Gear Tip: Crate Flooring & Water

Crates or portable kennels provide safe, secure transportation for your dog while traveling in cars, trucks or SUVs. They're the best way to keep them contained and provide a small measure of protection in case of an accident.

Dogs love 'em too! Used properly (not as a punishment), they become a safe haven/den for your dogs (especially true if you crate train when teaching house breaking). Throw a blanket, straw, wood chips or a specially made kennel pad in the bottom of the crate and the hard bottom is a little more comfortable. Dogs can also nest in the insulating stuff and keep warm. You can increase the insulation factor by purchasing a kennel jacket that blocks out wind and helps hold body heat in. You should really consider one of these if your dog rides in the back of a pickup.

All that's great, but there is a problem with crates. If you put a wet dog in them, runoff can collect in the bottom of the container causing your hunting buddy to sit in a puddle of water. I've had this problem at tests, training days and after hunting. There are two fixes for this:

First, you can drill holes in the bottom of the crate so runoff can drain out. That works pretty well, but any insulating debris you put in the crate will likely clog the holes and/or fall out as you move the crate around.

Second, you can purchase or find some grease mats. These are used in commercial kitchens to keep workers from slipping on wet or greasy floors. The soft rubber construction is fairly supportive and comfortable for your dog to lay on, but more importantly, it raises them up off the floor of the crate about half an inch. The holes in the mat allow water to drain and collect on the floor while keeping pup out of it.

You can usually find them in 3-foot by 3-foot interlocking sections. Just buy one section and cut it with a handsaw to fit the floor of your dog's crate. You'll most likely have enough left over for another crate or to save and use as a replacement mat. It's likely you'll never need to use it though; these things are durable and probably won't wear out.