What does your dog get up to when you go out?
Perhaps the neighbors complain the dog barks all the time.
Or maybe you came back to a scene of domestic destruction with a chewed sofa or dog mess on the floor.
If these scenarios sound familiar then it may be that your dog suffers from separation anxiety.
This is a psychological condition where a dog struggles to cope with solitude.
They rely on human company and feel distressed when left alone.
This can lead to the dog calling for attention (persistent barking), attempting to escape (scratching at doors or walls, or trying to dig their way out), or displacement activities such as destroying cushions and drapes.
As well as destroying property this can place the dog in danger, for example, if they chew on electrical cables.
It might be you feel the safest thing is to protect the dog inside a crate while you are out.
This sounds like a good idea on the first inspection, but it can do more harm than good to the dog’s mental well-being.
Some dogs suffer such extreme anxiety that being closely confined to a crate causes them even more distress.
With their coping mechanism out of reach, they may desperately try to escape from the crate and hurt themselves in the process.
With this in mind, there are a number of important considerations when choosing the best crate for a dog with separation anxiety.
Best Crates For Dogs With Separation Anxiety
When you have a dog with separation anxiety, you may decide to travel with your dog rather than leave them in the unfamiliar surroundings of a kennel.
However, this raises the question of keeping the dog safely confined in a motel room, on those times when you can’t be with them.
The answer is this MidWest.
It is a sturdy metal crate with a removable plastic pan, but the great thing is that it can be folded flat to transport it.
This means the crate can travel with you and your dog’s den can be reconstructed in minutes.
The MidWest iCrate comes in a range of sizes, so choose carefully.
Ideally, you want the dog to be able to lie down with their legs outstretched and to be able to stand without lowering their heads.
Smaller than this and the dog risks feeling cramped, larger than this and the dog may decide to soil inside.
One disadvantage of this crate where dogs with separation anxiety are concerned is nothing the manufacturer can do anything about.
That is the metal bars.
A distressed dog that tries to bite or claw their way out is liable to hurt their mouth or claws.
Another consideration is that the MidWest has open sides that can leave a dog feeling exposed and vulnerable.
Happily, this is easily dealt with by throwing a heavy blanket over the top to provide a barrier from intrusive eyes to help the dog feel safer.
However, every down has an upside, because that metal grill does mean great ventilation in hot weather, and lowers the risk of overheating.
Our number 2 choice is the Petmate.
This is a plastic crate with a hinged front door and a carry handle.
It is primarily designed as a portable pet carrier (compatible with some air freight regulations for livestock) but can also double as a dog bed come crate.
Again, this is best suited to small to medium-sized dogs (different sized compass kennels are available).
The plastic sides mean that it is easily cleaned, so for the anxious dog that soils themselves, this makes the cleanup super simple – simply take it outside and hose it off.
Lack of ventilation could be an issue on a hot day, but the air slots are adequate in normal weather conditions.
We particularly liked how this could be disassembled, with the ‘roof’ or ‘lid’ removed, leaving the lower pan to form a regular dog bed.
This is super helpful when getting a dog used to sleeping in it as a bed.
As they become more accepting, you can add the ‘roof’ but leave the door open.
This may well give them an extra feeling of security and help them to look at this as a den and a good place to escape to when life starts to get too much for them.
It is also useful to know that transporting your dog in this Petmate may also help protect them in the event of a car crash.
Dogs with separation anxiety don’t like being alone.
To help them get used to a crate it helps if they still feel part of the family.
This means putting the crate in a room where they can watch what’s going on, such as a living room.
The Richell fits in with this idea because it doubles as a regular piece of furniture, as a side table.
This crate is made from natural wood and is easier on the eye than metal crates.
Again, one box this ticks as the best crate for a dog with separation anxiety is the wooden construction which has a nice, snuggly feel to it.
The design allows for good air circulation, which makes the dog less liable to overheating on a hot day than other designs.
The Richell comes with a removable inner tray, for easy cleaning, and the wood has a stain-resistant finish.
This is a considered purchase, given the price tag, but for the right dog could be a great solution to helping them settle while you’re gone.
We like how the piece doubles as furniture, so for the insecure dog that dislikes attention; they can slink inside and be overlooked by visitors.
On the minus side, the wooden construction does mean it wouldn’t stand up to the efforts of a determined chewer.
This may not be the best selection if your anxious dog is likely to try and chew their way to freedom, but other than that it is a lovely crate that will keep both dog and pet parent content.
Let’s move up a scale in terms of size and sturdiness.
If you have a large breed dog, such as a Doberman, German shepherd, or Rottweiler, then an ordinary metal crate could collapse if the dog panicked inside.
The answer is a truly sturdy crate made of heavy-duty steel, which can withstand efforts of a desperate dog to escape.
Again, be aware that if your dog panics then confining them is not the answer, but for the dog you are reasonably confident they will settle, then this crate will keep them safe.
Use this alongside behavioral therapies to address the underlying separation anxiety, and use strategies to distract them to minimize the impact.
Simple ideas are feeding their meals in a Kong containing frozen canned dog meat and putting this in the crate with them.
Thus as they work away getting the food out, by the time they’re finished they are so tuckered out they settle down to sleep.
Once again, the price tag reflects the quality of the construction, and although a considered purchase it is that rare thing, a crate that can cope with a large or giant breed dog.
Those who purchased and road-tested the Silverlake heavy-duty crate were all impressed with its sturdiness.
It coped with even the most determined of large breed escape artists, which means peace of mind that your dog isn’t going to get out and run onto the road.
It offers a sense of security for the pet parent, which could possibly be lacking in the Richell crate.
Our next choice is the best crate for a dog with separation anxiety that is a small or toy breed.
The Tristar Craft is a cute item made from pink or blue hardboard sheets and designed to look like a playhouse.
It’s a sweet crate that looks less like a doggy prison and more like a dog holiday destination.
We like the wooden construction because this gives the dog a greater sense of security, as they are not on view from all sides.
Although it has small ‘windows’ on the sides, and a metal grill door, one downside is the lack of ventilation which could be a problem in hot weather.
The Tristar comes in two colors but just one size, and is best for small dogs.
Whilst this isn’t built to be ultra-sturdy, we like how the wooden walls mean a scrabbling dog is less likely to hurt themselves.
A dog in a panic may try to claw their way out, which on a metal crate means tore toenails and bleeding toes.
Happily, the smooth sides mean less for a dog to injure themselves on.
You know your dog, so think carefully before deciding if a crate is something they can cope with.
On the plus side, when done correctly a crate can offer a safe den for an anxious dog, somewhere to retreat to when the going gets tough, which can decrease their anxiety and stop the scratching.
Always follow the golden rule which is never to force your dog into the crate.
Instead, make it an inviting place to be by providing a soft bed and some favorite toys.
Indeed, get the good vibes going by regularly scattering treats inside so the dog links it to nice things happening.
When you leave the dog in the crate, it helps to give them a distraction, such as their dinner served up in a Kong.
You could also put a piece of your old clothing inside, to provide a familiar scent, which may help them to settle.
Last but not least, sitting the crate near a DAP(Dog Appeasing Pheromones) diffuser can also help, as those reassuring pheromones send out reassuring messages so their crate becomes their new favorite place to spend time.