dog sleeping in covered crate
Pet Care Advice

Should I Cover My Dog’s Crate?

Do you have a dog who never settles in their crate and seems distracted by the smallest thing like a cat or child passing by? You may be wondering if you should cover your dog’s crate!

Covering your dog’s kennel is a personal decision that will vary depending on your preferences, your dog’s needs, and your environment. Some dogs find crate covers comforting, settle easier with them on, and enjoy the warmth the cover provides.

Others will dislike the cover and it may cause anxiety. When used incorrectly, crate covers can lead to problems such as heat stroke, suffocation, or choking hazards.

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons to crate covers, how to use them, and more!

french bulldog under blanket
Small Dog Under Covers

5 Reasons to Cover Your Dog’s Crate

1.     Removes Distractions

Some dogs get very distracted and even anxious in their crate, especially when it’s new to them. Some will benefit from a crate cover that blocks out sights and muffles noises.

This is especially helpful if you have an anxious traveler who gets overwhelmed by crowds and unfamiliar environments. Covering their crate can give them peace and security since they’ll have their own little den to hide in.

The crate cover might also help when guests are over or there’s a lot going on in your home.

2.     Blocks Light

Dogs love having a dark, quiet place to nap. Puppies, especially, can benefit from nap time in a covered crate. It’s a great place for them to wind down after playing and running about!

Covering the crate can even help your puppy learn when it’s time to sleep. Of course, always remember to be realistic with your expectations—no dog should be crated for the majority of the day or expected to sleep before they’ve had ample exercise.

Some puppies will sleep in longer in the mornings when no light can get into their kennel, allowing you to get your rest as well.

3.     Added Security

As we discussed above, blocking out distractions and light will make most dogs feel secure. Wolves create dens for themselves in the wild, and although our domestic canines are far removed from their ancestors, many of them retain this instinct.

Especially if you see your dog using their crate to escape your hectic household or to hide from the kids, a crate cover might make them feel even safer and cozier.

4.     Retains Heat

Our homes typically stay at ideal temperatures for dogs since they like the same conditions as people. But if your dog is housed in a drafty area or you don’t have heat, crate covers can help to keep your dog warmer.

They can also help when traveling in the winter, especially if your dog has to ride in the bed of a truck or you like the windows down. Insulated crate covers are perfect for this type of outing!

In combination with plush bedding at the bottom of the crate, your dog will feel warm and toasty.

5.     Aesthetic Purposes

A bulky wire crate doesn’t look nice in many households. You could purchase an expensive, handmade kennel, but the easier, cheaper thing to do is to purchase a crate cover.

They come in various colors and styles, so there’s sure to be one that blends into your home décor.

frenchie in covered dog crate
Frech Bull Dog in Covered Crate

4 Reasons Not to Cover Your Dog’s Crate

1.     Blocks Airflow

When you cover your dog’s crate, less air can circulate in and out of it. If the crate is fully covered, this may lead to suffocation.

This is why it’s crucial to leave at least one side of the crate uncovered.

Thin covers with breathable fabric will allow more air circulation, as will covers with mesh windows at the sides, top, or back of the crate.

2.     Retains Heat

Crate covers retain heat in your dog’s crate, especially if they are thick. Remember that heat rises—when you cover the top of a crate, hot air will become trapped rather than moving up and out of the kennel.

This can be a good thing, as we discussed above. It can also be detrimental to your dog’s health and safety.

On hot days, it might be best to remove the crate cover or even set up a fan to keep the crate cool. Other options include cooling mats and KONG toys with frozen treats inside.

Keep your dog’s preferences and tolerance in mind as well. I personally have a dog who hates the heat and loves the cold! He’ll stay out all day long when it’s snowy but will only go out quickly to potty during the summer.

He also shows his preference by lying on hard surfaces when it’s hot instead of on plush, warm places like carpeting or furniture.

Brachycephalic breeds like Pugs or Shi Tzus are most prone to heatstroke and trouble breathing due to poor breeding. Long-haired dogs are also more susceptible.

However, high temperatures can cause heatstroke in all dogs, so it’s best to be careful regardless of your pup’s DNA.

3.     Destructive Chewers

If you have a destructive chewer, covering the crate may be a bad idea. Some crate covers have zips, ties, or fabric that can be grabbed from inside the kennel.

You don’t want your dog to destroy the cover or choke on small parts when you aren’t around. Eating significant amounts of fabric may lead to bowel obstructions that require surgery to remove.

4.     Some Dogs Dislike Covered Crates

Some dogs prefer to see outside of their crate and are bothered by the cover. If this is your pup, it may be better to forego the cover or purchase one with windows.

White and brown dog sitting
White and Brown Dog Sitting

So…Should You Cover Your Dog’s Crate?

There are so many factors when it comes to covering your dog’s crate that there’s no right or wrong answer. It depends on your environment, your dog’s personality and needs, and your own preferences.

A Chihuahua who struggles with anxiety and hates the cold will probably prefer a crate cover during their winter travels to the airport.

But a Pug who is crated in a hot, sunny room might prefer more airflow in their crate and want either a thin or very well-ventilated cover, paired with air conditioning or something else to cool them down.

A nervous dog who is always trying to look out of the crate likely won’t like feeling blocked off from the world around them and prefer no cover or one with several windows.

Of course, your dog’s preferences and needs should come first when choosing whether or not to use a crate cover—but you have input here, too.

If you feel strongly for or against crate covers, give your preference a try and see how your dog does with it!

Never Cover the Crate Completely

Even if the cover is thin, or you’ll only keep the crate covered for a few minutes, we don’t recommend fully covering the crate. There should always be some sort of ventilation, whether the cover has mesh windows or you leave one side of the crate uncovered.

A little hole isn’t enough for your dog to breathe out of—think about when you hid under the blankets as a child. Even with a bit of airflow, temperatures beneath the blanket rose with your body heat, and breathing became more uncomfortable until you finally had to come back out!

Your dog doesn’t have the choice to escape the crate, so it’s crucial that you make it a comfortable, safe place for them.

Observe Your Dog with the Crate Cover On

When first using a crate cover, observe your dog. See if they interact with the cover, if they seem to pant more than usual, or if they act unusually.

Ideally, they should behave as if the cover wasn’t there or have a short adjustment period where they get used to the change.

You might notice amazing signs, like your dog napping easier or sleeping in longer in the mornings. This means they’re relaxed and the cover is working as it should!

If your dog seems anxious, hot, or is struggling to breathe, take the crate cover off. You can either purchase a different one that’s more suitable for your dog or go without a cover altogether.

woman petting dog
Happy Dog and Smiling Woman

Don’t Use the Crate or Cover as Punishment

The biggest reason crates are so controversial is that some people use them improperly. Crates should never be used to punish your dog, and neither should crate covers!

Proper crate training establishes the crate as a safe space for your dog to relax. They shouldn’t feel anxious or upset while crated, but comfortable and secure.

By using the crate cover as punishment when your dog misbehaves or is upset about being in the crate, you make negative associations with the crate itself.

Some people may think, isn’t that the point of punishment? It may be, but it’s also been proven that punishment doesn’t work on dogs.

Your dog is never misbehaving to show dominance or annoy you. Most dogs will go out of their way to please their owners, but unclear training prevents them from knowing what you want.

Some dogs are incredibly independent and may think they know better if rules don’t make sense to them. This is typically because of their instincts, which were ingrained in them from thousands of years of breeding—and you’re unlikely to train this out completely through any method!

For instance, sighthound breeds were bred to hunt independently. They made their own calls when chasing prey and didn’t have time to wait for human direction.

So, keeping them as pets today means having extra patience and using positive reinforcement methods to teach them to behave.

Harsh training methods only serve to make your dog fearful and aggressive—neither of which we want! Positive reinforcement methods lead to confident, well-behaved dogs who have good relationships with their humans.

Crate Cover Options

Sheets and Blankets

Sheets or blankets are an easy, cheap method of covering your dog’s crate. They’re also a great way to test out crate covers before making a big purchase.

You can simply use an old sheet or thin blanket from around your home to cover two to three sides of the crate—never all four.

The drawbacks to sheets or blankets are that they look a little messier and don’t have the same features as a store-bought cover, such as windows, door panels, handles, or pockets.

The plus side is that they’re one-size-fits-all and can often be found for free around your home.

Store-Bought Covers

Store-bought covers usually look better in your home and offer more functionality since they were made specifically for crates.

You’ll need to check the dimensions of your crate before purchasing to make sure they’ll fit well. Also check for any extra features that are important to you, like mesh windows or pockets.

When traveling especially, pockets can be used to hold your dog’s items such as treats, leashes, and collars. Your dog should never be wearing a collar or any other accessory while in the crate, so it’s good to have someplace to tuck it away until they come back out.

Mesh windows come in many variations. They may be a permanent feature or zip up to block out more of your dog’s surroundings. These windows may have Velcro straps to hold the extra fabric in place and keep the window “open.”

You can find crate covers made specifically for wire crates, travel purposes, or that are insulated against the cold.