Keeping your dog safely confined when you can’t properly supervise her is important for training a puppy or acclimating a new dog to your home. When it comes down to kennels vs crates, the choice is personal for what is best for your dog, home and family. Interestingly, while dog crates and kennels are normalized here in North America, they aren’t routinely used in other parts of the world like Europe or Australia, who instead create dog-proof areas. Some people use the words kennel and crate interchangeably, however a kennel is usually a large penned in container that includes space for a bed, food and water dish, toys and pee pad while a crate is a small container just big enough for a dog to turnaround in and sleep.
What are indoor and outdoor dog kennels?
A kennel is a permanent or portable contained area that can be used to contain dogs when you aren’t home or able to supervise. Depending on the size of your dog, you can use portable exercise pens (X-pens) as kennels setup in your home. Outdoor dog kennels setup in your yard is another option. However, it’s safer to setup dog kennels indoors to prevent exposure to the elements and reduce the chance of dognapping. Dogster recommends only kenneling your dog inside the home.
Dog kennels are larger than dog crates and are typically large enough for dogs to comfortably move around making it appropriate for dogs to be left alone in them for longer periods of time. In a dog kennel, it’s important for dogs to have safe and comfortable places to sleep, water, possibly a place to eliminate such as a puppy pad if you’re using them as part as potty training and safe chews and/or enrichment toys.
Some example of exercise pens to use for indoor kennels are:
- $139. PEIPOOS Dog Panel Pet Playpen Kennel
- $45. Frisco 8-Panel Plastic Exercise Dog Playpen
- $108.99. Go Pet Club Heavy Duty Wire Dog Exercise Pen
What are dog crates?
Dog crates are smaller contained enclosures generally either plastic or wire that dogs can be put into when not supervised. Many dogs come to think of their crate as a comfortable bed and safe space. The appropriate size for a dog crate is big enough for a dog to comfortably sit, stand and lay down. Dog crates can be useful for giving dogs safe places to sleep at night. Dog crates can also be beneficial with supporting puppies learning potty training. Because dog crates are small areas, they are not appropriate to leave dogs in for long periods of time (more than a few hours). Here are examples of different types of dog crates:
- $595. Fable Medium Dog Crate
- $99.99. Frisco Heavy Duty Enhanced Lock Double Door Fold & Carry Wire Dog Crate
- $499.99. Moderno Dog Crate
- $299. PetSacee Wooden Dog Crate
- $598. Orvis Wooden End-Table Crate
- $375-$675. Revol Dog Crate
Creating dog-proof areas
Another option for keeping your dog safely contained when they are alone is to create a dog-proofed area of you home. Instead of using a crate or kennel you can use a smaller room (depending on the size of your dog), such as a bathroom, laundry room or spare bedroom to create a specific place for your dog to stay. If you want to use a dog-proof room as a kenneling area, select a room with easily washable floors. Remove anything from the room that could be harmful to your dog or that your dog could chew. Then add in necessities to keep your dog comfortable and engaged, such as water, a bed, dog safe chews and enrichment activities. Looking to block off a room to create a dog-proof area? Here are some examples of wall mounted dog gates:
- $71.02. Frisco Steel 3-Panel Configurable Dog Gate
- $59.99. The Safety Mate Gate
- $249-$298. One-Touch Pet Gate
- $139.50. Retract-a-Gate Retractable Pet Gate
Which is better: a dog kennel or crate?
Dog crates and kennels are a great way to keep your dog from getting into things around the house that could be dangerous when you aren’t able to supervise them. Crates can also help your dog to sleep through the night and give your dog a private, safe place to be. If you need to leave your dog for extended periods of time like when you are at work, it’s best not to use a crate. Instead create a dog-proof area of your home or keep your dog in a larger kennel to provide your dog with space to comfortably move around. If you must leave your dog crated for extended periods of time, it’s essential to hire a dog walker or have a friend or family member come and visit to give your dog a break from their crate.
Help for leaving your dog at home alone
If you are struggling with leaving your dog home even safely contained in a crate or kennel, seek support form an experienced dog trainer who utilizes positive reinforcement training techniques. A trainer will be able to help you work with your dog to develop and maintain positive associations with the crate. A trainer will also be able to help you assess if your dog is struggling and might need additional support with a separation anxiety condition, which could be preventing your dog from being able to comfortably settle on their own.
Providing your dog with a crate, kennel or other safe space to be when they can’t be supervised is an important part of training. Keeping your dog safely contained can help prevent your dog from chewing your belongings or getting into things that could be harmful to her. Determining the right sort of containment is going to depend on how long you need to leave your dog, and your dog’s personality. Crates are good for short-term containment, while kennels or dog-proofed areas of the house are best if your dog will be spending an extended period of time alone.