Locking your dog in a cage might seem like cruelty. It can be. But dog owners often find to their surprise that, even with the door open, Beagles like to stay in their crates. The key to the dog’s comfort and to getting full value out of a dog crate is to select the right one. So, how do you do that?
Dog crates can be used for housebreaking training, transportation, safety for other animals, and other uses. Keep that in mind when picking out the one you want.
If you plan only to use a crate as part of your housebreaking training, a smaller or less sturdy (and therefore – usually – less expensive) crate will do. By the time your Beagle puppy outgrows it, housebreaking will already have been completed. But consider that you may want a more long term alternative. Do you want to have to buy a new crate a few months after the first one? A good one will last the dog’s lifetime and beyond.
Also, when thinking about short-term vs long-term use, consider the materials used in the crate’s construction. Some well-made plastic crates are sturdier, safer, stronger, and more long-lasting than a cheaply made wire one. Plastic is more breakable, but wire soldering can come loose under the pressure exerted by the dog or transportation.
When considering a wire cage, look at the gauge. Smaller numbers indicate thicker wire. A 7 gauge wire is thicker and stronger than 11-gauge wire. Consider, too, the width of the wire spacing (also relevant for plastic crates). Just as with small children, it’s easier to get a head out than back in again. Keep it below 2 inches. That adds some weight, which is a little inconvenient when used for trips to the vet and store. But it makes for a much safer and stronger crate.
Size is another important component of your decision. You can go a little smaller if you plan only for short-term use, but don’t go too small. Even when used just for housebreaking, it’s critical that the puppy be able to move away from any ‘accidents’. It’s simply a myth that dogs will not lay in their own urine or feces. They may not like it, but they’re not rigid about it, either, especially once they’ve been forced to get used to it.
For longer term use, a larger size is even more important. Beagles are not large dogs (the average adult weighs about 25 lbs and grows to about 14 inches in height at the shoulder), but adults are certainly much bigger than puppies. Adults also need more room to turn around, stand, and turn over. Allow at least 6 inches above the dog’s head and a foot beyond their length in all directions.
Last, don’t neglect your own convenience. Many crates are a solid design, meaning the cage shape is static. Others allow for the cage to be folded – the edges are all on hinges that can be locked or unlocked. That feature can come in very handy when moving your home furnishings or just storing the crate when it’s not wanted.
If you do plan to use a crate to house your Beagle, temporarily or long-term, consider spending a little more to give him the maximum comfort and safety and yourself the most peace of mind.