Best Humane Dog Traps

Trapping with a humane cage trap is one of the most effective methods for catching a skittish or fearful lost or stray dog.  However, it is very important to select the right dog trap and set it up, bait it, and monitor it properly.  The wrong trap may injure your dog or allow them to escape, and once they have had a bad experience with a trap, they will be much more difficult to trap again.   Below are a few of the best designed dog traps as well as one more affordable trap that still works well.  These traps fit most dogs from small to large sizes.  However, if you are trying to trap a tiny dog (less than 10 lbs), you may want to see the article on Best Humane Cat Traps.

First a few important tips on selecting a humane dog trap

  • Most important: make sure that the trap you select is big enough!  Your dog’s entire body should fit inside the trap before they step on the trip plate (i.e. the trigger that closes the door).  If the trap is too small, the trap door may close on your dog’s back end and allow them to escape.  Some dogs will stretch their body out to try and reach the bait without fully entering the trap, so longer traps are generally better.  
  • Pick a dog trap made of quality materials.  It may be tempting to buy a cheap trap, but these are more likely to bend or break.  Dogs have been known to break out of cage traps occasionally.  Expect to pay $160-400 or more for a decent trap.  I do not recommend some of the really cheap traps on Amazon.com or those often sold at discount hardware stores like Tractor Supply Co.
  • Not a necessity, but a sliding rear release door makes baiting the trap and releasing wildlife so much easier.  However, I do not recommend traps with two trap doors. 

Tru Catch Large Animal Traps

Tru Catch offers a selection of quality made traps for small to extra-large dogs.  Their unique design includes a quiet gravity door, an extra-large trip plate, and a variable trigger.  These traps have a large trip plate set far back from the entrance, which increases capture rates.  Typical small trip plates may allow the dog to eat the bait and not set off the trap.  The variable trigger mechanism can be set for either light or heavy dogs.  All traps come with a sliding rear door except the 48F Folding Trap, which has a hinged rear door.  A rear door makes adding bait easy and allows easy release of wildlife.  Wildlife can also be released through the front door using the automatic door release mechanism; if you roll the trap upside down with your foot, the front door will automatically open.  (This method is not recommended for releasing skunks!)

Tru Catch 48F Folding Dog Trap

Pros


  • Dogs are more likely to enter the larger entrance (20”x28” compared to 17”x26” for Tractor Supply dog trap).
  • Trap door does not take up any space inside the trap, which allows larger dogs to fit.
  • Trip plate is located farther back in the trap so the dog is more likely to be fully inside the trap before the door shuts.
  • Extra-large trip plate prevents dogs from stepping over the trip plate to get at bait.  Results in more captures.
  • Unique gravity door with O-rings shuts quietly and is less likely to scare your dog.
  • Trigger can be set for light or heavy dogs.
  • Easy to add bait using rear door.
  • Easy to release wildlife using rear door or automatic door release.
  • 48F Model folds down flat for easy transport.
  • Made of high-quality materials and built to last.

Cons


  • Generally not available in stores and must be ordered online.
  • Traps are often in high demand and may be on backorder for up to 2-8 weeks.
  • Shipping costs may be very high, except the 48F Folding Trap, which offers free shipping to the lower 48 states.
  • Front door can open accidentally if trap is rolled upside down.  This can be prevented by proper securing of trap using cable lock.
  • Trigger setting mechanism can be slippery (trap will set off too easily) and may need some (easy) modification to work correctly.
  • No spring mechanism so trap door shuts more slowly.  Door may bounce open before fully closing, allowing dog to escape - more likely in 60" and 72" traps.

Where to Buy Tru Catch Traps

Tru Catch traps are available on TruCatch.com.   Unfortunately, Tru Catch traps are sometimes sold out or on backorder due to their high demand.  Wait time can be as long as 6-8 weeks.  Shipping can be quite expensive (as much as $150-$250), especially for the extra-large traps.  However, the 48F Folding Trap (48"x20"x28") offers free shipping to the lower 48 states.

Tomahawk Dog Traps

Tomahawk and Safeguard both offer some good quality traps in a variety of sizes and styles.  The Tomahawk Collapsible Dog Trap is a good option for several reasons.  The trap has a wide entrance (20"x26") and comes in a variety of lengths (48", 60" or 72") to fit medium to extra large dogs.  Unlike Tru Catch, this trap has a spring-loaded door that shuts quickly and prevents escape.  The trip plate is also set far back in the trap, which increases the chance that the entire dog is inside the trap before it is triggered.  Most Tomahawk traps also come with a sliding rear door for easy baiting and release of wildlife.  This trap also folds down for easy transport.

Tomahawk Collapsible Dog Trap

Pros


  • Spring-loaded door shuts quickly and locks to prevent escape.
  • Easy-to-set trigger mechanism.
  • Dogs are more likely to enter the larger entrance (20”x26” compared to 17”x26” for Tractor Supply dog trap).
  • Available in 48", 60" and 72" to fit medium to extra-large dogs.  Longer traps ensure that your entire dog is inside the trap before they step on the trip plate.  This results in fewer escapes.
  • Trip plate is located farther back in the trap so the dog is more likely to be fully inside the trap before the door shuts.
  • Easy to add bait using rear door.
  • Easy to release wildlife using rear door.
  • Made of high-quality materials and built to last.
  • Folds down flat for easy transport.

Cons


  • Generally not available in stores and must be ordered online.  
  • Shipping may take as long as 2-3 weeks.
  • Trip plate is smaller than Tru Catch traps and some dogs may manage to get the bait without setting off the trap.
  • Trip plate rod is located inside the trap and can be damaged by a frightened, struggling animal.  (On Safeguard traps the trip plate rod may be outside the trap.)
  • Trap door shuts loudly and may scare the trapped dog.

Where to Buy Tomahawk Dog Traps

The Tomahawk Collapsible Dog Trap is available on Amazon.com and often comes with free shipping.  Several other models are also available.  Unfortunately, shipping may take as long as 2-3 weeks, so this is not an option if you need a trap right away.  Some local hardware or feed and grain stores may sell Tomahawk or Safeguard brand traps, but they are not generally available at large stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot.

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Humane Way Folding Dog Trap

Compared to the Tru Catch and the Tomahawk, the Humane Way trap is not really the best design for catching lost dogs.  However, if you need to locate a trap quickly, this trap may be available with fast shipping from Amazon.com  I have two Humane Way traps and they work well for dogs up to 40-50 lbs.  They may accommodate dogs up to 60-80 lbs if the dog is not trap-shy.  These traps are built with somewhat lower quality materials and will bend or break with prolonged use.  But if you need a trap ASAP and cannot locate one to borrow from a local shelter or rescue group, it may be your best option.

Humane Way Folding Dog Trap

Pros


  • Gravity door shuts quietly and locks to prevent escape.
  • Easy-to-set trigger mechanism.
  • More affordable option.
  • Often ships quickly from Amazon.com
  • Trip plate rod is located outside trap where it is not at risk of damage from a panicked animal.
  • Folds flat for easy transport.

Cons


  • May not be suitable for large dogs.  Okay for dogs up to 50 lbs and maybe 60-80 lbs if not trap-shy.
  • Smaller entrance so some dogs may hesitate to enter the trap.
  • Small trip plate may allow some dogs to get the bait without setting off the trap.
  • No sliding rear door, so it is more difficult to put bait in the back of the trap.
  • More difficult to release wildlife.  Requires releasing lock and opening front door.
  • Made of lower quality materials, which may bend or break over time.

Where to Buy the Humane Way Folding Dog Trap

The Humane Way Folding Dog Trap is not generally sold in stores, but they are available online.  Sometimes available with free 2-day shipping from Amazon.com.  If sold out on Amazon, then check out Wildlife-Traps.com.  They also have some similar affordable options. 

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Don't Buy the CountyLine Catch & Release Live Animal Trap

I do not recommend the CountryLine Catch & Release Live Animal Trap that is often available at local hardware stores like Tractor Supply Co.  This trap is often advertised a coyote trap, but is really only suitable for animals less than 20 lbs.  The design of the trap increases the chance that a dog will not be fully inside the trap when they step on the trip plate, which increases the chance of escape.  Keep in mind that a poorly designed trap is NOT better than no trap at all.  If your dog is scared by a trap and escapes, they will be very difficult to trap again.

Pros


  • May be available at a local hardware store.

Cons


  • Not suitable for medium or large dogs.  Okay for dogs up to 20 lbs.
  • Smaller entrance so some dogs may hesitate to enter the trap.
  • Trip plate located in center of trap, so a larger dog may not be completely inside the trap when they trigger the door.  Results in more escapes.
  • Small trip plate may allow some dogs to get the bait without setting off the trap.
  • Door is made of thin metal which may bend and allow escape of a panicked animal.
  • No sliding rear door, so it is more difficult to put bait in the back of the trap.
  • More difficult to release wildlife.  Requires releasing lock and opening front door.
  • Made of lower quality materials, which may bend or break over time.

Other Trap Resources

Trap Loans or Rentals

Since large dog traps are difficult to find in stores, be sure to check with Animal Control Officers (ACOs) in your town and nearby towns, shelters and rescue groups to see if they have a trap that they will loan to you.  Just make sure that the trap is large enough for your dog and don't rely on the ACO or shelter to know this.  I have seen them both lend out traps that are much too small.  


If you need assistance trapping your dog, you might also look for a pet detective or volunteer lost pet recovery group to help you.  Some of these individuals/groups may rent or loan humane dog traps.  They may also have other trapping tools for trap-shy dogs that refuse to enter a regular cage trap.  

Where Else to Buy a Trap

If you need to purchase a trap, you could also check these quality animal/wildlife control companies.  If you are lucky enough to be near one, call them and see if you have the option of picking up the trap at their warehouse rather than waiting to have it shipped.


If you are not near any of these companies, try calling any local farmers supply or feed & grain stores in your area.  You may get lucky and find one that carries quality dog or coyote cage traps.

Before you Start Trapping, Make Sure You Know What You Are Doing!

Obtaining a trap is only part of catching a lost or stray dog.  Make sure that you know what you are doing.  You want to select the proper location, set the trap up correctly, and bait it properly.  Most importantly, you want to make sure that you monitor the trap adequately.  Failure to do these things may reduce the chances of catching your dog.  And worst case, could result in injury or death or your dog or another animal.  Learn more about effective trap surveillance options here.


You may want to seek on-site assistance from someone with experience catching loose dogs.  If you can't find someone local, then consider doing a phone consultation with a pet detective, volunteer lost pet recovery group or animal rescue group.  This site also includes information on safe and effective trapping.  Check out the Lost Pet Recovery Online Instructions and the Trapping Checklist for Lost Dogs.  

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