Katie and Her Crates

As of today, Katie is on her third crate.

That isn’t because she is destroying them, more poor choices on my part.

Katie was crate trained to begin with – coming from a show breeder, that was to be expected. In fact, she not only sleeps in her crate, but she goes into it to be fed – I haven’t trained her to do this, she does it automatically. At the same time, I think this is a good idea, as it associates the crate with good things.

"Posh" Crate
“Posh” Crate
For Katie’s first crate, I bought a piece of furniture. I was going to have her crate in the lounge, and I didn’t want a bare wire crate sitting there. The crate is wooden, but with metal bars all round, so it is perfectly good as far as seeing stuff and ventilation. At the same time, I also bought a wire crate for travelling, as the wooden crate is heavy, and the wire crates are cheap enough.

I loved the look of my “posh” crate, but one thing hadn’t sunk in. Whereas most (all?) wire crates have a removable metal or plastic tray in them, the wooden crate didn’t. Even if I had realised this, I wouldn’t have thought it would matter, as Katie would have blankets and pillows in there.

The first night – the very first night – must have been trying for Katie. Thinking about it now, perhaps I should have slept downstairs with her, but she seemed pretty settled. Anyway, I woke up to find she had messed herself, and pee and poo were everywhere!

Getting back to the wire crate with their trays. If there is an accident, the tray will normally catch all of it, and you simply unlatch one end of the crate, slide the tray out, keeping it level, and take it outside. Easy cleanup. The “posh” crate had no tray. Poo was everywhere. Furthermore, as it does not easily come apart (turn it over and remove screws), the only way to clean it thoroughly was with my head and shoulders inside it.

Clean it I did, but I did not relish doing it again. So the next night she was in the wire crate, and she soon settled in. Since then, the posh crate has been used as way to store things I don’t want Katie to get near.

I’d bought both crates in advance of picking Katie up. The wire one was a 36″ crate, which is what I thought I needed. When I went to pick Katie up, the breeder volunteered that she thought a 30″ crate was probably better. But a 36″ crate is what I had, so I thought I would try her with it. I also had a divider that I could use to make the crate internally smaller.

36-inch Wire Crate
36-inch Wire Crate
Katie got on fine with the 36″ crate, first in the conservatory, then later in a spot under a counter in the kitchen. She has slept there, quite happily, until very recently. The only downside is that I’d previously used the space for a trolley containing kitchen equipment. But it seemed to work for her, so I moved the trolley, and made do.

Recently, the weather here has been extremely hot. About a week ago, I put Katie to bed, and very soon heard her in distress – panting loudly and continuously. I went out and set up a fan to blow on/through her crate and she seemed to settle down.

The following night, she started panting almost immediately, even with the fan. As she had previously been lying in various parts of the lounge, without so much as heavy breathing, I concluded that it was simply too warm for her out there. I brought the crate into the lounge, and just plunked it in the middle of the dining area, with the fan blowing through it. After about 20 minutes, she settled down.

So it was clear that the kitchen spot wasn’t getting enough air, and – at least for the moment – she would need to sleep in the living room. But I don’t really want to keep moving her around, dependant on the weather, so I made a decision. My appliance trolley could have its place back under the counter, and I would make room in the living room for Katie’s crate. The problem was – away from its kitchen spot – it looked so big.

I remembered the breeder’s advice, and bought another crate – this one 30″. If that sounds extravagant, these wire crates are only £25-30 each. 30″ doesn’t sound much smaller than 36″, but it is actually a world of difference, as all the dimensions are proportional. The crate is now in a slight alcove, in front of the TV (which is wall mounted, so this is not an issue). I don’t know if it will stay there, but I am happy for now.

30-inch Wire Crate
30-inch Wire Crate
As for Katie, although she seemed happy in the kitchen, she loves it in the new spot. She goes in and out of the crate several times a day, and even after her bedtime, she isn’t bothered if I watch a bit more TV. One of my original reasons for putting her out the kitchen was to give her some quiet, but she doesn’t seem to need it. Who knew.

The other amusement is that when I first moved her to the wire crate, I followed what I was told about covering the crate to make it a den. Katie did not like this at all. She would attack the covering (a nice dog patterned single duvet cover) and tear at it through the wire, and when outside, drag it off. We now have a completely uncovered crate, and she seems to like it.

Every now and then I consider the “posh crate” again, and whether Katie would take to it now she feels safe and secure here. One day I may look at it to see if I can adapt some kind of dog bed or shallow storage crate into a tray for the thing, so if a very rare accident happens, it isn’t the end of the world. But for now, we are living with what we have.

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