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How much is too much crate time?

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Crate Types

There are many kinds of crates - if you plan to use it for any length of time, get a good brand - the cheap ones are easy for dogs to break out of and they just don't hold up.  We personally use the metal and airline crates.  I would love a soft-sided crate, but their uses are just too limited for me.

Most dogs like the airline crates because they are very cave-like, but airline crates take up more room when stored, tend to lose the little nuts that hold them together (for this I love zip ties) and the doors still tend to rust.  They also don't hold up well if you have a very determined chewer.  We've had escape artists that could only be contained by an airline type crate. 

There are metal ones which are good for chewers and puppies.  They usually have a removable pan and either fold or use a drop pin to hold it together.   Repainting metal crates with lead free paint will extend the life of the crate. You can achieve the same cave-like effect with a metal crate by putting a blanket over it - though some Mals will work feverishly to pull the blanket inside.  I've had them pull it through so tightly you have to cut the blanket apart to get it out!  Many metal crates have dividers so that you can make it smaller for a young puppy, then remove the divider as the pup grows.  Some of the more expensive metal crates have "extra" doors making them easier to get dogs in and out of and extending the places you can put it and still open a door.

For a Malamute get the largest crate you can find, especially if they will be in it a long day while you are at work.  A minimum 500 size Vari Kennel for a girl, 600 for a boy.  (ones below use different sizing). Generally you want about 35" long x 27" high for a normal sized Malamute.  If you have a giant or a very active Malamute, a Great Dane sized crate is best.  We have one like that for Pod - she is just too busy to be contained by a smaller crate because she NEEDS to move around when in it.  The other girls seem content with a 500 Vari-Kennel size.

There are of course, other kinds of crates - custom wooden ones that cost a couple of thousand dollars, and even something new - crates that double as furniture (end tables) in wicker, metal and wood.  I'm getting one of those some day.  Alumaden makes a very stylish metal, wood topped crate - still only made for little dogs, but I'm hoping the they will make bigger ones some day! (a dining room table crate!)

Last of all there are the things you need for in the crate - toys come to mind!  Safe toys, a soft but not easily chewed dog bed, and perhaps a water bucket if the dog is to be crated for long periods. Always remove collars when the dog is in the crate for safety reasons (tags can get hung up and choke the dog). The crate is your dog's second home, make it safe and comfortable and he'll generally love hanging out in it!

Solid Steel Crate

Metal crates are easy to clean, hold up well to escape artists but really need something over them to feel cave-like.  This one is a nice combination of metal and plastic.  Ventilation is good for hot weather and most Malamutes would rather lie on the cool pan than on any bedding (which usually gets shredded).  Metal crates are difficult to find replacement parts for.  (Superman has gone through 3 metal crate doors and 1 airline door).

The Malamute Gear Steel Crate with Plush Pad in Lavender is constructed of heavy duty blow-molded plastic with steel inserts. Get the strength of steel and the look of blow-molded plastic. Rounded corners, no sharp edges, no scratching wood floors or snagging carpeted floors. Four doors: Top Door is molded plastic and can be used as a table or grooming area. End doors on both ends offer accessibility from any angle. Large side door opens like a garage door keeping the door up and out of the way when open. Another Metal Crate - I like this one because it opens from 2 sides.
Richell Two-Door Wire and Wood Crate and Tray Combo in Origami White The 2-Way Door Malamute Pen with Floor Tray has a specially designed tension lock for Malamute safety; optional wire top provides additional Malamute security (sold separately). The flip door panel for left or right-handed configuration provides quick and easy access. Pen includes floor tray to protect floor surfaces from scratching and accidents.

Soft-sided crate

Good for a non-chewing Malamute - not recommended for a chewer, dog aggressive mal or escape artist.  Excellent for portability becasue they are lightweight and fold for storage.  They do tend to get dirty and are more difficult to clean than a plastic or metal crate.  Dreamer has one in her van and it keeps the van from being hair-covered.  They are not allowed at AKC dog shows.

The Generation II Soft Crate is easy to assemble and conveniently folds flat for easy storage and relocation. The sturdy steel frame with four locking braces make this unit as strong as the leading wire crate. Three double coated mesh openings securely fasten with heavy number ten self healing zippers. Includes a soft fleece pad which keeps your Malamute comfortable and the crate bottom clean. 

Plastic Airline Crate

Plastic airline crates  are approved for travel on airlines. These are my favorites for most Malamutes.  They are cave-like, easy to clean, come apart and stack for easy storage. The little nuts that hold them together tend to get lost (for this I love zip ties) and the doors still tend to rust, but the best part is if they do get destroyed or rust out you can get replacements for about $10-15 so they last a long time. We've had escape artists that could only be contained by an airline type crate and other escape artists that got out of them immediately.  They can be too warm in summer though, so use where there is good ventilation.

Petmate Vari Dog Kennel, 28