12 Things You Can Use Instead of a Dog Crate
Alex Vicente • Updated on August 18, 2023
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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Whether you just got a new puppy or you are still in the process of training your older dog, dog crates can be a convenient help to keep your dog from destroying your favorite pair of shoes or knocking over the plants in your living room when you are not there to supervise them. However, dog crates are not the only strategy you can use for this.
The reality is that not every dog owner feels comfortable leaving their dog locked in a crate all day while they are gone. Perhaps it is for sentimental reasons or maybe your dog just suffers from anxiety from being in a cage all day. Whatever your reason may be, you will not have to worry about leaving your dog in a crate when you consider the alternatives. Read on to learn about 12 things you can use instead of a dog crate.
Table of Contents
Why Use a Dog Crate Alternative?
There is no shortage of alternatives for dog crates. It is understandable to not want to keep your dog locked up in a cage all day while you are gone, but luckily with the alternatives mentioned in this article, you will not have to. There is an alternative out there to fit your needs and your budget.
If you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of person then you should consider a fenced yard, dog gate, exercise pen, or training and giving your dog constant supervision. If you prefer the help of others, consider hiring a pet sitter or taking your dog to a dog daycare. If all else fails, you could always try taking your dog to work with you.
Whichever choice you decide to go with, make sure to train and incentivize your dog to behave well so that you can slowly start to remove all these barriers and show your dog that you trust them to behave when they are alone. Remember that each option has its pros and cons and that it is up to you and your furry friend to make one work!
A Well Trained Dog Will Not Need a Crate
If your dog is fully trained then you will not have to keep them in a crate. This strategy will obviously take some time to implement, and it will not be an immediate solution to your situation, but it is the best option for the long term. Training a puppy can be difficult at first, but if you are going to purchase or adopt one, you should make sure you have the time and patience to take care of them and supervise them in their early stages.
One of the best and most efficient ways to train your dog is through positive reinforcement. Your best bet is to use vocal cues to get your dog to obey your order and then reward them when they have complied. Positive reinforcements include:
- A delicious treat
- A comforting belly rub
- Warm praise
These positive reinforcement techniques let your dog know that they know that listening to your order will likely result in a treat in the future. Eventually, your dog will obey you naturally.
You will also want to use a similar strategy when you notice patterns in the bad things your dog does. Negative reinforcement directly after your dog misbehaves will help them understand that what they are doing is wrong. After some time and practice, you will start to feel more confident leaving your dog free and unsupervised in your home.
Regardless of what alternative you choose to use over a dog crate, training them will eventually have to be part of the program. Your best bet is to start training them early so even if you choose another alternative for an immediate solution, your training will allow you to slowly remove the other alternative and rely on your dog behaving well.
Use a Dog Gate Instead of a Dog Crate
Rather than locking your dog in a small crate, you can use a dog gate to serve the same purpose of confining your dog while also giving them more room to walk around and feel free. You can use these gates to create a barrier around a particular room in your home that you deem dog-friendly and safe for your dog to roam around unsupervised.
You will want to make sure that these gates are tall enough where your dog will not jump over the gate and into another room. Factor in your dog’s height, weight, breed, and age when choosing an appropriate gate.
Another thing to focus on is to fixate the gate to the walls so that you avoid a situation where your dog rams into the gate and breaks it off of its hinges. Dog gates are typically easy to install.
- Cardinal Gates Stairway Angle Baby Gate
- Carlson Extra Wide Walk Through Pet Gate with Small Pet Door
- Regalo Easy Step 38.5-Inch Extra Wide Walk Thru Baby Gate
The list above shows some of the top dog gates on the market.
Depending on your situation, you may have to buy more than one gate, but luckily most of these are affordable. You will want to make sure to measure the distance between the walls you intend on putting the gate on before your purchase it.
You may find that some of these gates are marketed as baby gates, but they serve the same purpose for dogs. The dog gate option is one of the more affordable and quick solutions to your dog crate problem so it should be one of your top considerations early on. You will also want to puppy-proof the room you choose.
Outdoor and Indoor Kennels
While not the most ideal alternative if your concern is that you do not want to leave your dog in a cage all day, a kennel does offer you a bigger cage alternative to a dog crate. With an outdoor kennel, you will want to make sure that you put the outdoor kennel in a well-shaded area and that you fill it with all of your dog’s needs.
Outdoor kennels can serve as a helpful house training tool as well as one that will keep your dog safe while you are out of the house. It is spacious enough to fit toys as well as a bowl for food and water. Although it is similar to a dog crate, many dogs do respond better to the kennel because of the extra space kennels can offer.
The kennels listed above are some of the top-rated options on Amazon and are ideal choices for dog owners with large backyards. If you have concerns over the amount of shade your dog will get in a kennel, several of these options have you covered. You can think of an outdoor dog kennel as your dog’s personal dog park!
The dog kennel is the closest alternative to a dog crate on this list. If you want all the same benefits that a dog crate may bring your dog, but without having to lock them up into a small area, an outdoor or indoor dog kennel might be the best choice for you.
Exercise Pens Give Dogs More Space
An exercise pen is somewhat similar to a dog crate but is more spacious and it is open at the top so it does not give your dog the feeling that it is locked in a cage. Exercise pens can be thought of as playpens for your dog. You can fill the pen up with your dog’s favorite toys and let them enjoy themselves in it.
Exercise pens can be conveniently moved around the house and are easy to store away without taking too much space in your storage room or garage. Your best bet is to put the exercise pen in a non-carpeted area in the house so that your dog will not damage it while running around in the pen.
An exercise pen is a great alternative for someone with several untrained dogs because it gives them enough room to roam around and play. Many dog owners use exercise pens when their dog gives birth to new puppies. The pen will allow you to account for all the puppies, making sure one of them does not sneak around other parts of your home.
- MidWest Homes for Pets Folding Metal Exercise Pen
- IRIS USA Exercise Pet Playpen with Door
- IRIS USA Panel Pet Playpen
The list above shows some of the top options for exercise pens available. They are very affordable. Some of these pens are tailored for smaller dogs and puppies, while others can work for both big and small dogs. Make sure to pay close attention to the dimensions and size of your pen relative to the dog you intend to put in it.
Create a Special Dog-Friendly Room
The next option is for the dog owners that have a little bit of room to spare in their home. If you have a room that you do not intend to use for anything, you can consider making it a room for your dog. For safety reasons, you should:
- Remove carpet from the room
- Keep all fragile items out of the room
- Ensure no hazardous material is in the room
Set the room up with your dog’s favorite toys, their food and water bowl, and make sure the room is well ventilated and has enough sun coming through the windows. With this alternative, you can simply lock your dog in the room while you go away and they can relax and keep themselves entertained while you are gone.
Invest in furniture that has sturdy and durable material in case your dog attempts to damage it. You may also want to consider protective furniture covers just to give your furniture another line of defense. Untrained dogs can become restless when they are bored, so make sure to add things to the room that will keep them active.
Add a pet bed as well to give them a comfortable place to rest should they feel tired. It may take a bit of training to get your dog to want to sleep on its pet bed but it is worth the time and effort if you want to keep your dog off your furniture. Some dogs also like noise because it makes them feel accompanied, so consider leaving a TV or radio on.
Leave Activities for Your Dog
This alternative plays in well with some of the previous alternatives we have discussed so far. One way to prevent your dog from lashing out and causing a ruckus in your home is to keep them entertained while you are gone. It may take you some time to get this alternative right, but once you do, it can be an ideal solution for you and your dog.
Figure out what your dog enjoys doing or what it is that keeps them calm and engaged throughout the day. Believe it or not, some dogs are happy just to lay down with their favorite toy and watch a movie on TV. Other dogs are happy just to hear the sound of someone else’s voice or perhaps some music. When this is the case, consider setting your dog up with one of the following:
- A cheap television
- A cheap stereo or radio
There is some kind of activity for your dog out there and with a little bit of trial and error, you will be able to figure out what gets your dog going. As long as their mind is occupied, you can go about your day a little bit calmer knowing they are less likely to get bored and destroy your newly bought furniture.
With this alternative, you will also want to make sure that you confine your dog into a smaller area so that they will not become easily distracted. Consider investing in safe toys including some that have treats built into them so that they can smell the treat and stay engaged with the toy for longer periods of time.
Hire a Dog Sitter
A dog sitter can be a good alternative for several reasons. It might be one of the more expensive options, but a dog sitter can also help you train your dog while keeping them company. A dog sitter will likely give you the best peace of mind when you are leaving your dog at home because you will not need to lock them up and they are not alone.
A dog sitter does not necessarily need to be a great dog trainer, but having one around can help you make sure your dog stays active and does not get bored or sad all day while you are gone. Dog sitters solve the dog walking issue as well as letting them out when they need to do their business in the yard.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety or just does not like to be alone, a dog sitter might be the most practical and affordable option to go with. You can hire a neighbor or a friend to help you do the job or you can go on one of several websites or apps where you can find dog sitters, trainers, and walkers for hire.
- Host A Pet
The websites above offer solutions to all your pet care needs. Even if you do not need a full pet sitter, you can still hire someone to walk your dog or check-in when you are gone the whole day. You could also go on Craigslist or look around social media discussion groups to look for qualified people in your area who can take on the role.
Consider Using a Doggy Daycare
Just as you would with a child, a daycare might be a great place to drop your dog off before you go to work. As effective as this alternative may be, many people shy away from it because it can end up being an expensive solution to your dog crate problem. However, if you do not mind the added expense, a daycare can be very beneficial!
Despite it being an expensive option, you can get a lot done with a dog daycare. At a dog daycare, your dog can improve its socialization skills as it plays along with other people and dogs. This alternative is also good for helping dogs overcome separation anxiety and boredom. You will also have peace of mind knowing they are safe.
One of the only caveats of the dog daycare option is that your dog may become accustomed to having people and other dogs around them all day and this may be an issue initially after you take them out of daycare. If you can overcome this challenge, then the benefits of dog daycare will pay dividends going forward.
Although an expensive option, you can choose to pull your dog out of daycare at your earliest convenience, and the faster they are trained at daycare, the quicker you will be able to leave them at home and have confidence that they will behave better. Consider dog daycare if you have a little bit of extra money to throw around on your dog.
Use a Fenced Gate Outside
This is a great alternative for dogs that love to be outside. You will want to pair your fenced gate with a doggy door so that your dog can go in and out of the house at their convenience. However, this alternative does come with its challenges. Make sure to consider some of the following variable factors before putting this plan into action.
- Size of fencing
- Your dog’s personality
- How long you intend to be gone
If you do not have a doggy door and choose to just leave your dog outside while you are gone, make sure you factor in the weather. Dogs can overheat and become dehydrated rather quickly if they are running around and laying under severe heat. Do not use this option if you are gone for long hours and your dog does not have a way to get inside.
The size of your fencing is important as well because your dog may grow curious as to what is on the other side of the fence causing them to jump over or dig their way under the barrier. If you know your dog to be a trustworthy and obedient dog, you may not have to worry about this, but either way, you should make sure your fencing is secure.
Regardless of whether you are using a fenced gate as a dog crate alternative or not, you should still consider getting your gate fenced to offer added protection for your dog. With a fenced gate, you can protect your dog from getting out while preventing other animals from getting in. Consider pairing a fenced gate with one of the other options.
You Can Use Surveillance Apps
There is no denying the impact that technology has had on the way people watch over their pets. With surveillance apps, you can watch over your dog and make sure they are behaving all through the comfort of your own phone. This alternative works best when paired with one of the previous alternatives.
Surveillance apps work in tandem with a camera and speaker system that you can purchase separately. If your dog responds to your voice, you can speak to them and let them know you are watching them even though you are not home. This can help you control any potential damage or situations where your dog is misbehaving.
- Pet Monitor VIGI
- Dog Monitor
- Pet Cam by Annie
The apps listed above are some of the top-rated apps for both Android and iOS users. Aside from being able to watch over your pets, these apps can also serve as personal home security systems as well. Many users also use these apps to help their dogs deal with their separation anxiety by speaking to their dogs through a microphone.
These surveillance apps show their worth when paired with other dog crate alternatives like the exercise pen, dog gate, and dog-friendly rooms because although those options are effective, they can also fail at any time. Having surveillance can help dog owners with damage control should their dogs start misbehaving.
Take Your Dog to Work Some Days
This may be the most difficult alternative on the list to pull off because not all jobs will allow you to do it. If you are willing to try this, it does not hurt to ask your higher-ups if it is an option. However, there are several challenges that come with taking your dog to work and there are reasons why people avoid this alternative even when it is allowed.
If you are going to take your dog to work, you will need to make sure that they are potty trained so that you can avoid unwanted accidents from happening at the work. This alternative may work best for dogs that are trained but act out when they are separate from their owner. If your dog can behave while you work, it might be worth a shot.
Even if this strategy has its pros, you might find it difficult to focus on your work while your dog is with you. Despite its challenges, there is no denying the effectiveness of this alternative option. Your dog can not bother your neighbors or destroy your living room if they are not at home, to begin with.
Consider this as your last resort option. The practicality of this option also depends on where you work. If you work at a restaurant or medical center, you likely will not be able to pull this off, but if you work somewhere a bit more casual, it may not be the worst alternative to consider.
Keep Your Dog under Constant Supervision
This is the simplest and most effective alternative, but one that is likely very difficult to pull off unless you work from home or take your dog everywhere that you go. If you are fortunate enough to do remote work, this alternative might be ideal for you as it will allow you to constantly keep tabs on your dog and make sure they are behaving.
You could somewhat compare this alternative to maternity leave when a baby is born. Constantly being around will allow you to spend sufficient time with your dog and give you the opportunity to train them to behave when that day where you no longer work from home comes around. You can still pair this alternative with other options.
Constant supervision also does not mean that you need to physically be with your dog at all hours. Using surveillance apps like the ones mentioned earlier in the article can help you keep tabs on your puppy even when you need to step out of the house for something. Make sure to give your dog their own space as well.
This alternative will never be 100 percent possible because at some point, you will have to step out of your house and you may not always have the option to take your dog with you. You can make this a combined effort with a dog watcher, neighbors, or other members of your family.