Most dogs appreciate spending time in the safe, comfortable environment of their crate. Crates are useful tools for potty training a puppy, preventing destructive behaviors, and keeping your puppy out of danger in a high-traffic area in your home.
But should you cover the crate with a blanket, and is it safe to do that?
Read this guide to find out if covering a dog crate with a blanket is beneficial and safe for your pet.
Why Cover Your Dog’s Crate?
Dogs are naturally denning animals that appreciate the security of a secluded, dark place that they can retreat to when they’re afraid or need to sleep.
As far as dog owners are concerned, there are several advantages to covering a dog’s crate, including:
- Reduces anxiety and soothing stressed dogs by limiting visual stimuli
- Prevents barking and overexcitement caused by outside stimuli
- A covered crate at night can indicate bedtime, providing a peaceful night for everyone in your household
- Covered crates can reduce stress during travel, making journeys more enjoyable and less stressful for you and your pet
- Covered crates can help to reduce anxiety when the dog is somewhere unfamiliar, such as at a campground on vacation or in the veterinary hospital
- A covered crate can help to relax a dog that’s sick or recovering from surgery at home
We’ll discuss some more benefits to covering dog crates later in this article, but you can see already that there are lots of advantages to covering your dog’s crate.
What Kind Of Crate Needs A Cover?
Not all dog crates are made equal and not all need covers.
Wire dog crates are a hugely popular choice for many dog owners.
Wire crates are relatively cheap to buy, they’re easy to clean, most are collapsible for easy storage and portability, and a wire crate is well-ventilated, too.
Also, if you buy a wire crate with a divider, your pet can use the same crate from puppyhood to adulthood, as you can use the crate divider to gradually enlarge the crate as the puppy grows. Wire crates with dividers are also excellent potty training tools.
The main downside to wire crates is that they allow your puppy a 360-degree view of his world. That makes it very difficult for some dogs to settle. For example, the smallest movement outside windows onto the street can immediately have some dogs barking.
So, covering a wire dog crate is a good way of cutting out drafts, keeping your dog warm, cutting out distractions, and providing your pet with privacy.
Plastic crates are generally used for safe travel in a vehicle. In fact, most airlines insist that you transport your dog in a plastic travel crate as hold baggage.
An airline-style plastic crate is well ventilated but is also more enclosed than a wire crate, so you might not need a crate cover to keep your pet calm or warm. Also, covering a plastic crate can lead to your dog overheating.
Furniture crates are designed to double as attractive pieces of furniture, such as end tables or media consoles.
These crates are usually enclosed on three sides, so a cover is not required.
Soft-sided, fabric crates are usually used as travel crates for small to medium-sized dogs. These crates are fairly well enclosed, so it’s not generally essential that you use a crate cover. Again, covering a soft-sided crate can cause the occupant to overheat and cuts off essential ventilation, too.
Never cover all sides of a dog crate!
One side of the crate must always be left uncovered so that your dog receives plenty of fresh air.
Ensure that the crate is placed in a spot where there are no drafts so that you can leave one side of the crate exposed to the air without fear that your dog will get chilled.
How Using A Crate Cover Benefits Your Dog
As previously mentioned, covering your dog’s crate offers many benefits for pet owners. But how about your dog?
1. Provides Your Dog With Security
Dogs need a den-like, happy space where they can relax and feel safe. That feeling of security is extremely important in preventing conditions such as separation anxiety and the general stress that many pups suffer when they are left at home alone.
You can increase that cozy, secure feeling by covering your dog’s crate to make the enclosed space darker, warmer, and more secluded, helping anxious pups to settle.
2. Makes Resting Easier
Some dogs struggle to settle down for the night, even in their safe space.
If you live in a busy household with lots of activity and the TV and lights on, covering your dog’s crate at night is a good idea, as that creates a quieter, more peaceful environment where your dog can sleep.
3. Reduces Anxiety
Often, covering your dog’s crate helps to keep your furry friend calm during stressful situations. For example, many dogs become upset during thunderstorms or when fireworks are being set off outside, and spending time in a covered crate can help.
4. Prevents Nuisance Barking
Dog crate covers can be excellent tools for reducing visual stimuli that can prevent your dog from becoming overexcited and barking.
If your dog’s crate is covered, your pet won’t be able to see as much movement outside the crate, both inside your home and outside a window. That means fewer outbreaks of barking, creating a calmer environment for you, your pet, and your neighbors.
5. Bedtime Bliss
Many dog owners like to cover their pet’s crate at bedtime.
Covering your dog’s crate at night will help your pet settle down and sleep. If you leave the crate uncovered during the daytime and cover it at night, that gets your dog into the regular routine of sleeping when it’s dark and being more active when it’s light.
During the summer months when it becomes light early in the morning, using a crate cover can prevent your dog from waking you up too early.
6. Dampens Sounds For Sensitive Dogs
Nervous, sound-sensitive dogs will benefit hugely from having their crates covered.
You can use a padded crate cover to reduce noise levels that are generated by passing traffic, storms, and the general comings and goings of your neighbors. That helps to reduce stress in nervous dogs and keeps them calmer.
How To Acclimate Your Dog To A Covered Crate
Your dog must view his crate as a happy, safe place, so you must never cover the crate as a punishment for bad behavior. It’s essential to introduce your dog to his crate gradually as part of your crate training regimen.
Here’s a quick overview of how to introduce your dog to a covered crate.
- Place a cover over the top of the crate, leaving the sides uncovered.
- Encourage your dog to go into the covered crate on his own, gradually increasing the length of time he spends inside.
- After a day or two, lower the cover on one side of the crate.
- Once your dog has accepted that, lower the cover over the second side of the crate.
- As crate training progresses, let the cover drape down over the third side of the crate.
Be sure to lavish lots of praise on your dog for his good behavior. Don’t leave your dog unattended inside the covered crate until he’s adjusted to the new darker environment and you know that he won’t chew or rip the cover.
Is It Safe To Use A Blanket To Cover A Dog Crate?
We don’t recommend using a blanket to cover your dog’s crate for the following reasons:
1. Blankets Present A Choking Hazard
Puppies start teething at around four months of age. For the next four months or so, your puppy will happily grab anything within reach and chew it.
Although chewing is generally not going to harm your puppy, tearing lumps out of a blanket can present a choking hazard. A puppy could easily drag layers of fabric through the crate bars and start chewing it. If the puppy then swallows the blanket, he could choke on the material or lumps of it could become tangled in the pup’s bowel.
Knitted blankets are especially dangerous, as they tend to unravel, making it more likely that the puppy will choke.
2. Blankets Are A Fire Hazard
Of course, you should never place your dog’s crate close to a fire, heat source, or open flames. However, accidents happen, and blankets can easily catch fire, posing a very real danger to the dog trapped inside the crate.
3. Blankets Prevent Adequate Ventilation
Dog crates should be well-ventilated to prevent your dog from overheating. However, most blankets are not made from breathable fabric, and placing one over your pet’s crate can seriously compromise air flow through the crate.
4. Blankets Can Cause Overheating
Although you don’t want your dog to be cold in the winter, allowing your dog to overheat is potentially extremely dangerous.
If you use a thick blanket to cover your dog’s crate, your dog could easily overheat. Dog’s don’t sweat to lose body heat like people do, and don’t forget, your dog has a thick fur coat, too!
Brachycephalic breeds, such as French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers are especially vulnerable to overheating since they have flat faces and restricted airways. If you have one of these breeds, ensure that the crate your provide is properly ventilated and not placed close to any form of heating source.
Use A Commercially Made Crate Cover!
So, although using an old blanket can present a cheaper alternative to buying a commercially made crate cover, we don’t recommend it for the reasons outlined above.
Instead, you should invest in a commercially produced pet crate cover. Here’s why:
1. Anti-Chew Fit
Commercially designed and produced pet crate covers are specially made to fit snugly over a wire dog crate. That means your puppy or dog can’t physically drag the cover’s fabric through the crate bars to chew it.
Also, your puppy can’t easily pull a commercial crate cover off the crate, potentially exposing the pup to chills and drafts.
2. Fire And Heat Resistant
A commercially made crate covering should be made from fire-resistant fabric, protecting your pet in case of an accident or house fire.
Many coverings also feature UV resistant material, keeping your dog safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays on hot summer days.
3. Provide Proper Airflow
Commercial crate covers are usually designed to provide adequate airflow throughout the crate, offering the option to leave multiple sides open. That makes crate training dogs much easier.
Also, custom designed covers have Velcro fastening, mesh windows, giving you the option to add more airflow to the crate while leaving the sides covered.
4. Custom Fit
Crate covers are often made to fit specific crate brands and stock crate sizes. So, you’ll find a form-fitting, dedicated crate cover covers the crate completely from top to bottom. That cuts out drafts, as well as making the covered crate aesthetically pleasing by masking an unattractive wire crate.
5. Create A Den-Like Atmosphere
A well-fitting crate cover can provide a cozy, den-like environment for your dog. Often, commercial crate covers come with the crate as part of a set, including a crate mat, pad, or mattress to increase your dog’s comfort.
What To Do If Your Dog Hates Having His Crate Covered
Although most dogs appreciate the added privacy and feeling of security that a crate cover provides, some pups hate being confined in a covered crate. Some dogs might accept having the crate partially covered, while others prefer an open crate with no cover at all.
Watch your dog carefully for signs of anxiety. If your dog appears distressed, starts panting, drooling, or becomes aggressive, keeping him in a covered crate might not be best for your pup. In that case, an uncovered crate or an exercise pen might be a better option.
Never force your dog to spend time in a covered crate if he clearly hates it.
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Most dogs appreciate the seclusion and security that a covered crate provides, especially at bedtime. However, an old blanket is not the ideal crate cover solution for several reasons. A blanket can become a chew toy, present a fire hazard, cut off essential ventilation, and cause your pet to overheat. So, always use a properly fitting, commercially produced crate cover.
Does your dog or puppy enjoy spending time in a covered crate? Tell us in the comments box below.