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DOG / training & behavior

Crates, Carriers, Gates and Kennels: What’s Best for My Dog?

Your dog is your best friend, but sometimes you both need some alone time. A guide to your options.


Your dog is your best friend, but sometimes you both need some alone time. These containment choices can help keep your dog corralled and comfortable:


A sturdy carrier is a handy way to transport your dog and it doubles as a cozy hideout at home. When choosing a carrier, be sure it’s just big enough for your dog to stand up, lie down and turn around in.


Constructed of lightweight but sturdy plastic, a hard-sided carrier makes a perfect portable den where your pet can feel safe. Line the carrier with a washable foam pad and maybe a blanket, for extra security and softness. Hard-sided crates are also ideal to contain your dog when you’re traveling by car.

Consider a hard-sided carrier if you are:

  • Going on a road trip with your dog in a car
  • Transporting your dog in an airline cargo hold


Usually made of fabric, a soft carrier is a good option for toting a small dog across relatively short distances. It’s also the carrier of choice if you’re flying with your dog in the main cabin of an airplane.

Consider a soft-sided carrier if you are:

  • Flying with your dog in the main cabin of an airplane
  • just out and about and want to carry your small dog with you

Wire Crates

This option tends to be too big and not sturdy enough for transportation. But a wire crate is an affordable and easy way to keep a dog out of mischief if you have to leave your pet home alone for a little while. Make sure there’s enough room in the crate for your dog to move around comfortably. A pad or bed on the floor will keep your pet happy.

Consider a wire crate if you:

  • need to be away from your dog for a few hours
  • are crate training your dog

Kennels and pens

Think of this as a playpen for dogs. A sturdy metal or chain-link kennel or a metal, plastic or nylon pen is roomier than a wire crate (though not always as portable), which allows dogs to run around a little. They’re usually used outdoors.

Consider a pen if you:

  • Need a temporary area to contain your dog that’s more portable than a crate
  • Want to add additional lounging space to his crate or sleeping spot
  • Want to include your dog in outdoor activities — but don’t want to give him the run of the yard
  • Need to contain more than one dog
  • Need to give your dog a safe environment to dry off after a bath or recovery from an injury


This is the canine version of a baby gate. These easy-setup temporary barriers can go up in a doorway or hallway, keeping your dog out of off-limits areas in your house.

Pressure-mounted gates

Consider a pressure-mounted gate if you:

  • Want a simple solution that doesn’t require tools or hardware to set up
  • Plan to move the gate from room to room
  • Want to block off angled openings
  • Have a dog who tends to squeeze through tight spaces

Hardware-mounted gates

Consider a hardware-mounted gate if you:

  • Have a dog who tends to knock things over
  • Don’t mind using hardware and tools to secure the gate to a solid door frame
  • Don’t plan to move the gate often
  • Need a gate at the top of a staircase

Free-standing gates

Consider a free-standing gate if you:

  • Have a small to mid-sized dog
  • Have a dog who won’t jump over or knock down obstacle
  • Need a gate that’s easily portable
  • Need your gate to span a wide entrance or have walls won’t support a pressure- or hardware-mounted gate
  • Aren’t using your gate to block off a staircase
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