Most dog owners agree that there are many benefits of crate training for both the dog and the owner.
But what should you put in your canine companion’s crate? Are food and water essential? Should your dog wear his collar in the crate? And should you include a few toys to keep your dog from getting bored?
Keep reading this comprehensive guide to learn what to put in a dog crate and find out the best location for a puppy crate set up.
What’s The Best Location For Your Dog’s Crate?
If you’re to reap the many benefits of crate training your puppy or dog, you need to know where to place the crate.
Dogs are highly social animals that generally do best when located close to their human family or other four-legged animal companions. An isolated dog will quickly experience a feeling of loneliness. That can lead to the animal becoming stressed and unhappy, which can cause behavioral problems, such as barking or chewing.
To avoid those feelings of isolation, you should consider putting your dog’s crate in a room where they have company.
For example, puppies usually settle down more quickly in their crate at night if you start by putting them in your bedroom. Also, if your pup is right next to you, you’ll hear him stir if he wants to go potty so that you can let him outside. That’s a great help during potty training and can prevent many accidents.
Sometimes, a puppy fidgeting in a crate at night can be pretty noisy, and many dogs snore, so for your own sleep quality, you might want to relocate the crate to another room when your puppy is older.
Peace and Quiet
Dogs often go to their crate to enjoy some downtime and a little peace and quiet. So, you should aim to put your pet’s crate somewhere relatively peaceful and avoid high-traffic areas and your busiest family space if at all possible.
Popular locations for dog crates include beside your desk in your home office, next to the sofa in your lounge, or in your bedroom. You can buy dog crates that are designed to resemble items of household furniture, such as end tables and even media consoles. So, you can choose a functional, stylish dog crate that blends seamlessly into your living space.
Wherever you put your dog’s crate, always ensure that there are no vents, power cords, or appliances within your pet’s reach.
No one wants to sit in a draft or feel too hot or too cold, and the same applies to your dog.
Avoid putting the crate in direct sunlight, next to a fire, or too close to heating or cooling vents, radiators, or air conditioning units. Other spots to avoid are draft doorways or underneath uninsulated windows.
It’s amazing how dextrous and clever some dogs and curious puppies can be, especially when left alone and out of sight for a while in their crate.
So, choose a safe spot, and do not put your dog’s crate where he could be at risk of household hazards, such as electrical outlets, power cords, or appliances that could present any form of health hazard to your dog.
What Items Should I Put In My Dog’s Crate?
In this section of our guide, we’ll discuss what you should and should not include in your pet’s crate.
Basically, your pet should have a positive association with spending time in his crate. So, when choosing anything to put in the crate, your dog’s comfort and safety should always be at the forefront of your mind.
If your dog is to enjoy spending time in his crate, you need to make it den-like and comfortable for him, so including a cozy bed in the crate is essential.
The kind of bed you choose will depend on your dog.
For example, if your dog is an aggressive chewer, you want a tough mat that’s chew-proof. Bedding for puppies and adult dogs with a medical condition that causes bladder weakness or incontinence should always be waterproof and washable in case of accidents. Some pups like a firm, orthopedic bed that supports their joints, whereas others prefer a squashy, plushy bed that they can snuggle down and burrow into.
Whatever style of bed you decide to buy for your dog’s crate, it’s essential that the bed fits the crate properly. A bed that’s too small allows drafts to creep in, while a bed that’s too big can ruck up underneath the dog when he moves around, making it impossible for Fido to get comfy and potentially causing hotspots and pressure points.
Basically, we recommend choosing a comfortable, durable, waterproof bed with a washable cover that will withstand determined chewers and correctly fit the crate.
Clothing With Your Scent On It
Young puppies and dogs that suffer from separation anxiety issues can often take extra comfort from the inclusion of an item of your clothing that carries your scent in their crate. So, is it a good idea to put one of your socks or an old T-shirt in the crate?
If you’re concerned that your dog might chew or eat the clothing, you can use a special stuffable dog duvet cover that’s made for this purpose. Depending on your dog’s preference, you can choose how much stuffing to put inside the cover. These bed covers also feature a waterproof liner and are washable.
Is A Pee Mat A Good Idea?
Although you might think it’s a good idea to put a pee mat in your puppy’s crate in case of accidents, that can be counterproductive.
Pee mats and training pads are designed to let your dog know where it’s okay to relieve themselves. So, including a pee mat in the crate can be confusing for puppies that are going through the house-training process.
If you’re concerned that your puppy’s pee could find its way out of the crate and into your floor coverings, try placing a protective plastic sheet underneath the crate or choose a crate that has a plastic tray to catch liquids.
Senior dogs can develop continence problems where urine leaks out when the dog lays down. If that’s a problem for your pup, then a pee mat can be useful and can help you in the cleaning process.
Dogs can quickly become bored when left home alone in their crate, and that can lead to destructive behaviors and excessive barking. You can help to alleviate that boredom by including some safe, interactive toys in the crate.
However, choose your pup’s toys with care! Never leave soft toys or those with squeakers with your dog in his crate. If your pet chews up the toy, he could ingest bits of stuffing, fabric, or even the plastic squeaker, potentially with awful consequences.
So, always provide your dog with durable, hardwearing toys that are designed with chewers in mind. Some toys can be stuffed with treats, which is an excellent way of keeping your dog amused while you’re out and he’s left home alone.
Should I Leave Water In My Dog’s Crate?
Your dog should always have access to clean, fresh water, especially during warm weather. However, that can cause problems in your pup’s crate.
The two objections that owners usually raise for providing water in their dog’s crate are:
- The water bowl could be tipped over, creating a soggy mess in the crate.
- Potty training can be compromised if the puppy drinks excessively.
In our opinion, your dog should always have access to water if it needs to drink. Dehydration in puppies and dogs is potentially a severe condition, especially in very young puppies and in older dogs with health conditions, such as kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes. You should also bear in mind that some drugs can cause your dog to be more thirsty than usual, so he will need to drink more.
You can provide your dog with water in his crate by choosing a crate water bottle or special non-tip crate water bowls.
Seek Veterinary Advice
If your dog or puppy continually has accidents in his crate and appears to be drinking excessively, always seek veterinary advice. There could be a medical reason for your pup’s increased water intake.
Should I Feed My Dog In His Crate?
The best way to persuade your dog to associate his crate with pleasure is to feed him in it. You could try leaving the door open so that the dog doesn’t feel trapped while he eats.
Offering your dog food puzzles is also an excellent way of helping your dog to form positive associations with his crate, as well as preventing boredom and providing him with access to food. Another trick you can try is to toss a handful of dry food or treats into the crate for your dog to find. That also helps your dog to associate the crate with fun and pleasure.
However, we don’t recommend leaving a regular bowl of dog food in the crate. A loaded bowl of food could easily tip over, as well as take up space inside the crate. There’s also the risk that a bored dog might decide to chew the bowl.
The best strategy is to feed your dog shortly before bedtime and let your dog outside for a potty stop right before you settle down for the night. It takes around eight hours for a meal to work its way through the dog’s system. So, if you stick to the nighttime food rule, your dog should be just about ready for a potty break when you get up in the morning.
Should My Dog Wear a Collar in His Crate?
Ideally, your dog should not wear his collar in the crate. There are many tragic stories of dogs whose collars and dog tags became tangled in a mesh crate’s bars, strangling the poor dog.
If your dog must wear a collar and tags while he is confined in his crate, you should always use a breakaway type safety collar.
Should I Cover My Dog’s Crate?
Remember that your dog should view his crate as a safe zone and a location of comfort and security. And, sometimes, covering the crate can help to create that private, den-like space where your pet can take refuge from the hustle and bustle of a busy household. Covering a crate also helps to reduce stimulation for dogs that become upset or distracted by what’s happening around them.
However, whether or not you decide to use a crate cover depends on the type of crate you have and your dog’s personal preference.
Does Your Dog Like A Covered Crate?
If you have a stylish dog crate that’s wooden or plastic, the crate will most likely be fairly enclosed anyway, making a cover unnecessary. But a wire crate can give your dog a more secure feeling if it’s covered.
Many times, the only way to find out if your dog prefers a covered crate is to try it. You can use a folded blanket to cover the top of the crate for short periods and then open up the blanket and use it to cover the sides of the crate. If your dog appreciates the secure feeling of a covered crate, you can then go ahead and buy a proper crate cover.
Leave one side of the crate uncovered for good air circulation and ventilation, and don’t leave your dog unattended with the crate covered until you’re certain that he’s happy. If your pet begins whining, clawing at the cover, or chewing the crate, that’s his way of saying he hates it, and you should remove the cover.
You can read a full guide to the best crate covers that are available on the market in the article at this link.
What To Put In A Dog Crate
In this section of our guide, we’ve listed 10 excellent products that you need for your dog’s crate.
Here are a few of our favorite dog beds and pads that you can use in a dog crate. For full reviews, check out this article.
1. Midwest Reversible Paw Print Pet Bed
Comes in 8 different sizes
Machine-washable and tumble dryer-safe
Cozy, fluffy, synthetic fabric
This gorgeous crate bed by Midwest is excellent for dogs that need a layer of comfortable padding to protect them from a hard plastic tray or wooden floor.
The bed is reversible so that you can simply flip it over to change the look of your pet’s crate. You can wash the whole bed in your washing machine, and it can be tumble-dried safely, too. That’s great news for those who hate that doggy smell that can pervade your home.
On the downside, this is not a good choice of bed for dogs that have a chewing habit.
- Easy to clean
- Wide choice of different sizes
- Machine-washable and safe for tumble driers
- Not chew-proof
2. Brindle Shredded Memory Foam Dog Bed
Comes in 7 different sizes
Choice of 4 colors
Removable, washable cover
We love this memory foam dog bed! The bed is filled with a three-inch thick layer of medical-grade memory foam that cushions your dog and provides support for a senior dog’s arthritic joints.
The smart, microsuede cover is machine-washable, and the bed inserts are designed with longevity in mind. The cover stays fluffy, soft, and cozy for your dog, even after lots of washes.
- Contains 3-inches of supportive, comfortable memory foam
- Machine-washable, zippered cover
- Excellent quality and exceptional value for money
- Not specifically designed for dog crates but still works fine
3. K&H Pet Products Self-Warming Crate Pad
Self-warming crate mat
Comes in 6 sizes
Non-slip mat bottom
If you live in a cool climate or a location where the winters are cold, a heated pad or dog bed is a great idea for keeping your pet cozy.
However, heated veterinary pads that contain a battery or mains connection can present a safety hazard to pups that like to chew. But this self-heating dog pad from K&H Pet Products is safe.
The mat radiates your dog’s body heat back at your pet, keeping him cozy and snug during the coolest of weather. The bed has a slit cover to ensure that the pad fits most dog crate styles.
- Non-slip bottom keeps the pad still and secure
- Cozy microfleece lining
- Comes in 6 different sizes
- Not as warm as a mains-operated heated pad but safer for dogs that chew
Crate Water Bottles and Water Bowls
You can provide your dog with water in his crate without worrying that your playful pup might tip the water over. Here’s a selection of water bottles and crate water bowls that we recommend.
4. Lixit Top Fill NO-Drip Water Bottles for Dogs
Can be used inside or outside the crate
Ideal for road trips
The Lixit Top Fill No-Drip water bottle holds 44 ounces of water and is easy to fill. The bottle has a top-filling lid and a stainless steel nozzle that are hardwearing and designed to last.
The plastic mounting brackets enable you to mount the bottle in two different locations but are a little flimsy. Also, the metal ball tends to stick in the nozzle, so you need to check the bottle several times each day to make sure that your dog can get access to the water.
- Excellent value for money
- Durable and well-made
- Large capacity
- Ball might get stuck in the bottle’s nozzle
5. Poodle Pet Water Feeder Bottle
Good value for money
Eco-friendly plastic material
The Poodle Pet Water Feeder Bottle is a lightweight bottle that holds 12 ounces of water.
The bottle itself is made using eco-friendly plastic. Fixing the bottle to the crate is simple, and refilling it is a breeze. You can also use the nozzle with some of the larger water bottles that are available, so if you need a bigger bottle, you can easily swap the nozzle out.
- Well-priced for the quality
- Lightweight, pet-safe plastic
- Well-designed and bottle screws securely to the crate
- Small capacity can leak slightly
6. Pika Dog Crate Water Bottle
Excellent budget buy
Stainless steel spigot and three stainless steel balls
If you have a limited budget, the Pika Dog Kennel Water Dispenser is excellent value for your money. The bottle gives you a 15-ounce capacity, has an easy-to-use attachment, and a well-designed spigot. You can adjust the water flow to suit your dog.
The bottle is made from eco-friendly, pet-safe plastic, so you know that it’s absolutely safe for your dog.
The only downside to this bottle is that you can’t wash it in hot water, as that can deform the bottle and cause it to leak.
- Perfect for small dogs
- BPA-free, non-toxic ABS plastic
- Low price
- Can’t be washed in very hot water
7. MidWest Homes for Pets Snap’y Fit Stainless Steel Bowl
Easy to fit
Dishwasher safe, stainless steel
This excellent crate water bowl from MidWest Homes for Pets is a fixable dish that’s specifically designed for use in metal, wire dog crates.
You fix the bowl to the dog crate via screw-on brackets. If you want to fix the bowl to the outside of the crate, simply remove the brackets and refix.
The stainless steel bowl is dishwasher safe and rust-proof.
- Rust-proof stainless steel
- Exceptional quality
- Range of different sizes to suit all dogs
- Quite expensive
8. Utaomld Dual Crate Bowl
Dual bowl system
Perfect for small dogs and puppies
Easy to fit and clean
This dual-design water bowl allows you to provide your dog with food and water simultaneously.
The plastic dishes fix firmly to the side of a metal dog crate via a bracket. The package includes a water bottle that you attach to the bowls for auto-filling, meaning that your dog’s bowl will never run dry!
There’s a steel bowl liner on the food side of the bowls that’s easy to remove for cleaning.
- Easy to fit
- Provides both water and food for your dog
- Automatic refill feature via plastic bottle
- Plastic bowls can get smelly if not washed daily
Toys are an important inclusion in any dog crate, especially for teething puppies and dogs that get bored easily. Here are a few of our favorites.
9. Kong Extreme Dog Toy
KONG black rubber formula is specifically designed for power chewers
Made in the USA. Globally Sourced Materials
The KONG Extreme dog toy is designed for dogs and puppies that love to chew!
This toy is supremely durable, and its all-natural rubber construction will withstand attacks from even the most aggressive chewer! You can also use this toy as a bouncing chase toy for some out-of-crate fun.
To keep your dog busy while he’s crated, you can stuff the KONG with peanut butter or healthy treats. Freeze the toy and give it to your pup while he’s crated. Your dog will be kept busy trying to get the treats out of the toy, and the cool rubber can help to soothe the sore gums of teething puppies.
10. PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug Meal-Dispensing Dog Toy
For dogs weighing over 40 lb
Durable non-toxic materials withstand prolonged use
Interactive dog toy provides multi-sensory stimulation
The Busy Buddy Tug-A-Jug interactive dog toy is a boredom-breaking toy that encourages cognitive and physical exercise for your puppy or dog. As the dog chews, the toy’s natural rubber coating removes plaque from the teeth, helping to prevent gingivitis and canine periodontal disease.
11. Pet Zone IQ Treat Dispenser Ball Dog Toy
Engages your pooch in mental and physical activities during playtime
Adjust the toy’s difficulty as your furry friend’s cognizance evolves
Extends playtime while limiting the number of treats
Here’s another interactive toy that makes your dog work hard to get those tasty treats he craves!
You stuff the ball with your dog’s favorite treats, select the level of difficulty you want, and leave your furry friend to work out the challenge. You can choose from different degrees of difficulty to make the task harder for your dog as he learns how to play the game.
This toy provides your pet with lots of mental and physical stimulation and rewards him with a tasty treat when he works out the puzzle. This toy is also excellent for slowing down greedy eaters, preventing weight gain, and promoting healthier digestion.
The toy is easy to clean, too. Simply disassemble it and wash in warm water and dish soap.
I hope you enjoyed our guide on what to put in your dog or puppy’s crate. If you found the information useful, please take a moment to share the article.
Your dog’s crate should be a place of safety and comfort where your pet wants to spend his downtime. You should provide your pet with a comfortable, easy-clean bed, some stimulating, safe toys to keep your dog from getting bored, and a non-spill water bottle or bowl. Never crate your dog in his collar, and avoid anything that could potentially pose a choking hazard.
What do you put in your furry friend’s crate? Tell us in the comments box below.