If you’re traveling, if you need a place to get your dog out of your hair for a few hours or if you need a permanent place for your pup to sleep, then you need a dog crate.

Back in the day, crates were homemade affairs, usually more functional than pretty, but they got the job done. Today, crates come in a variety of configurations, and they’re relatively cheap, tough, and convenient.

There are two common styles: wire crates and plastic airline crates. There are pros and cons to both.

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Plastic airline crates are by far the more popular of the two. They come in sizes small enough for toy poodles up to crates large enough for the largest hunting breeds. If you plan to fly your dog anywhere, a plastic airline crate is usually the only type of crate airlines will allow.

However, they do have drawbacks. If you’ll be using your airline crate to transport your dog in the back of your truck, airline crates, although adequately ventilated, can hinder the flow of cool air. One answer to that problem–and a good one–is to invest in inexpensive fans that mount on the door of the kennel. Even in hot weather, a steady stream of cool air will keep your dog comfortable.

For really hot weather, however, a wire crate is the way to go. They let air move over your dog freely, allowing him to cool much more quickly, and combined with a door fan, they’re a great combination for summer and fall training and hunting. Plus, some of them are collapsible, making them easy to store and transport.

In cold weather, an insulated cover for you crate is a must. Insulated covers come in a variety of styles and price ranges, and all are sized to fit plastic airline crates. However, most of them will fit wire crates reasonably well, although not quite as snugly. Remember to always leave an opening along the side or bottom of the cover’s doorway. Zipping it closed too tightly can cut off air circulation.

It’s never a great idea to place a crate in the back of an open pickup bed either. If you must do so, make sure to strap it down securely. Flying a dog is something you want to do in an airline, not on the highway.

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