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Plastic kennels are good for dogs who like security. Adding toys can also help dogs to feel more at home.

SIOUX CITY | Deciding to kennel a dog isn’t easy, but it’s an important choice for pet owners.

It might seem mean to put a dog in a kennel but, according to Petco store manager Jerry Barlow, dogs are comfortable in smaller environments.

“Dogs are naturally denning animals,” he said. “To be in a small confined space is a natural thing for them.”

The key, however, is to make sure the kennel is properly sized. The dog should be able to stand up and stretch, so the kennel should be a little longer than the dog (not including the tail) and a little taller. If those specifications are followed, the dog should be able to turn around.

“If you get the proper height and the proper length, the width will normally work out,” Barlow said.

There are two main types of kennels: wire and plastic. Wire kennels have a plastic base and are collapsible for easy storage and transportation. Plastic kennels are good for dogs that need more security and don’t like to see out of their kennel from all angles.

Barlow recommended kenneling puppies right away so they get used to the concept and can be corralled when they aren’t being watched. He suggested using a wire kennel for the puppy barrier and so the dog can see its surroundings.

A puppy barrier allows pet owners to buy a crate large enough to fit the puppy when it becomes full-sized, but then it blocks off sections to prevent accidents in the kennel before it’s potty trained.

“If you give them too much space, it becomes a two bedroom apartment,” Barlow said. “The puppy will think, ‘The first room is where I lay, the back room is where I go.’”

Adjusting a puppy to a kennel when it’s used to being with its mom and littermates can be difficult, so Barlow recommends keeping stuffed toys and heating pads in the kennel to help comfort the puppy.

Buying a properly sized wire kennel with a puppy barrier that will fit the estimated adult size of the dog is convenient and cost effective.

“It just makes sense to buy the adult sized kennel right away,” Barlow said. “That way you aren’t buying multiple kennels over a short period of time.”

On the other hand, plastic kennels are required for airline use, so for families that wish to travel with their pets, plastic kennels are the way to go.

“When buying a kennel, you have to plan and think how you’re going to use it,” Barlow said.

When it comes to crating two dogs together, Barlow recommended holding off unless the personalities of the dogs are well known.

“You have to know the personalities of your own dogs,” he said. “If they need their own space, you can’t be budget-minded.”

Regardless of personality, Barlow noted that for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to house dogs separately.

“If you are at work for eight hours a day, I would keep them in two separate cages,” he said. “Put them next to each other if they get lonely so they can talk, but keep them separated. Dominance issues can happen when dogs are kept in too close of quarters.”

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