It can be difficult for a pup when you have to leave them behind for a while. Whether you’re going to work or for an extended vacation to your dog, there’s the worry that you may not be coming back. Your absence can be hard for your dog to cope with – for some, it is harder than others. There are many ways to help your anxious dog to relax while you’re away, and one of them is crate-training. But there are so many crates on the market, how do you know which is the best crate for anxious dogs?
What is the best crate for anxious dogs? The 6 best crates for anxious dogs are:
- MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate
- AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Carrier Kennel
- ProSelect Empire Dog Cage
- Petmate Sky Kennel
- Impact Dog Crate
- Homey Pet Open Top Heavy Duty Pet Kennel.
Before reviewing these crates, we’ll cover the benefits of crate-training your dog. Is a crate suitable for your anxious dog? What causes separation anxiety in dogs? You will be able to make a more informed decision on the type of crate needed and if it is suitable for your dog by the end of this article.
Benefits of Crate-Training Your Dog
It’s easy to experience feelings of guilt when you put your dog in a crate for the first time. We’re used to bringing them with us everywhere and watching them romp around dog parks.
A dog crate can be an excellent factor in your dog’s life and does not have to be a negative experience for either of you.
Professionals in the dog service industry agree that it is best to begin crate training your dog at a young age. It is a useful step to housebreaking puppies. It’s also a reliable way to prepare for the relocation of your dog. In stressful situations, allowing your dog to rest in a crate can help to relax them.
Your dog can learn to “self-soothe” when in the crate. If your dog is nervous or aggressive with strangers, you can have them rest in the crate to calm them down.
One of the greatest things about crate training is that it is effective for dogs of all ages. It is effective in helping to house-train puppies or to give your senior dog a safe haven.
Crates are a handy tool for any dog-owner.
How Do Crates Help Dogs With Anxiety?
Canines naturally live in dens. They find security in small, enclosed spaces. This is why spooked dogs retreat underneath your bed or behind a couch during times of high stress. A friend of mine had a chihuahua that hid away in the bathroom cabinet during the 4th of July!
Your pup’s crate creates a safe environment to which they can retreat in scary times.
What to do to help your dog feel comfortable in its “den”? The walls should be sealed and not open as it would be on a wire crate. You can use a wire crate, but you will have greater success in comforting your dog if you add a crate cover and a bed.
With your dog in their crate, they are separating themselves from stressful stimuli. It works as an “out of sight, out of mind” effect. For instance, if your dog is afraid of the vacuum, they will still hear it, but they can’t see it and cannot bite it or fear it.
What Causes Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Lots of people find themselves shopping for a crate out of desperation.
They need options to solve destructive behaviors while they’re away from their pets. These damaging behaviors can often be attributed to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can manifest in many ways, a few of them being:
Chewing on your belongings
Chewing is one of the easiest ways for your dog to get its frustration out.
It is especially common in dogs that have not had enough exercise before being left alone. Dogs need their energy redirected if there is no proper way to negate it.
Dogs with anxious energy will often pace and check windows and doors for a sign of your return.
This behavior can lead to damage such as ripped up carpet or torn curtains.
Some housebroken dogs use the house as a toilet when their owner leaves them unattended.
Why do these behaviors happen?
As for the root of these behaviors, that can vary among breeds and individuals. Anxiety in adopted dogs that have had a traumatic past makes them more reliant on human company. Some dogs need more interaction and do not like separation from their owners.
Moving into a new home can also put a significant amount of stress on even the calmest of dogs. New scents may make them want to start marking different areas of the new space.
They may also experience fear of separation due to not being familiar with the new location.
Whatever the anxiety, you need to know that your dog will be comfortable and secure in the crate you choose.
What to do if your dog has separation anxiety? Have a listen to Cesar Millan in the video below.
The rest of this article is going to explore the different types of crates you can buy for your dog and, more importantly, recommend the best crate for anxious dogs.
Different Types of Crates
What you need to look for when shopping for a dog crate depends on:
- The reason you’re purchasing it e.g. for use in the home, travel
- The breed, size, and age of your dog
- Whether you plan to travel with it or not
- Whether you intend to leave your dog inside for extended periods
- The level of anxiety you expect your dog to experience.
These factors are all equally important when shopping for your dog crate.
The quality of a crate will be, in part, influenced by your dog’s personality and individual needs. A wire crate may be great for securing an anxious Yorkie, but terrible for a neurotic rottweiler. Those differences can make or break (quite literally) the crate’s suitability for your pup.
Do you plan to travel with the crate? This will determine the durability and type of material you shop for (metal, plastic, or fabric).
If the crate is for home use only, then you can afford to get a more robust, metal crate.
Fabric or soft-sided crates may be best if your dog experiences high levels of anxiety. They also work well for traveling as do hard plastic crates.
Wire crates - pros and cons
Plastic (hard-sided) crates
Plastic (hard) crates - pros and cons
Soft-sided crates - pros and cons
Heavy duty crates
Heavy duty crates - pros and cons
Best Dog Crates for Anxious Dogs
One factor that impacts choosing the best crate for anxious dogs is the crate needs to withstand any nervous or excited chewing by your dog.
Consider these additional features when shopping around for the best crate for anxious dogs:
- Enclosed. The crate should provide that cozy and comfortable “den” environment so your dog is calm but well-ventilated to avoid being stuffy and hot.
- Secure. The crate shouldn’t be easy for your pup to escape from, but also not be like a jail cell in your living room.
Here are our recommendations for the best crate for anxious dogs to keep them safe and calm. These crates are a mix of wire, plastic, and heavy-duty crates.
|MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate
|Best for small breeds with anxiety (and budget option)
|AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Carrier Kennel
|Best for large breeds with anxiety
|ProSelect Empire Dog Cage
|Best travel crate for small to medium breeds (airline approved)
|Petmate Sky Kennel
|Best travel crate for large breeds (airline approved)
|Impact Dog Crate
|Best open-top crate
|Homey Pet Open Top Heavy Duty Pet Kennel
Midwest Homes for Pets Dog Crate
The Midwest Homes crate is the best of the best option. It creates the most comfortable “den” feel to soothe anxiety-prone dogs at home, catering for breeds of all sizes.
This wire crate allows ideal ventilation and awareness of the dog’s surroundings.
Best for housebreaking and for dogs with separation anxiety issues to self-soothe. This crate is perfect for dogs that need to practice self-control.
The MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate is also highly adaptable to your pet’s needs. This crate comes in a wide variety of sizes, for small to large dogs.
You can also purchase different configurations of the crate:
- Choose to have two doors instead of one, a divider.
- Select different colors.
- Choice of sizes: available in sizes from 18″ to 48″ inches.
To make this crate more den-like for your dog, grab a crate cover. This provides better insulation and helps your dog with environmental stressors. It has the benefits of a fabric crate and the functionality of the wire crate with the pull-out floor tray.
Your dog will remain safe and secure in the MidWest crate with its heavy-duty deadbolt latch.
This is a design that dogs most often figure their way out of, so give your pup some toys and treats to keep them busy.
The foldable design also makes it quite easy to transport.
AmazonBasics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Carrier Kennel
This is the most popular style of a crate for owners who regularly travel with their dog.
Using small blankets and adding a few toys is the best way to make your pup feel comfortable and at home in this crate.
The closed sides of this hard plastic crate can be comforting to dogs in many circumstances. You can help your pup to cuddle up in its dark, warm “den” and escape the harsh environment. Creating that cozy “den” is one of the main reasons we’ve recommended the AmazonBasics as one of the best crates for anxious dogs.
Some benefits of the crate’s construction include:
- A front gate made of all wire, again helping ventilation
- The crate is secured on both the top and bottom, making it more difficult for your pup to sneak out.
It is designed with a pretty pattern of holes along each side, the top, and back to improve ventilation. Although, compared to the wire crates, this one can get quite stuffy. That said, it is not meant for housing more than one dog or any large breeds.
This crate only comes in the 19″ and 23″ sizes, and so should not be considered for large breeds.
It’s good for preventing anxiety and can withstand scratching and chewing by small dogs. It is, however, not as conducive to physical wear as steel or aluminum crates and can be chewed apart over time.
This carrier is not airline approved. If you need a hard plastic crate approved to take on airlines, the best of the bunch is the Petmate Sky Kennel.
ProSelect Empire Dog Cage
The ProSelect Empire Dog Cage is on the heavy-duty side of the scale.
Let’s start with the specs:
- 20-Gauge steel cage with ½-inch thick bars
- Available in Medium and Large models:
- 35.75”L x 23.5”W x 24.5”H (Medium)
- 40 ¾”L x 28 1/8”W x 31 ¾”H (Large)
By their size alone, it’s easy to tell that this is a crate meant for larger breeds.
There is a floor grate for waste to go down into the tray stored below.
You have the option of attaching/removing casters for better portability.
These crates are not solely beneficial for large breeds, but for large litters as well. Keeping dogs contained with proper ventilation is an efficient way to move puppies.
The strength of the steel will prevent even the strongest dogs from chewing its way out.
Your dog cannot easily open the powerful latch.
A soft bed and a mounted water bowl are essential in keeping your pup cozy and hydrated for a period of time.
The finish is rust-resistant so you do not have to worry about the crate degrading.
The strength and thickness of the steel prevents your dog from pawing at the bars and pulling them apart.
This crate will keep your dogs safe and stand up to even the most neurotic of dogs.
The distinct disadvantage of this crate is that it is incredibly heavy. If it’s not on the casters, you may have a difficult time attaching them or trying to move the crate altogether.
Because you can’t dis-assemble it easily broken down, this crate is not suitable for traveling purposes.
Petmate Sky Kennel
If you want to travel on airplanes with your anxious dog, consider the airline-approved Petmate Sky Kennel.
Impact Dog Crate
Another heavy-duty dog crate that is not for the faint of heart.
If you are having severe anxiety-related issues with your large breed dog, this is the crate for you. It measures at 40″ L x 23″ W x 28″ H and weighs 45 lbs.
This crate is designed to keep even the most chaotic pups secure and still.
Again, this type of crate is for stationary use, due to its weight and bulkiness.
If your dog is anxious or stressed when you are out, rest assured that they won’t break out or destroy this crate. It is secured with a Marine-grade slam latch.
It has several ventilation holes, along with a gated front door for plenty of airflow. There are vents at the top of the crate as well.
Despite all of the openings, it is enclosed enough to allow your dog to be cozy. And keeping your dog feeling cozy and comfortable is one of the factors that make it one of the best crates for anxious dogs.
Though it may not be your first thought, the crate is IATA-compliant, meaning it is approved for air travel. It is perfect for long-distance travel, especially keeping dogs warm and secure.
Homey Pet Open Top Heavy-Duty Pet Kennel
The Homey Pet Open Top Heavy-Duty Pet Kennel is a heavy-duty crate.
It can hold dogs up to 70 lbs and comes with the optional casters.
The design of the bars is conducive for durability against forceful dogs.
The bars are less than one inch apart, which prevents your dog from sticking its paws through. And as a result, avoiding any potential injury from anxious behavior.
Its removable tray is great for cleaning, and it even has a plastic, rather than a metal floor. As a result, it helps your pup stay cool and collected.
If your anxious dog is a pacer, you can place the removable tray inside the crate so that it’s not pacing on the wires. This is a good reason to consider the Homey Pet as the best crate for anxious dogs.
Like many crates of this style, the Homey pet crate is stackable!
If you have multiple dogs at home, these 37″ crates can be arranged to house and transport two pups at once.
The open-top makes it easy to clean or for checking on your dog without the worry of them escaping.
How To Know If Your Dog Needs a Crate
Is your dog is displaying any of the anxious behaviors outlined in this article? Then that is a sign that your dog may require crate training.
However, you don’t need to wait for it to get as far as having furniture torn apart or your dog becoming injured. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior as you’re getting ready to leave and look for the following behaviors.
These are examples to provide you with guidance for making that decision to crate train your pup. Identify the problem behaviors to narrow down the type of crate that is best for the job.
Is your dog pacing around you before you’ve stepped foot out of the door? This is an early sign of separation anxiety. Your pup might grab a toy and run around with it, and this is often a way of dealing with stress via oral fixation.
Behavior in the Car
When in the car, does your dog cling to the seats or sit still with visible tension in their body? Car rides can be overwhelming for dogs that are new to it. Your dog may need some help with sensory overload by traveling in an enclosed or covered crate.
Inappropriate bathroom habits
Does your dog use the house to do its business when you’re away? This may be an early sign of anxiety-induced behavior. You may need to reacclimate your dog to being alone by introducing crate training.
What to Look for When Shopping for a Dog Crate
You may still need a little help in determining which of these crates is right for you and your pup. here are a few things to look for when shopping for the best crates for dogs with anxiety are:
Strength of the material
What type of anxiety does your dog have? What are the stressors that make your dog want to hide? Is your dog’s anxiety expressed in the form of pacing or destructive habits or merely wanting to hide?
Will your dog be in the crate for long periods? Then you need to ensure that there are ventilation holes and a barred gate for maximum airflow. Inadequate ventilation will add to your dog’s stress and possibly cause hyperventilation.
Size of the Crate
The crate needs to be roomy enough so that your dog can stand and turn around comfortably. Not being able to move can make your dog nervous and heighten anxiety. Think of this as if it were you. Would you be comfortable having to stay in one position in an enclosed space for an extended time? Probably not.
That is, visibility for your dog. This is an aspect for which you should know your dog well. You may want to cut off the surrounding environment or allow limited visibility. In instances of desensitization training (ex. having company at home), your pup will need to see what’s going on for acclimation purposes.
When determining the strength of the material: If your dog is prone to chewing and pacing they may try to escape? A sturdy kennel made of metal, for instance, will not be torn apart by them or pushed in any unwanted direction.
Are wire crates good for travel?
Wire crates are not as good for traveling purposes as the hard plastic crates like the AmazonBasics or Petmate Sky Kennel. But, they can be great for keeping your dog safe in transit. Smaller crates can remain in the cabin of a car, but larger ones can be secured in the bed of a truck or the back of an SUV. For the best (crash-tested) crates for use in the back of your car, have a read of this article.
Does your dog get spooked? Are they generally uncomfortable with traveling in a car? Then you should use:
- Crate cover to encourage them to close their eyes and nap
These are a perfect way to distract your pup from anything that may agitate them on the road.
Your pup won’t be as sensitive to the movements of the car when inside the crate so anxiety will be reduced. This will help them to feel more secure, not as if they need to cling to the seat at all times.
Wire crates deter damage during travel in comparison to plastic crates. Your pet can see outside and maintain a sense of awareness without sensory overload.
How to Crate-Train Your Dog
Crate training your dog is a simple process, but one that takes lots of time and an abundance of patience. This may be confusing to your pup, and they may fear the crate in the beginning, due to a lack of familiarity. As long as you are compassionate and do not rush your dog in the process, crate training can be a breeze.
The crate needs to be a positive place for your pup and should never be used for punishment at any point. This is because your dog will associate those negative experiences with the crate. That is precisely the opposite of what you want. It needs to be a safe haven or even a reward.
Do some research into your dog’s breed or become more familiar with their history if they’re adopted. This will help you to make the right decisions on how you will proceed with training.
Things to consider for training different breeds
Some breeds differ in their needs concerning training. Take the dog’s history into consideration when beginning the crate training process. Ask the following questions:
- Does this dog have any trauma related to small, enclosed spaces?
- Was your dog adopted from a home/institution that used crates?
- How were those crates used?
- Are crates already associated with negativity for the dog?
Breed-specific considerations for crate-training are as follows:
- Does my dog’s breed tend to be more food-driven? Border Collies and Australian Shepherds tend to be more food-driven, and require more treats during training.
- Is my dog more play-driven instead? Give play driven dogs opportunities during the training process to be rewarded with a game.
Make yourself aware of the breeds that are more inclined to anxiety. These breeds include:
- Border Collie
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Australian Shepherd
- Bichon Frise
Please make sure to exercise your dog before crate training or leaving them in a crate for long periods. This will ensure they won’t have too much pent-up energy to tarnish the experience.
Steps to Crate Training Your Dog
You can mix and match the steps of these lists, just follow the order as they appear. This is essential to allowing your dog to take their time during training. Do not rush your dog for any reason by keeping them in a crate before they’re ready. This can cause further trauma and potentially make their anxiety worse.
More Resources Available on Crates
Decided that a crate is the right fit for your dog? We’ve got lots of more great resources on the topic of dog crates. Here at Outdoor Dog Fun, we want to be as helpful as possible to ensure you, and your dog, live healthy, safe and fulfilling lives together. That’s why we’ve got heaps to tell you about crates that are relevant to dogs of all ages!
- Stop your puppy from pooping at night in their crate. We tell you how.
- Ready to crate train your puppy at night? Read our expert tips.
- What crates are best for puppies? Find out here.
- Looking for the safest crate for car travel (back of the car)? We recommend 5 dog crates.
- Water in a dog crate during the daytime – a good or bad idea?
- What about water in the dog crate at night?
- Epic guide to selecting the right crate for your dog at home
- Do you put toys in with your dog inside the crate? We investigate.
- Cold weather guide – how to keep your dog warm at night in their crate?