All About Dog Crates- How to Choose The Right Dog Carrier?

Traveling is a daily activity for many pet parents. Some also take along their furry friends. Nowadays tiny dogs are accompanying their owners to all pet-friendly places like malls, coffee shops, grocery stores, and so on.

For a comfortable journey, the dog needs some compact equipment that not only transports it with ease but also gives the puppy or dog a secure feeling. The equipment that is very handy for this purpose is a dog carrier or crate. This article will provide insights into a dog carrier and how to choose one for every unique pet pal.

What Is a Dog Carrier and Why Does One Make Use of It?

A dog carrier or cage or crate is a metal, wire, plastic, or fabric enclosed gadget with a door wherein a pooch may be kept for security or transportation. 

Dog crates are generally designed to replicate a furry friend’s natural den. They are built to provide the pet pals a place of refuge at home or when traveling to new surroundings. 

A dog crate is not only used for security or travelling but also has various other usages like for toilet training a new pooch, limiting access during the dogs discipline learning sessions, , confining a dog to a confined area when it cannot safely or legally roam freely, or giving a place to it when visitors visit home.

What Features Need To Be Considered While Choosing a Crate for The Furry Pal?

The following section will provide certain guidelines that all pet parents need to follow while zeroing on the right dog carrier or crate.

1. Dog measurements need to be recorded:

One needs to know the dog’s height, length, and weight to select the right dog crate or carrier. A pet carrier needs to be large enough for a pooch so that it cannot only turn around easily and curl up but can also stretch out when lying down. 

Measure the pets back from the neck from where the collar sits, to the base of the tail and add a few extra inches to this measurement. One also needs to record the shoulder height from the top of the shoulders to the ground. 

Depending on the carrier selected one needs to add extra inches. For soft-sided carriers, one needs to add two-to-three inches to shoulder height whereas, for hard-sided carriers, three-to-five extra inches need to be included. Wearable carriers, like backpacks and slings, need to be snug and cozy and should also support the pup against one’s body, not by the carrier itself. Commercially available crates and carriers have manufacturers list size and weight limits for, and one needs to choose the right gadget based on one’s requirements. 

2. Nature of use

Choose a carrier based on the purpose it is mostly going to be used for. If it’s only for car trips or to keep the pet contained when traveling with pet parents, one can consider a lightweight carrier that is compact to carry and pack and should also be comfortable for the dog. 

There are no upper weight limits for cargo travel, but as the weight increases, the price also shoots up. The cabin weight requirement for dogs is usually 20 pounds or under. Hence, for air and train travel, one needs to check the airline website have for pet carrier specifications as there are size and construction requirements for approval to travel onboard.

3. Choose a style based on need:

Dog carriers are available in several basic styles. One should select the type that suits one’s dog and its activities. Based on the various styles the dog carriers are classified as mentioned below:

a). Standard hard-sided carriers:


One of the preferred carriers for its durability and rugged construction. These crates have a hard shell which is seen to offers extra protection for the dog and is easy to maintain. Some hard-shell carriers are approved by many airlines if the pets are too large to be stored beneath the plane seat.

b). Soft-sided carriers 

These carriers are the most popular style for transporting smaller dogs. They are typically designed to be light and portable and are also seen to fold up for easy storage. Many airlines approve this carrier for pets that can be stored beneath the seats.

c). Wearable dog carriers 


These are carriers that mimic the trending baby carriers that keep the hands free and make it easy for one to take their little dogs anywhere. Some styles allow the tiny fidos to nestle inside or keep its head free to watch the world around. Wearable carriers come in a variety of configurations that includes front- and backpacks that are washable and are lightweight. Some also come with zippers for extra added security.

d. Wheeled carriers

Pet carrier with wheels is a great option for pet parents who are going for a long journey with more plane changes. This type of carrier is best suited for dogs that are sensitive to jostling. 

e. Sling dog carriers 

This carrier type is great for young or senior small breed dogs. A sling can be bumpy as one walk so one needs to make sure that the pet in the sling is secure and will not bounce out. 

f. Wire dog crate


Wire carriers are well-ventilated and portable. This carrier type is a great option for dogs that like to enjoy viewing their surroundings, need a little extra airflow, and are not escape artists.


  • Easy to clean.
  • Offer removable panels that can accommodate growing puppies.
  • Easy to transport 
  • Foldable


  • Are noisier.

g. Plastic dog cage


This crate type is also not the most attractive kennel option but is a great choice for dogs that like extra privacy and seclusion during the nap time.


  • Possess a cozy vibe.
  • Suits well for air travel.
  • Easy to store as can be dismantled into two halves.


  • Not well-ventilated  
  • Not easy to clean and maintain.

h. Heavy-duty steel cages


These heavy duty steel crates are made to house the clever and destructive dogs. 


  • Durable
  • Airline approved 
  • Wheeled 
  • Easy to transport.


  • Slightly expensive

i. Wood or rattan crates


These Wooden fashion crates are most ideal as they can not only be used as a crate but also serve as a side table.


  • Well ventilated
  • Possess a waterproof floor


  • Not advised for destructive dogs.
  • Can be easily damaged.
  • Not suited for transportation.

j. Aluminum crates


These crates can be either fixed or folded and are suitable for use at veterinary hospitals, car travel, or as a permanent “den or kennel” for the dog. Aluminum crates are made up of solid walls or bars. The crates with bars are a better option for dogs that require extra comforts. Solid wall crates are preferred by those pets that feel secure between walls. 


  • lightweight 
  • very strong 
  • Rust free
  • Excellent airflow and vision for the pet pals.

k. Dog tents


This crate is an alternative to soft crates. This tent type cage folds down to a smaller size than soft crates and is ultra-lightweight hence can be stuffed into tent bags and taken virtually anywhere. Dog tents are not suitable for dogs who are not housebroken and cannot be used in vehicle travels.

A bag carrier usually doesn’t come with extra features, but the following extra added features can be looked upon in some designs like back, front, and side panels made of mesh for improved breathability and a crate bed or liner. Built-in dishes for water and kibble are smart add-ons for longer trips. 

How to Get a Furry Friend to Ride in a Carrier?

Many pet parents like to take their pooches with them all around, for this to happen the pet should be habituated to ride in a carrier. The best way a dog learns to ride in a carrier is through exposure, rewards, and traveling short distances. This section will provide further insights on how to train a fido to do this. The steps involved in this training are divided into the following steps.

1. Introducing the furry friend to the carrier

This section is further divided into subsections for better clarity.

a. Purchase the right carrier.

Measure the dog as per the procedure mentioned aloft. This a key step for initiating the training. Comforts are the pivotal feature for a pleasant outing.

b. Expose the pooch to the carrier.

One needs to introduce the carrier to the pooch a few weeks prior to any major travel. The following steps need to be followed to habituate the pet to the carrier.

  • Place the carrier with a soft blanket or towel in an area of the house where most of the family spend its time. 
  • Bring the dog near the carrier and talk to it in a happy voice tone. Keep in mind to keep the doors of the carrier securely wide open so it won’t hit the dog and frighten it.
  • Encourage the dog to enter the carrier by dropping some of its favorite food treats or toys from near it till the inside of the carrier and practice the pet to go inside the crate. 
  • Most of the furry pals refuse to go all the way, in at first, so one needs to continue tossing treats into the crate until the dog walks calmly all the way into the carrier to get its food. This may take a few minutes or as long as several days for the pet to accustom to the carrier.

Note: One can try using an excited voice when one gets the carrier out to develop a positive association for the dog when new items are introduced.

c. Play with the dog around the carrier. 

Playing with the dog near the carrier will enhance its comfort level with the newly introduced gadget.  The pet will begin to realize that the carrier is not threatening. For example, one could try playing fetch or tug-of-war games besides the carrier. 

d. Make use of treats to lure the dog to go inside the carrier 

Give opportunities for the dog to explore the carrier on its own. This can be done by placing a few treats inside the carrier post-opening or removing the door of the carrier. Let the dog explore the carrier at its own pace.

Note: Refrain from pushing or forcing the dog into the carrier.

e. Place the pet pal in the carrier for short periods of time

After the dog starts entering the carrier with no signs of fear or anxiety, one can confine it there for short time periods while being around it. The following steps need to be followed for retaining it inside the carrier for short time periods.

  • Call the pet over to the carrier and treat it with a goodie. 
  • Command it to enter the kennel pointing to the inside of the carrier with a treat in the hand. 
  • Post its entry into the carrier, praise and feed the treat and shut the door behind.
  • Sit quietly near the carrier for 5-10 minutes and move out of the room for some minutes. 
  • Post returning sit quietly again for a short time, then let the furry pal out of the crate. 
  • Repeat this process several times a day. 
  • With each repetition, gradually increase the length of time one leaves the fido inside the crate and the time slot one leaves it alone. 
  • Once the dog starts to stay quietly in the carrier for about 30 minutes without people around it, one can start to leave it inside the carrier when one goes out for short time periods and/or let it sleep there at night. 
  • Training a dog in this step may take several days or weeks.

2.  Coach the dog to ride in the carrier

This section explains the steps to teach the dog to ride in a carrier.

a. Select an appropriate command word. 

One can train the dog to enter the carrier without treats, by always using a selective command word. For example, one could say one of the below commands: “go into your carrier” or “into your carrier.” Make use of the same command throughout the training process. 

Note: Switching between commands will not only frustrate but will also put the dog in a dilemma.

b. Teach the dog to enter the carrier on command

Hold a treat in the hand and say the specific command for getting inside the carrier. Then place the treat in the carrier. Once the pet pal enters the carrier, reward it with another treat. Eventually, with practice, the dog will associate the command with the act of entering the carrier.

Note:  Initially practice the command without closing the dog in the carrier. As it gets more comfortable one can also start practicing by closing the carrier too.

c. Take the pet pal on short trips before making a long tedious one

Take the dog to fun places such as dog parks, cafes, malls and so on using the carrier before making a long tiresome trip. This will help the dog to associate the carrier with positive trips and experiences. Every time the dog takes a trip in the carrier reward it with its favorite treats and toys.

Note: For air travel, one should take the pet for a car ride in the carrier first. This will help it to get used to the engine noise and motion.

3. Long-distance travel in a carrier

The following steps should be followed prior to the big travel.

a. Ample workout prior to the long-distance journey.  

Giving the pet pal plenty of exercises prior to the long travel will tire the dog out and it will most likely fall asleep while traveling. This will eliminate or reduce the chances of the pet becoming restless or whining in the carrier.

Note:  It is also recommended to restrict water access to the pet two hours prior to the trip. This will aid in controlling the bladder when inside the carrier during the travel.

b. Line the bottom of the carrier with comfortable bedding.

Make the carrier a comfortable place for the dog as it is going to travel in it for a long time period. Cover the carrier or the bed inside it with its favorite blanket that it uses to sleep with.

Note: Do not wash the furry friends blanket as the familiar smell is seen to aid in comforting it during the long-distance carrier travel.

c. Put the dog’s favorite toy inside the travel crate 

Placing a toy in the carrier will keep the dog occupied to play or snuggle with during the long tedious journey. Toy placement inside the carrier is seen to not only comfort the pet but is also seen to reduce their anxiety.

d. Consult the veterinarian for sedatives

Some pooches fail to relax during long-distance carrier travels despite training them. In such cases, it is always a better option to consult the vet for relaxing sedatives prior to the travel time. The vet will assess the dog’s health and determine if a sedative is appropriate for it. Vets also recommend testing a sedative dose at home before traveling for checking its effectiveness and side effects if any. 

What are the things that should be refrained from while carrier training a pup or adult pooch?

The following points should be avoided during crate or carrier training a pet

  • Refrain from leaving the pet for long times inside the crate when not home alone.
  • Never use the carrier as a form of punishment.
  • Build a positive relationship between the dog and its crate for effective and faster training.
  • Choose the right crate based on individual dogs’ requirements.
  • Avoid leaving the dog inside the crate with a collar or leash on it.

Pet carriers FAQs

Q. Can one use a medium size pet carrier for a small dog?

A. Yes, one can use a medium-sized pet crate for a small dog if it’s very active. As these curious ones will keep turning inside. 

Q. How to control the temperature inside the carrier?

A. For temperature maintenance, one can utilize the climate control compartments available in many pet carriers to put a cooling or heating pad inside. 

Q. Is a dog carrier safe for a pet?

Yes, dogs are den animals and they look to their crate or carrier for comfort at times of stress. A correctly chosen carrier will provide this den-like structure within the home, giving the pup a safe place to sleep, retreat, and even eat.

Q. Can dog carriers be used for pets of all age groups?

A. Yes, dog carriers are the best option for dogs that are frequent travelers. But these are mostly used for small dogs and senior pets with some health issues as these dog types do not or cannot walk for long distances.

Q. What are the pros and cons of using a carrier for traveling?

A. Pros:

  • Provides a den-like atmosphere for the den animal.
  • Plays a pivotal role in potty training for tiny puppies.


  • Seen to cause physical frustrations and emotional distress.
  • Not a great option if the right carrier is not properly assembled.
  • Dangerous if not properly ventilated.
  • Pet strangulation can take place if the dog is left inside with a collar or leash on.

Final thoughts

Dog carriers aren’t just for pet pals with disabilities. It is a pivotal gadget for air, car or any travel. Choose one that is the best for one’s pet for better comfort and safety.


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Yeshwanthi Kamalraj
Yeshwanthi Kamalraj is a freelance copy editor, Pet sitter, and content writer who mainly focuses on scientific journals and health-related web pages. Before becoming a freelance content writer Yeshwanthi worked for Cenveo publishers as document analyst for various science journals published by Taylor and Francis Journals and later continued as a freelance copyeditor for the same publishers. Post marriage in 2009 Yeshwanthi developed a keen interest in pets after her husband and she brought a labrador puppy home. This interest helped her to explore a new niche of the pet sitting world whose journey is still on. Yeshwanthi is a dog lover who in her freetime enjoys listening to music, cooking, and meeting new people.


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