You want to housebreak your dog through crate training, but you don't know whether to choose a plastic or metal wire crate. As long as it's the proper size, either type of crate can be a good choice. But each type has its share of drawbacks.
Regardless of whether you opt for a plastic or wire crate, you must make sure it's not too small or too big for your pooch. She must be able to stand up, lie down and turn around comfortably. But that's all the bigger the crate should be. Dogs naturally don't want to soil where they sleep, and a too-big crate will allow them to have a potty on one end and a bedroom at the other, which defeats the point of crate training.
Advantages of Wire Crates
Wire crates allow a tremendous amount of air flow, which is especially helpful for dogs with longer coats and those living in hotter climates. This open-air construction also allows your dog to see everything around him, including you. Many wire crates fold flat for easier storage or moving, and many come with divider panels that allow you adjust the size of the cage as your pup grows. Many also feature a sliding tray for accidents, making cleanup easier.
Disadvantages of Wire Crates
Allowing your dog to see the family from a wire crate is usually comforting for him, but it could lead to whining, barking and stress when he can't get to you. Also, some wire crates have gaps between the bars on the bottom that may be too big for smaller breeds who might not be able to set their paws down comfortably. And smaller dogs in colder climates would do better in crates that limit airflow and thus allow them to retain some of their body heat.
Advantages of Plastic Crates
Plastic crates are far lighter than metal wire crates, and many plastic crates can be popped apart for easy storage. The bottoms of most crates that break down can become dog beds after the crate is no longer needed. Plastic crates have holes through which your pup can see, but this limited view also allows for more privacy for your dog and blocks potential distractions. Independent of training, plastic crates are usually airline-approved, whereas metal wire crates are not.
Disadvantages of Wire Crates
In addition to limited view and air movement, enclosed plastic crates can stress a curious dog who may feel isolated. Plastic crates can also hold odors from accidents over time, which can make them hard to keep clean and fresh. And though many plastic crates break down, they cannot fold flat, which can be a problem for storage or moving.
By Scott Morgan
About the Author
Scott Morgan is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered central New Jersey since 2001. He has worked with the Princeton Packet Newsgroup, US 1 Publishing, "Unique Homes Magazine" and Community News Service. Morgan also serves as a professional speaker and teacher. He holds a bachelor's degree in humanities from Thomas Edison State College.