile spray that can be used either on your dog or their bedding.
- Sit Stay Zen LLC – Zen Doggie is a unique blend of essential oils designed to keep your dog relaxed.
- Always remove your dogs’ collar before putting them in a wire crate. The tags on a collar or the collar itself can get caught on the crate bars, creating a choking hazard.
- Always check the bars on the crate to ensure none of the bars are bent or broken. Some dogs, like Sophie, have issues being in a crate and can bend or break the crate bars. If bars on a wire crate are broken or turned inwards, it could cause puncture wounds.
Many working pet parents need to crate their dogs while they are away at work.
Creating the most comfortable environment for your dog while they are in the crate will give you peace of mind knowing that you have provided a safe and comfortable environment for them.
Plus, a comfortable crate will help to get your dog to go inside it more willingly.
Not all dogs need to be crated for life, but crates are a wonderful tool to help keep your dog safe until they are mature enough to be out on their own in your absence.
What to Put in a Dog Crate to Make It More Comfortable During the Day?
Interactive toys that will keep their minds stimulated.
What to Put in a Dog Crate to Make It More Comfortable at Night?
A stuffed toy if your dog enjoys those, otherwise just comfortable bedding.