When were dog crates invented?

Crating dogs goes as far back as the late 1700s when the rulers of the late Qing dynasty (1644–1911) kept dogs for hunting and companionship. Elaborate, ornate crates were made for companion dogs such as the Pekingese. A cherished companion among the court’s women, these dogs were believed to reside in pavilions featuring marble floors, rest on silk cushions, and don elegant silk brocade ensembles.

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw the use of terrier crates (or kennel cages). These crates were used for practical and functional purposes. Terriers were primarily used for hunting and vermin control and would be crated during travel and whilst not working.

During this time, the use of crates was not as widespread or sophisticated as it is today, and the concept of using crates for training and containment was still evolving.

Crates for Travel

Around the turn of the last century (1900) a soft dog bag was sold as a ‘snuggery’ for small companion dogs, probably the first ever soft sided pet carrier.

Since the first commercial flight in 1914, airlines began to take animals in the hold. Up until the 1960s these were wooden or plywood boxes with chicken wire mesh and industrial hinges and latches.

In the late 1960s the owner of Petmate started mass producing these wooden boxes for airline travel and called them the sky kennel.

He continued until the 70s when he switched to producing a tough, fibreglass crate with steel nuts and bolts and a gated door. These could only be bought via the airlines themselves at the time.

Petmate switched from fibreglass to injection moulded plastic during the 1980s with crates that look very similar to the design we still have today.

During the 1960s and 70s aluminum travel crates were also designed and built by Bob Mckee and these, now vintage dog crates are highly sought after.

In 2008, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) introduced stricter guidelines for the design and production of pet crates. These regulations aimed to prevent pets from escaping and ensure their safety during air travel in the cargo section of airplanes. Clear and comprehensive rules for global pet travel were established, empowering pet owners with greater knowledge on ensuring the safety and compliance of their furry companions when flying with an airline.

Crates For Shows

From the first ever formally recognized dog show in 1859 (Newcastle, UK), and soon after in the US in 1877 (sponsored by the Westminster Kennel Club), owners have used crates to contain their dogs when not in the ring to keep them in pristine condition.

The American Kennel Club gives the following guidelines in terms of sizes for the crates used between showing. These sizes will be different from the usual advice regarding the ability to stand up, turn around, and lie down and they state specifically that the same travel crates that transported the dogs must not be used and are not acceptable.

Dog Breeds and Sizes

Dog Breeds and Sizes

Very Small – under 15 lbs. i.e. – Toy breeds 22″ x 18″ x 18″
Small Dogs – 15 to 35 lbs. i.e. – Terriers, Cocker Spaniels 30″ x 24″ x 36″
Medium Dogs – 35 to 60 lbs. i.e. – Dalmatians, Springer Spaniels 48″ x 48″ x 36″
Large Dogs – 60 to 100 lbs. i.e. – Golden Retriever, German Shepherd 60″ x 60″ x 48″
Extra Large Dogs – 100+ lbs. i.e. – Great Danes, Wolfhounds 72″ x 72″ x 60″

Crates For Training

More modern training use of the dog crate is more difficult to pin down.

The earliest mention of crate use as a training method was in Milo Pearsall’s 1958 book Dog Obedience Training (republished in 1979).

Although it had been billed as a book that revolutionized dog training with a more gentle approach many of Pearsall’s training methods were the same negative reinforcement techniques described four years earlier by Blanche Saunders. For example, Pearsall used jerking on the leash as a correction in teaching a heel, to get the dog to sit, and to improve attentiveness, which is now considered an unacceptable way to train in modern methods.

More recently, Ian Dunbar calls crate training a “wonderful training tool” but warns about the misuse and abuse of them.

Karen Pryor supports the use of crates saying “Crate training done properly is also a highly effective management system that can be a lifesaver for dog owners.”

Victoria Stillwell considers a crate a positive training method saying “Used correctly, a crate becomes a favorite place for sleeping and/or quiet time”.

When were dog crates Invented?

Rather than an invention, dog crates have evolved from their early, more ornate use, to a practical travel and containment item to the training and den-like crate we know today.

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All articles on tetradog.com are written by qualified behaviorist and dog trainer, Cheryl Walker.


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