A soft-sided dog crate is one of which has soft sides and often a roof made from mesh or fabric. These crates offer benefits of comfort as well as ease of movement. However, they have their disadvantages too of which it is important to be aware of. Before purchasing the perfect crate for your dog, there are a few elements you have to consider. The temperature in your state, the cost you want, and even how destructive your dog is are just a few of these factors.
We are going to explore the factors you need to consider concerning a soft dog crate. This includes answering the question “are soft-sided dog crates safe?” As many owners worry about the ventilation, heating, and how sturdy the material is. So without further ado, let’s get on with it!
What are Soft-Sided Dog Crates?
Soft-sided dog crates are exactly as they sound. The surrounding material is soft and light-weight, most commonly it is mesh, fabric, or some plastics. They usually have thin metal frames to support the structure and are advertisers will commonly title them as travel crates. This is because of how lightweight they in comparison to regular dog crates. As well as them often being smaller and coming with handles. Furthermore, you can fold some crates with soft sides to help with storage when not in use. Which is a bonus when traveling to pick up a dog from the vet.
Pros of Soft-Sided Dog Crates
The main benefits of a soft-sided crate are portability, ventilation, cost, and design. Firstly this is a practical solution when you need to move your dog’s crate around or store it without it taking up much room. Many you can fold easily and slotted in the cupboard. Those that can’t be folded are still much more lightweight to light and put on a shelf out the way. These features also help with the ease of travel, especially to the vets. You can easily place it in the back of your car and unfold it upon pick up. Another practical benefit includes ventilation. These crates often have mesh walls or windows to ensure your dog has a fresh circulation of air constantly.
As opposed to regular crates, with their unique designs and soft walls, you can buy a lot of different styles and colors of soft-sided crates. So if you want something attractive or something that represents your pet’s personality, then these crates can do that! Finally, the cost is a big benefit. Large, strong crates can be quite pricey, whereas crates with soft sides can be bought for a fair price with good quality. This means they are easy to replace without breaking the bank.
Cons of Soft-Sided Dog Crates
Like with every product, soft-sided dog crates have their downfalls. These include them being difficult to clean, not the most secure, they can be fragile, as well as vulnerable during travel. The main concerns do affect safety. Firstly, if you are using this crate during a long trip in the car, it does not offer the protection that many hardy, metal crates would in the case of an emergency stop or cash. Another safety concern includes its security. With pop open clips or zips often being the method of securing your dog in, it is not the most secure. Smarter or stronger dogs will be able to work their way out of these.
Durability is another concern due to the soft material used to line the frame. Dogs can chew through the material, or stronger dogs may be able to tear stitching. So checking your dog’s behavior, strength, and the stitching of the product is key. Finally, cleaning the crate can be an issue. Many are not machine washable and you cannot always remove the soft surrounding from the frame. Therefore you have to awkwardly disinfect each corner and wash it out, which is especially difficult with fleece materials.
Soft-Sided Dog Crates – FAQs
To ensure you are confident with your choice of choosing or rejecting a soft-sided dog crate, we have answers to further questions.
Soft-sided crates can be great for puppies during travel. However, crates with a hard material frame are preferable due to their ease of cleaning and strength through puppy teething. With them commonly having accidents, especially during house training, a fabric crate can be difficult to clean and frustrating to do so repeatedly.
In themselves they are safe, however, they are not safe during car travel, or to contain strong or crafty dogs. This is because the soft material cannot protect a dog during a car crash. Furthermore, with zips and soft clippers, a dog could work or push its way out of the crate with enough determination. So the material is not a danger, but depending on your dog and how you are using the crate, it may not be the safest choice.
Crate training means you need to gradually get your dog comfortable with their crate and use positive reinforcement to create a good association. Your dog may cry a little through the process, but if you do so very gently and do not scold or force your dog, it should be minimal. Get your dog comfortable with entering and exiting the crate, then remaining there for thirty seconds, one minute, and so forward. Do not progress to a new step until you have your dog comfortable and not crying with the current. Check out our guide for more tips here.
Once they do not use the toilet inside and are comfortable in their crate, you can leave your dog in their crate but only for up to eight hours at an absolute maximum. However, we advise six hours usually as they need toilet breaks. If you have a younger dog then the amount of time you can leave them in a crate reduces as well. Furthermore, no dog should be left in their crate for hours, day in day out. They need enrichment, walks, comfort, and not to be left in a crate all the time.
Although you can clean every soft-sided crate, some are more difficult than others. The best-case scenario is a crate in which you can remove the fabric and machine wash that. However, many are not machine washable, nor can you remove the frame. So it may be the case of using disinfectant or hot soapy water in a sink to clean it.
Soft crates are a useful product offering an easy-to-carry and store crate for smaller, calmer dogs. However, those that are more active, aggressive, or crafty are not the best match for them. Some dogs can escape from these crates and they are not suitable to ensure safety in cars. Therefore you need to be sure that this crate is suitable for your dog and the use you are considering before making a purchase. For stronger dogs, consider investing in a heavy-duty pet crate.