How To Keep A Dog Warm In Crate At Night (Epic Guide)

Like you, your dog requires protection from the cold winter weather. Cute sweaters and jackets will make them look adorable. Many dogs hate wearing clothes. The answer? Get your dog their very own bedroom by buying a crate for them. If you already have, take measures to make that crate cozy, comfortable, and warm.

How to keep dog warm in crate at night? There are a couple of ways to keep your best pal warm in the winter in his crate:

  • Move the crate to the warmest location inside and outside your home. If the crate is outside, move it to a sheltered area (out of the wind) and to a location where it can receive sunlight.
  • Raise the crate up off the surface, using blocks of wood or bricks. Place soft bedding on the floor for him to rest and sleep on.
  • Invest in heated mats to keep the crate warm and place them under the bedding. Monitor the temperature of the mat to prevent accidents and burns. We do not recommend heating devices for dogs that are likely to chew them. If you do not want to invest in an electrical device, you can purchase a heated crate.

We have created an epic guide to help you keep your dog’s crate warm.

When winter arrives, your dog needs shelter from the cold as well. If your dog calls a crate his second home, you need to ensure your best friend does not feel uncomfortable. Let’s move on!

What Is A Dog Crate?

A dog crate, also known as an indoor kennel, is a secure and safe area for your dog to go into for a few hours each day.

Usually, dog crates are made from a frame and feature a removable tray. However, dog crates are available in various designs, sizes, and materials.

When Would You Use A Dog Crate?

Dog crates are typically purchased for the following eight reasons. Whichever reason relevant for you, there will come a time when you will need to know how to keep a dog warm in a crate at night (or in the daytime for that matter).

1. Dog bedroom

Just like we go to sleep in a room with a bed, crates with bedding can be treated your dog’s “bedroom”. Some dog breeds love the feeling of their own “den”. If you leave them roaming in your yard at night, they may bark at possums, cats etc., disturbing you and your neighbors.

Dog owners with crate-trained dogs place their crates in the laundry or garage so your dog stays out of the cold but isn’t far from their precious humans.

2. Hospital bed

If your dog has undergone a surgical procedure, a crate is a comfortable place they can rest and recover.

3. Safe place

If your dog is anxious, giving your dog a place that is quiet (e.g. away from young toddlers), safe and warm is a welcome relief. Once again, your laundry or garage could be the perfect location – out of the way from curious and playful toddlers and young children.

4. Helps with separation anxiety or destructive behavior

Whether your dog suffers anxiety or just gets bored when you are not around, there comes a time when you have to leave your house for a short period of time.

You can keep your dog in their crate with their favorite chew, toy or puzzle so that they are distracted and comfortable. Being inside the crate means they won’t be chewing your sofa or favorite pair of leather shoes whilst you are out of the house

5. Short-term Confinement

There may be other behavioral issues you have with your dog. Let’s say your dog is a counter surfer and you need to dash to the shops or pick up the kids from school. A crate can be used as a short term solution for keeping your dog out of trouble when you are not at home to supervise them.

6. Transportation

Crates help you keep your dog secure and comfortable during traveling.

7. Camping care

Crates conveniently pack flat, taking up little room with the rest of your gear.

Bring them with you when you go camping or RV’ing. Some dogs get really scared in the wild. There are so many unfamiliar smells and sounds. Placing the crate near where you are sleeping will give them comfort.

With your dog inside a crate, they won’t be running off scared or chasing animals or interesting smells.

It’s important to note that before you go camping, make sure your dog is familiar and friendly with their crate. Introducing your dog to a crate whilst your camping is not a good idea. First-time (anxious) dog campers are already overwhelmed by unfamiliar smells and sounds at night. They do not need more new things to adapt to this environment.

8. Puppy toilet training

When toilet training your puppy, trainers recommend confining the puppy to a defined space. A crate is perfect.

How To Potty Train Your Dog In 7 Days

Pros and Cons of Using Dog Crates

Pros and Cons of Using Dog Crates

How To Use A Crate With Your Dog

So by now, you’ve probably worked out if you want to use a crate with your dog. Sometimes, this just comes down to the personal preference of the dog owner. Some dog owners love crates and some hate them.

If you are a dog owner that sees the value in crating your dog, then read on.

But before we address how to keep a dog warm in a crate at night, we must first address how to use the crate with your dog.

How not to use a crate

There are four “no no’s” when using crates:

  1. Using a crate as punishment through forced confinement.
  2. Leaving their dog too long inside the crate.
  3. Using the crate as a replacement for supervision.
  4. Using a crate that is too big for your puppy and if you have bought a large crate that you can use later, install a divider to reduce its size.

I will expand on the first two points as it’s really important that crates be used in a responsible and humane way.

Using a crate as punishment

Using a crate like solitary confinement in prison when your dog does something wrong, is not acceptable. Your dog will never associate their crate with anything good. They will come to fear it and will refuse to enter their crate.

How long is too long inside a crate?

A crate may be your dog’s den, but just as you would not spend your entire life in one room of your home, your dog should not spend most of their time in their crate.
Source: Humane Society of the United States

Your dog can become anxious or depressed if they spend all day and night in their crate with little exercise or human love and affection. That’s just cruel!

So how long is too long to spend in a crate? Despite the average number of hours I recommend below, you need to observe your dog and gradually work up to the limit over time.

Puppies

A puppy, like a baby, has to grow. Confining a puppy to a dog for too long in a crate over a prolonged period will hinder the development of their bone and muscle.

The Humane Society recommends the maximum time that a young puppy (up to 6 months old) can spend in their crate is 3-4 hours. That’s the average. Observe your own puppy and its limitations. How long is it before they need to go to the bathroom?

Adult Dogs

A crate-trained adult dog can spend up to 6 hours in their crate during the day with water, dry food and a stimulating (puzzle) or chewy toy. This assumes you exercise your dog daily and enjoy some playtime together.

If your dog has been properly crate-trained, they can spend the night in the crate. If your dog is suffering from an upset stomach, do not crate them.

The Need For Crate Training

Before your dog spends any time in their crate, they need to be trained. You can’t just buy a crate and put the dog inside the crate if you need to run an errand.

How To Train Your Dog To Use A Crate

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are four steps to master to effectively and humanely crate train your dog.

  • Step 1 – Introduce your adult dog or puppy to the crate
  • Step 2 – Give your dog meals inside the crate
  • Step 3 – Practice with longer crating periods
  • Step 4A – Crating when you leave the house
  • Step 4B – Crating your dog at night.

Introducing your dog to the crate (Step 1)

Dog educator and trainer, Brydie Charlesworth has a great video on crate training for Step 1. If you watch until the end, Brydie provides some great tips in using a crate.

How To Crate Train Your Dog

There are certain do and don’ts around crate training your puppy at night. You can read more that here.

Do Crates Suit All Breeds of Dog?

If you want to protect your dog from the harsh winter weather, investing in a crate for your dog is a smart choice.

Some dog breeds naturally adjust to cold weather. They may not require a crate to protect them from the cold.

Some dog breeds that are lean and muscular, would benefit from being kept warm in a crate when it’s cold.

In short, a key rule to remember is that most smaller breeds, especially short-nosed dogs such as Pugs, Maltese, and Terriers cannot tolerate harsh winter weather.

For those dog breeds in the above table and, for smaller breeds in general, let’s move onto the topic of how to keep a dog warm in a crate at night. One deciding factor of keeping your dog warm in a crate is what type of crate you buy.

5 Types of Dog Crates and When is It Best to Use Them

When crate shopping, you will come across several types of crates. We will list the advantages and disadvantages of each type of crate to help you decide when it is best to use them. And we’ll point out which types of crate are easier to keep warm with your dog all cosy comfy inside.

1. Wire Crates

Advantages and disadvantages of wire dog crates

How to Keep My Dog Warm In His Crate

What’s the best way to keep your dog’s crate warm if it’s made from wire?

Keep the crate inside the house

If the laundry or garage is drafty in Winter, consider moving your dog crate further inside like your bedroom.

Dog crate cover

  • Flexible solution offering various sizes, fabrics, and colors.
  • Do you like things to match in your house? You can buy soft bedding to place inside the crate that matches the outside cover.

Throw a blanket over the crate

  • A much cheaper option than a store-bought dog crate cover.
  • Although there’s less choice with sizes, fabrics and colors, it can do the trick as a basic cover.

Cover, bed plus padding

Combine a cover with bedding on the bottom of the crate with a blanket padded around the sides and back for insulation. It’s my favorite solution to keep a dog warm in a crate because it’s a total upgrade for your dog

If you have old crib bumpers lying around the house, you can pad them around the side and back of the crate for insulation.

There’s so much choice with bedding:

  • Throw a couple of blankets at the bottom of the crate. Dogs that love to burrow and nest love this solution.They get to snuggle under one blanket to keep warm.
  • Place a more conventional padded dog bed on the bottom of the crate. A donut bed would be a great choice for smaller dogs.

2. Plastic Crates

Advantages and disadvantages of plastic dog crates

How to keep a dog crate warm

  • Plastic crates are generally more sheltered in comparison to other dog crates, thus providing improved insulation during cold weather.
  • You can also buy a plastic dog crate with a removable top part to turn it into an open-dog bed. However, you should not use plastic crates in the summer, as they are not suitable for hot climates.

3. Soft-sided Crates

Advantages and disadvantages of soft sided dog crates

Tips on how to keep dog warm in crate at night

You will find soft-sided crates with mesh windows. If you want to protect your dog from the cold, you can get one with mesh windows situated on the front, but not on the sides and top of the crate. This will prevent wind from coming inside the crate without limiting ventilation.

You can also add a mat inside the crate for added comfort.

4. Heavy-duty Crates

Advantages and disadvantages of heavy duty dog crates

Best ways to keep a dog warm in a crate at night

  • You can buy a heavy-duty cover for your heavy-duty crate.
  • When searching for a cover for your heavy-duty crate, you need to get a cover that is water-resistant due to its double-stitched seams.
  • You can get a cover that you can use both in the winter and summer.
  • Make sure you can get a cover with a roll the front and top panels up and down for increased ventilation as well as their need to feel secure in their heavy-duty crate. In the winter, you can roll down the shades and, in the summer, open it to reveal the mesh panels.

5. Fashion Crates

Advantages and disadvantages of fashion dog crates

Tips to keep your dog warm in their crate

  • Fashion or wooden crates tie the theme of the entire room together and are kept inside the home. Since they are inside the home, your dog will not have to fear the cold.
  • However, you will need to make their wooden crate a comfortable home for them to live in. First, ensure it is waterproof by lining the bottom with waterproof material. If your dog spills water or accidentally pees in the crate, the wood not sustain any damage and you can clean up the spill or accident with ease.

What Special Precautions Do You Need to Take When Keeping Your Dog in a Crate in the Cold?

If you are keeping your dog in a crate in the cold, you need to provide them with a crate that can prevent wind from entering inside. You also need to ensure you place the crate above ground to reduce heat loss. You need to check on the bedding to ensure it is not wet.

You should not use heat lamps or space heaters to make your dog warm, as it can cause a fire.

You should not place heated pads inside the crate as well because it can cause burns.

You should look for signs that indicate your dog is feeling cold. These signs include:

  • Weakness
  • Slows down or stops moving
  • Looks for warm areas to burrow when outside
  • Whines
  • Shivers
  • Shows anxiety.

If you want your dog to live (most of the time) and/or sleep outside, you may want to read our epic guide on dog enclosures for the outdoors. be mindful that smaller dogs don’t thrive outdoors as well as medium to large dogs.

4 Tips on How to Make A Dog Crate More Comfortable

I’m hoping by now you have selected which type of crate you want for your dog based on your requirements and your dog’s size and behavior. Their crate will not just be their shelter from the cold, but it will be their own home where they can go to for complete privacy.

You can do the following things to make their crate more comfortable

1. Select the Bedding

You can place blankets with a tougher material inside the crate. Since puppies are naughty, they might chew on the blankets, thus putting them at risk of experiencing health problems. You can leave the floor bare at first, and as they grow older, introduce warm blankets in the crate. For this reason, you should begin crate training in the summer, not winter.

2. Leave Toys

You can leave toys in his crate. You can leave tough chew toys in your dog’s crate. Your dog will chew on the toys and play with them. The toys will keep your dog entertained while he is in his crate. As they grow older, you can leave other toys for them to play with.

what to put in puppy crate at night
Five month old German Shepherd Hachiko with his Snuggle Puppy

Go here to read our guide on which toys to leave inside your dog’s crate. if your dog is an aggressive chewer, be wary about leaving them alone with toys.

3. Place Blankets in a Donut Shape

For increased heat retention, you need to place blankets in a donut shape in his crate. Your dog will lay down in the middle of the blanket. This shape provides them with protection from the chilly weather on four sides of the crate as well as underneath. Your dog will lose heat upwards instead of in all directions.

4. Do Not Expose Your Dog to the Ground

Inside the crate, you can place a dog bed or wooden pallet with a durable, thick cover over it.

Related Questions

How to keep your dog warm in a crate?

You can keep your dog warm in his crate by having warm bedding inside. You need to use strong and durable bedding. Make sure it is machine washable, hypoallergenic, insulated, and non-irritant.

Are crates suitable for a puppy?

Yes, you can put your puppy in a crate, but you will need to train them. Make them sleep with you in the bedroom at first for a few days or two weeks at max, and then slowly introduce them to the crate.

What to put in a crate with a puppy?

You can place your puppy’s favorite toy, bedding, snacks, and water to make them feel at ease in their crate. The answer remains the same to the question what to put in puppy crate at night.

Can crates be placed inside and outside your home?

You can put a kennel outside the home, but not a crate. You should place the crate inside of your home or in a covered area like a deck.

Where to put my dog’s crate in the house?

You need to place the crate in the middle of the house instead of the corner of the house, as doing so, will make your dog feel isolated and alone. For this reason, place his crate in a high traffic part of your house such as the living room or kitchen.

When choosing a spot to place the crate, make sure it is not draughty, do not place it near a fireplace or radiator, place it away from direct sunlight, and prevent placing it in areas of extreme heat or cold.

Should I Leave Water in My Dog’s Crate at Night?

You should not leave water and food in your dog’s crate at night. They might knock the food and water bowl over and create a mess in the crate, leaving the bedding drenched. If you need to provide them with water for medical reasons or you do not want to leave them without water at night, you can mount a water bottle on the crate.

What dogs should you not place in a crate?

  • You can place all types of dog breeds in a crate, especially smaller breeds such as short-nosed dogs. You do not have to put dog breeds that are built for the cold inside a crate, but there is no harm in doing so.
  • If your dog suffers from anxiety, you should consider not putting him in a crate, but seek help for their condition. You should monitor your dog’s behavior when you leave them in the crate. You can seek assistance from a vet to treat your dog’s anxiety and determine the underlying reason for it.

Are crates cruel to use when it’s cold?

If you are leaving your dog for several hours in the day in a crate during the cold, it may be cruel. However, it is not cruel to put your dog in a crate when it is cold outside. You need to tell your dog that they can come out of the crate on their own will and train them to eat and sleep in it.As long as you provide them with ample love, care, and comfort, you can put them in a crate when it is cold.

What crates would I recommend?

You can read my comprehensive buyers guide here.

If you are looking for a crate for your puppy, check out our recommendations.

Michelle

Michelle loves enjoying the outdoors with her dogs. She grew in a big house near the beach with German Shepherds. Nowadays, Michelle has down-sized her dogs, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Lucy loves playing fetch with her ball and frisbee. Max loves swimming and could walk forever. Latte's life is simple: follow Lucy and Max and fun will happen. Michelle and her 3 dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp and swim.

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