the wildrose way: choosing the best crate size
11-03-163 mins read
Just in time for the wingshooting season, Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels gives his advice on how to choose the best crate size for your dog – and the best add-on accessories for your canine companion.
Pet Safety
Training Tips

Written by Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels • Photo by Overland Empire

Just in time for the wingshooting season, Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels gives his advice on how to choose the best crate size for your dog – and the best add-on accessories for your canine companion.

Last week, we discussed the first preparations when hitting the long road with your dogs. Today, we’re talking safety – which should be a top concern when travelling.


Where will the dog ride on the trip? A dog lounging on the back seat of a vehicle is a nice and convenient notion but one that could prove traumatic upon impact in a collision. Your canine friend may become a dangerous flying object: a danger to the driver, passengers and obviously, the dog.


Multiple-dog hauling likely will necessitate a trailer.  Here we opt for units with lockable doors, adding cushioned floor mats, cool air circulation (summer), insulated (winter) and a large fresh-water storage capacity.  The dog “holes” should be large enough for the dog to partially sit up, turn around and lie down comfortably.

The dog crate option offers great flexibility for storage and utilization. Our most important consideration is impact resistance should an accident occur. Here’s what to consider:

– Solid construction

– Strong door latch construction

– The insulation factor of the construction materials

– Attachments to secure the crate to the vehicle to prevent movement

Here, without question, GUNNER Kennels rules! It’s our choice in travel kennels at Wildrose.


When choosing crate size, here are the following factors to consider:

1. Where will the crate be when traveling? 
The rear of an open pick up presents no problem but when the kennel must fit under a small camper shell, in the RV, rear seat of a vehicle or the back of an SUV, size matters.  Make sure to make appropriate measurements before the purchase.  

2. Next, consider the size of the dog.  
The crate dimensions should allow room for the dog to turn around and lie down.  It is undesirable to have a crate too large that affords too much space.  In the unfortunate event of a vehicle accident, the appropriately-sized kennel affords protection.  Too large and the animal may be slammed about inside the crate’s interior causing injury. Click here to find your best GUNNER fit.


1. Insulated crate covers offer protection from wind, rain and snow when exposed to weather.  I look for covers that have heavy, durable zippers, handles to allow the crate to be secured and is waterproof. (EDITOR’S NOTE: like the Weather Kit).

2. Again, for extended travel a soft crate pad is a good idea to absorb some of the shock of road travel (EDITOR’S NOTE: like the Performance Pad). In summer, fans are available that attach to the crate door and can be plugged directly into the vehicle’s power source.  This is a great option for those who have their dog inside an enclosed vehicle, rear of an SUV, pickup camper shell, or RV.  Note: Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle in hot weather.

EDITOR’S NOTE: GUNNER always recommends securing your kennel to your vehicle with our 8′ Tie-Down Strap Kit, in the case of an accident.

Remember: Dogs conditioned from puppyhood to adopt their crates as a place of safety and relaxation love their kennels.  It becomes their cave of security.  Never use a crate as a means of punishment and avoid allowing anything to occur that would make the pup/dog uncomfortable or fearful of a crate.  It’s a happy place.

To all our destination wingshooters and adventurers, we wish you safe journeys as you live your passion.

About Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels

Mike Stewart

With forty years of association with dogs, pointers, flushers, retrievers, as well as hounds and obedience companion dogs Mike Stewart developed the Wildrose facilities creating a comprehensive gundog-training program focused exclusively on the English Labrador, specifically for the wingshooter and outdoor enthusiasts. He developed the unique, positive, training methodology, “The Wildrose Way,” which is being recognized across the country. Over the past nine years, he has appeared in a variety of television programming featuring retriever training including “The World of Ducks,” with Drake and Deke, the Ducks Unlimited mascots, ” Benelli’s American Bird Hunter,” The American Sportsman,” and other sporting programs. He has produced a series of best-selling DVDs, for hunting dog training, “The Gentleman’s Gundog” series. Mike retired as Chief of Police, University of Mississippi in 2000 after a 25-year career in law enforcement, a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a BPA and MCJ, as well as the FBI National Academy in 1989. He retired from the US Navy Reserves as a Commander in 2005 with nine years as a NCIS credentialed agent.

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