Many compassionate pet owners introduce crate training as a way to encourage order and calm in their dog’s life. Crates, when used properly, are great for dogs!
One question our vets get often is whether or not it’s okay to cover a dog’s crate. Many well-meaning dog parents wonder if it’s harmful to their dog in some way to cover the crate, or if it’s even ethical.
Let’s talk it out.
Why Would You Cover Your Dog’s Crate?
Some dogs relax easier than others. For many pups, all the sights and sounds outside the crate are too distracting to allow them to be calm. In some cases, dogs might even find the crate confining if there’s a lot of stimulation going out outside. Dogs who can’t seem to settle in their crates often benefit from their crate being covered to block out (or muffle) a bit of the light and noise around the room.
Crate covering can be particularly useful for training your dog when to sleep and when to play. A crate with a covering might indicate to her that it’s night and time to go to sleep; when the cover comes off, she’s free to come out and play. Likewise, some dog owners find it helpful to travel with a crate cover in case unfamiliar sights and smells overstimulate their dog.
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So Is It Okay to Cover My Dog’s Crate?
Yes! There’s a caveat, though: Never, ever cover your dog’s crate as punishment. (In fact, your dog should never be put in her crate for punishment…it should be her refuge.) Not only is it ineffective to try and punish your dog by covering her crate, it’s also a little cruel. Just imagine being shut inside a dark closet because you did something wrong. No good, right?
When covering your dog’s crate you want to be mindful about what kind of covering you use. A light, thin sheet can work wonders. Be careful not to use anything too heavy or thick – you want your dog to have plenty of air-flow inside her crate lest she get too hot or even has trouble getting enough air to be comfortable.
When Should I Not Cover My Dog’s Crate?
There are times when you should avoid covering your dog’s crate, even if she’s used to it. If your dog is ill, it’s probably not a good idea to cover her crate. You want to be able to keep a good eye on her and you also want to help her regulate her temperature and breathing.
It can also be problematic to cover your dog’s crate if she’s a chewer. Strips of cloth or even zippers can be chewed off of crate covers from inside the crate itself, and those can be incredibly dangerous to your dog. If your dog can’t resist chewing, look into specially-made crate covers for your size crate, or just ditch the cover altogether.