Should You Cover Your Dog's Crate?

If you've ever had a pet bird, you probably appreciate the value of throwing a cover over a cage or crate. To establish set sleeping hours on a regular basis, many bird owners will drape their bird's cages with a cotton sheet, which signifies two things: it's time for bed when the cover goes on, and it's a brand new day when the cover comes off. While it's usually implemented for slightly different reasons, the same concept is used by some on dogs in crates. But should you cover your dog's crate?

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Puppy in Crate
credit: Paul Park/Moment Open/GettyImages

The benefits of crate training

Whether you have a new puppy, just adopted a canine companion, or are looking to establish a routine with your dog, crate training is probably a suggestion you've heard a hundred times. While some consider it "sad" to keep their dogs caged up behind bars, most people, including many professionals, insist that keeping dogs in crates usually does no harm. Why? According to The Humane Society of the United States, a crate mimics the feel and security of a den, which a dog would naturally seek out as living quarters if left to their own devices.

Additionally, crate training is a good way to teach your dog boundaries. Many people adopt the method to potty train their puppies or dogs, while some use the crate to keep their dogs from getting into things when left unsupervised. A crate can also be used to provide a place your dog can go to get away from it all, be that for rest, or to calm down when he gets too excited or anxious. As long as the crate isn't used as a way to explicitly punish dogs, most respond well to the method and grow to appreciate having their own space, says Modern Dog Magazine.

Why cover a crate?

People who choose to cover their dog's crates do so for many reasons. One of the most common reasons according to Pet Crates Direct, is to reduce anxiety, particularly for dogs who are kept in wire crates. For some dogs, the stimulation of their home environment can simply be too much to allow them to relax. Maybe you have kids running around, or you keep a nightlight or the television on to help you fall asleep. While a crate is intended to serve as a safe sanctuary for a dog to call home, witnessing what's going on around her as she's confined to a small area may make her feel more vulnerable.

Should you cover?

When it comes to whether or not you should cover your dog's crate, the honest answer is — it depends on your dog. That said, it can't hurt to try if you think it's something that might benefit him. If you're working with a puppy, start acclimating him early, so he's already used to the crate in his adult years. If you've brought home a new dog, or just want to try something new with your family pet, stay close by her crate after you've covered it. If she seems nervous, remove the cover and reward her with a treat before trying it again, which will help her associate positive experiences with the covered crate.

Some dogs will not respond well to a cover or even a crate in general. If your dog is displaying behavioral issues, contact a behaviorist or professional trainer in your area to try to find a safe and healthy solution to the problem.

How to cover a crate

The purpose of a crate cover is to create a den-like surrounding. The color of your cover probably won't matter too much, especially if you're covering her at night while it's dark anyway, but you will want to make sure you choose a fabric that breathes. A cotton sheet works well in a pinch and allows for air flow. If you're going to be on the road with your dog, there are soft covers specially designed to be transportable and can turn any basic crate into a dark den in just minutes.