Whether you’re travelling by air, land, or sea, every dog owner knows that holidays are simply made better by their cute canine companions. Just like their human parents though, pups deserve the utmost level of safety in any mode of transport, and a crate is the best place to start. Solid, sheltered, and characteristically secure, these dens of zen are the perfect way to keep your pooch protected in the car, offering a number of benefits for every party involved. If they’re a fan of long-distance outings, you’re likely to know the hassle of trying to convince them to sit (especially when wanting to enjoy the ride) and, while you may want to take your furry friend to locations further afield, we understand that it can be a stressful experience.
It is, with this in mind, that we have created this article, covering everything you need to know before taking a trip with your hound. Offering tips, tricks and advice on how to keep them cool, calm and collected in any moving vehicle, we’ve tailored this guide to suit every buyer and budget (and breed, for that matter!). Providing you with extra advice and support (plus a few recommendations along the way, of course), we hope to support you on this voyage of discovery. Our online shelves are simply brimming with products to leave every tail wagging so, what are you waiting for? Sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey ahead… you’ve reached your doggy destination!
What is a dog travel crate?
Before we delve into the world of travel crates, let’s first talk definitions. Put simply, these ergonomic cages (usually constructed from metal, wire, plastic and fabric) are enclosures in which a dog may be kept for means of security, training or, in this case, transportation. They’re fundamentally designed to replicate a pup’s natural den and can provide them with a place of refuge at home or when travelling to new surroundings, which can be a tense excursion. For a further touch of class and sophistication, covers are also occasionally added to enhance the overall appearance.
While many owners opt to let their pooch have free reign in the car, this can be very dangerous, and may even lead to accidents or injuries when driving. As much as we’d all love to let our canines co-pilot, with the chances of them climbing onto our laps or nudging us for attention while we’re concentrating on the road, it’s simply not worth the risk, so a travel crate really is a must if extensive exploration is their preference.
Things to consider before purchasing your canine companion
Prior to making any pup-related purchase, it’s important to consider the following factors to ensure your pooch is well-suited to the product. Browse the list below to determine which points are most relevant to you and your canine companion:
- Size: Any travel crate should be big enough for your dog to sit, stand and turn around in, but small enough to keep them secure. Generally speaking, they shouldn’t be more than six inches longer than your pup and, as with many other aspects of measuring, the weight matters far less than the height and length combined. A 13kg canine can be shorter than their 9kg comrade, depending on breed and age (for instance). Be sure that each animal has their own crate, too. Unless you’re transporting very small puppies or a tiny litter, you should never allow multiple dogs to share their cage, due to space limitations and increased stress.
- Safety: However you plan to travel, this should be a major concern. A sturdy model will enclose your pooch securely and protect them from many potential accidents. Both plastic and wire examples should have a liner, bed, or even blanket along the bottom to prevent any sliding or pain when standing or sitting on the base.
- Setup: Whichever cage you choose, it’s worth thinking about ease of assembly, storage and use. Most come with foldable features as standard, but it’s worth checking before purchasing.
- Situation: Some crates work best for car travel, while others are specifically designed for carrying or lighter transportation purposes.
- Material: If you’ll be removing a crate from your vehicle regularly, a wire model may be the best choice. As these can fold inwards and collapse easily for storage, it’s super simple and straightforward to remove them from a car. They can also be tied down with cords, securing them safely in place. On the other hand, if your cage is likely to remain inside, a solid plastic-sided crate might be more appropriate. These come with spots to tie them down, and the durable, long-lasting structure offers a tranquil and relaxed overall feel.
OnBuy’s top six dog travel crates for cars
Now that we’ve established the basics, let’s delve straight into OnBuy’s selection of the top six doggy travel crates on offer. From affordable fabric models that make brilliant all-round accessories to thicker wire alternatives that are great for toilet training, our hand-picked assortment is sure to appeal to every buyer and breed.
Pros: Available in a range of handy sizes, practical plastic food and water bowl included
Cons: Plastic exterior may not be to everyone’s taste, enclosed design may make dogs feel trapped
This most compact of travel dog crates is perfect for anyone looking for a convenient and multifunctional carrier. Providing your pet with extra safety on long and short journeys combined, this cage can be opened into a range of various positions (both outwards and removed completely), offering you the benefit of flexibility when encouraging your pooch in or out of the enclosure. Complete with two large storage compartments for extra space and treats, it’s perfect for every pup.
Unlike any other models on our list, the Gulliver also comes with a plastic food and water bowl (easily attached to the bars at the front), which is great for trips further afield, or when pit stops aren’t always possible. The grilled windows of the three largest sizes are equipped with extra horizontal bars, helping your pooch to feel even more content and safe in their surroundings.
In terms of sizing, the minimum dimensions available (72 x 52 x 51cm) are best suited to smaller breeds, like Beagles, Cocker Spaniels and West Highland Terriers, whereas the largest on offer (104 x 73 x 75cm) are mostly intended for Dalmatians, Labradors and Retrievers. These dimensions are worth bearing in mind when choosing your collapsible companion.
Regrettably, some may find the wholly plastic exterior to be somewhat off-putting if more minimalist, metal-constructed crates are your preference. The fully enclosed design might also make more nervous dogs feel more claustrophobic and confined.
Pros: Available in a variety of striking colours, easily attached to most front and back car seats
Cons: Only suitable for smaller dogs, fabric material makes it harder to clean
Nicknamed by us as the ‘fabulous folding phenomenon’, this car seat side bag is unlike any other option on our list. Fashioned from a resilient and durable Oxford fabric, with abrasion resistance and anti-tearing technology, it’s the perfect crate for the more excitable and playful pups. Ultimately preventing damage to your car seats, with a handy zip pocket design for ease of use and transportation, it’s the convenient collapsible cage you didn’t know you needed!
The extra padded bottom removes any need for blankets or additional cushioning (a huge bonus if budget is a concern), and the built-in safety strap, which simply attaches to a harness or collar, provides an unmatched degree of protection in a moving vehicle. Integral adjustable back cords are further secured to the seat itself, making the crate itself all the more stable and firm.
Unfortunately however, the smaller size (measuring a miniscule 42 x 42 x 25cm) means that this travel companion is only suitable for lighter and more petite canines. The fabric material also makes it harder to clean, should any disastrous accidents occur.
Pros: Heavy-duty hook door latches, zinc-coated to protect against erosion, two door entry
Cons: Plastic tray may be prone to chewing, requires additional mat for extra comfort
Perhaps the most traditional-looking of dog car crates, this collapsible model is the perfect accessory for puppies on the move. A safe space in which your canine can relax (measuring 64 x 48 x 54cm), the practical mesh, zinc-coated exterior is protected from little teeth, rust and erosion alike. What’s more, the two door entry (with strong and long-lasting hook door latches) offers maximum flexibility for you and your pooch, opening from the front and the side for ultimate adaptability.
Not only great for travel but also fantastically convenient when used as a training aid, this crate is particularly functional, with a carry handle and collapsible material for easier storage and transportation. The integrated base is constructed from an easy-to-clean plastic, which can be handily removed should any spillages or accidents occur.
From a negative perspective, the cage is not the most suitable for excitable or overly enthusiastic dogs, as the malleable base (though simply removed and washed) can be prone to chewing on the edges. It may also require a mat or blankets and pillows for additional comfort, as younger puppies or smaller pooches may find the hard material rather rigid.
Pros: Suitable for many car boots, aluminium and MDF material is durable and easy to maintain
Cons: On the more expensive side, tray requires extra bedding and accessories for comfort
Suitable for a wide variety of breeds, owners and vehicles, this model is one of the best dog cages for cars currently on the market. Generously-sized and trapezoidal in shape, this model by vidaXL measures 94 x 98 x 69cm, allowing your pup plenty of alone time in the peace and quiet. Constructed from secure, strong and sturdy MDF, bolstered by a durable aluminium core, this carrier is suitable for even the most boisterous of pups. It also boasts plastic corner connections to prevent any injury to your furry friend. Best of all, the innovative lattice design ensures your dog can keep an eye on its surroundings, without ever feeling trapped or claustrophobic.
The double door function makes getting in and out incredibly easy and stress-free. The crate is lightweight, always simple to transport and benefits from a quick assembly time (a massive bonus if time is a concern). Ideal for keen travellers and avid adventurers alike, this robust carrier can be conveniently placed in many-sized car boots, thanks to its unique slanted shape.
On the downside, however, it’s slightly more on the expensive side, so may not be the most appropriate option if price is your main determinant. The base tray will also require extra padding and bedding, as its metal surface may be deemed uncomfortable by certain breeds.
Pros: Lightweight, soft and comfortable base, multiple pockets with zipped openings for storage
Cons: Darker colours may not be to everyone’s taste, mesh sides not suitable for excitable pups
Measuring 50 x 35 x 35cm in the smallest size available, the Bunty Fabric Bag is the perfect travelling companion for any fun-loving pup. One of the cheapest examples in our top six selection, it comes with a variety of handy features as standard, including transparent windows (for checking on your pet), two practical pockets (for storing extra items), and multiple zipped openings (for easy access to your pooch). With it’s padded and comfortable base, you’ll never have to worry about extra cushioning or lining again… your hound is sure to feel safe, snuggly and secure within this haven of paradise, while never compromising on ventilation.
The little openings allow your pet to see and take in their surroundings, without ever feeling stressed or trapped on the road. The Bunty’s lightweight design is also a huge bonus if carrying your pup is a necessity (for smaller breeds and younger ages especially). Showcasing two heavy-duty handles, it’ll never make your precious companion feel unbalanced or dizzy when lifted.
On a negative note, the darker colours may not be to everyone’s taste, as they may not blend with the interior décor of your home. The mesh-panelled sides may also present a problem for the more excitable pooches, as they can be easily torn and damaged.
Pros: Flexible fabric construction, able to fold completely flat, removable punch on the side
Cons: Only suitable for smaller dogs as no other sizes available, sides are less robust than metal
This classy, sophisticated, and charming foldable carrier is the stuff doggy dreams were made on. Boasting minimalist colours and a flexible fabric construction, it’s the practical and pretty accessory you didn’t know you needed. Able to be folded completely flat when not in use, it also saves massively on storage space – great if space is limited in your home.
Allowing sufficient air and light into the crate is never an issue with this nylon phenomenon, as the two large windows and doors provide plenty of revitalising ventilation through the mesh panelling. The soft carpet inside removes any need for extra padding or comforting embellishments, keeping you safe in the knowledge that your pup is safe and well taken care of. With two straps for easy carrying, a handy removable pouch, and extra storage compartment for cheeky treats and poo bags, it’s the multi-faceted model that really delivers on space.
On the flip side though, there are some downsides to this carrier. Regrettably, its smaller size (measuring 62 x 42 x 44cm) means that only smaller dogs are catered for. In a similar vein to the Bunty example shown above, this crate also possesses sides that are less robust than metal or plastic alternatives, which can be easily ripped or torn whilst travelling.
Closing the cage
We hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into all things doggy and domestic. If you’re in need of some more information, or simply require advice on pet-related problems, why not check out our fantastic blog and buyer’s guide resources? Not only educational, but also instructive and enlightening, these handy articles offer plenty of suggestions on best to house your pooch. Whether it’s guidance you need on the finest dog houses, crates and kennels available, or more specific intelligence on the most premium carriers out there, we’ve truly got you (and your pampered pup) covered… literally!
Of course, the right crate for your pup really depends on you and your canine companion. If you’re looking to introduce your dog to a crate for the first time, be sure to ease them in slowly and provide lots of treats as positive reinforcement. Before heading off on your first outing, leave the crate open in a busy area of your house, such as the living room or kitchen. Place a trail of treats around the outside of the crate, leading to the inside, to encourage your pooch to enter and leave at their leisure. Use voice commands to train your dog to approach and enter the crate, and don’t forget to reward them with treats and attention after! Once they seem comfortable inside the crate, you can practice longer crating periods, closing the door for short periods of time at first, and then increasing the duration slowly. This may take several days or even weeks, but it should stop your precious pooch from getting stressed during journeys, so it’s definitely worthwhile. Look for signs of stress or anxiety during the introductory period (such as whining or panting), and adapt your training to prevent this. After all, you want this to be a positive experience for you both. When they’re fully settled in and happy in their crate, you can let the adventures begin - Tintin and Snowy will have nothing on you and your pup!
Please note: the information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change