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Dog Crates for Adventure Time

Since we started going on adventures again recently, I have come to appreciate the versatility we have with our current dog crates.  I thought it might be helpful for those considering purchasing one to discuss a few different options.

We see a lot of loose car dogs in the drive-through.  It probably isn’t safe for sudden stops or if the dog goes berserk at the sight of another animal, but I think for most people, it works out. This here is an extreme case.

I haven’t looked for Trooper’s puppy photos yet so I don’t have any pictures of Trooper is his old crate. This one onlineis basically the same thing – air slats, locking front door, solid, hard-side. These can be expensive so if you are purchasing one for air travel, make sure it meets all the airline requirements BEFORE you buy it.

When Trooper was a puppy, I purchased a (rather large) heavy-duty dog crate for him.  I wanted to make sure he had room to grow and that it was comfortable.  If there had been ‘half size’ dog crates available, I probably would have preferred a half size down.  The full size down was too small so we ended up with a probably-too-large dog crate.  It was eventually used when I had to ship Trooper across the United States, from Seattle, Washington to Hartford, Connecticut.  (We’ll save that completely successful, but wildly distressing story for another time.)

These heavy-duty dog crates are great for dogs who might try to chew their way out of wire crates or who need to travel by airplane.  They are often more expensive than soft-sided crates.  Because it did not collapse down into an easy-to-store size, we eventually sold it.

Sydney came with a folds-flat wire crate.  She used it with ease and sought it out to sleep.  She has always enjoyed her crate so using it for training was (kind of) an option.  The problem with it is you can see right through it.  So if someone was coming in the house or I was trying to work with just Trooper, the ability to see the action was more than she could handle.  It was also not a good fit for our Honda so it couldn’t be used for traveling.  Lastly, it was terribly rusted and I often worried about cutting myself on a rough edge.

So this crate, while super easy to clean and store, was not a good match for Sydney or our needs.

This is the wire crate and dog bed that Sydney came with. She willingly went into it but it did not fit well in our Honda Fit.  Boy, she really doesn’t like getting her photo taken!

Choosing Two Soft Dog Crates

Prior to our big move, I started looking at types of dog crates online and decided rather quickly on this crate for Trooper ($66.08 at time of purchase; size Medium).  (The product page does a poor job of showing off the different sides of the crate but you can read the product details and reviews for more info.)  It was really intended for Sydney most of the time but was selected because it was big enough for Trooper.  A few months later, we purchased a second crate for Sydney; this one much smaller with a slightly different design ($49.61 at time of purchase; size Medium).

Sydney’s crate has a zippered door on both of the long sides.  Trooper’s is solid on one side with a door on the other, but it also has an opening on the short side.  That feature has worked out great for when we can’t make the long side available for entry due to room/car constraints.  Both crates have access portals through the top as well.

After extensive use and repeated collapsing/assembling, we have cause a minor problem with each crate.  Sydney’s zipper on one side doesn’t stay closed if it is zipped shut from right to left.  If zipped from left to right, however, it does fine.  Not a big deal but it does require that you remember to zip it the correct way.  I may eventually order a replacement cover.

Just one car option for the dog crates – one crate is accessible from the back hatch and the other, situated perpendicular to it, is accessible from a passenger door.

With Trooper’s crate, I was pulling back the slide mechanism to connect the two sides of the frame and I pulled too hard and disengaged it at an angle.  A a result, a small piece of the plastic broke off and now the frame on that side no longer reliably stays together.  Despite the frame not being 100% connected, we still use this crate in the car on a daily basis.  So it really isn’t a problem – it just makes the top of the crate less suitable as a shelf for other belongings we are taking with us.

Having multiple dog entry windows to choose from in both dog crates makes arranging the crates in the car much easier and more versatile.  Also, if we start a journey with both crates but need more room on the way home (i.e. from groceries, things we find in the woods, etc), we can always break Trooper’s crate down.  (Sydney is always crated in the car for both her comfort and our driving safety.)

We see a lot of dogs in truck beds here. They are even left untethered while owners go into shops and restaurants.

We have also seen plenty of work dogs that are being transported to a job site or traveling with their herd – they are expert balancing dogs.

Another benefit of our soft dog crates is that the pad cover and the entire crate cover can both be thrown in the wash.  Of course, hard dog crates and wire crates can just be sprayed down, which is also easy.  We have been really happy with these crates and the dogs seem to enjoy them too.

Time for more fun!

Following is probably an unnecessary amount of photos of the dogs in their crates:

Our load-up routine with Sydney involves opening the door on that side of the car and allowing her to be outside. She eventually discovers the door is open she jumps inside. This practice has completely removed the indoor excitement bark/pant routine that previously preceded going on trips.  Look at how much room is in that crate!

Even she can’t believe how spacious it is!  (Note the hanging metal bar to the right – that’s the bar that won’t stay in its clip.)

Our current travel arrangement – Trooper has a few towels behind the driver and Sydney is in the big crate. We throw lightweight objects on top of the crate and pack water, snacks, dog leashes, etc behind the dogs and accessible from the hatch.

How many dogs do you see?  While on an adventure this past weekend, the dogs were outside for about 6 hours. When we got back to the car, Sydney immediately asked to get in her crate (pretty standard behavior). I opened her door and then sat in the passenger seat to have a snack. I lost sight of Trooper and eventually started looking for him…and I found he had also sought out the shade and comfort of the crate. This has happened on two other occasions over the past 3 years and each time it does, I am incredibly surprised a dog fight hasn’t broken out. Sydney loves company but Trooper is another story. What funny dogs.