How Can I Get My Dog To Stop Peeing In Her Crate?

We often get puppy questions through our blog, email, and social media channels and recently received similar crate training questions several times over the past month.  The basic questions was “How Can I Get My Dog To Stop Peeing In Her Crate?”

Before we brought home our first puppy we read several books about how to train puppies.  We wanted to learn as much as we could about puppies before diving into puppy ownership.  Now over 8 years later we continue to read books about puppies and dog training.

We rescued Linus from the shelter, fostered dozens of puppies and dogs, raised 4 guide dog puppies, and puppy sat countless dogs and puppies.  Maybe we’re not experts, but we do think we know a little more than the average bear.

We get hundreds of questions every month about puppies, dogs, and training.  Over the years we’ve kept the answers in the comment section, but starting this year (2013) we’re going to highlight questions and answer it right here on the blog!  Our hope is to build a resource section and help answer some of the most common puppy training questions.

So without further adieu…

How Can I Get My Dog To Stop Peeing In Her Crate?

Crate Training Dublin

Dublin didn’t have any potty problems during crate training

We hear this question several times a month in it’s different variations.  Maybe your dog is peeing in her crate or maybe your dog is pooping in her crate either way your question is probably what can I do to get my dog to stop having accidents in her crate.

The original crate training question we received this week is below:

Question

“Hi I am crate training my 9 week boxer puppy. She is peeing and pooing in the crate overnight and then whines to be let out. what should I do if she doesn’t cry when she has to go?”

Answer:

You have to remember that a puppy as young as yours (around 9 weeks of age) probably does not yet have full control of her bladder.  She may not always know when she has to potty, but there are some things you can do in your situation.

Your goal is to not allow your puppy to potty in the crate anymore.  At some point in time she learned that it was okay to potty in the crate.  If she’s having accidents in the crate during the day and at night you need to make sure you reduce the amount of time she spends in the crate and over time incrementally extend the amount of time she spends in her crate.

Lets start off by speculating as to why your puppy is peeing/pooping in her crate.  There could be several reasons why a puppy has an accident while in crate:

  • Crate size is too big.  If you’re crate is too big then your puppy will often times use one side to potty (her bathroom) and the other side to sleep (her bedroom).  A crate should only be large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around any bigger than that and you might have a few potty accidents.
  • Before you brought home your puppy she learned to potty in her crate.  In general puppies will not potty where they sleep, but there could be reasons why your puppy learned to do this before you brought her home.  If you bought from a pet store (please don’t buy from pet stores as the majority of these puppies come from puppy mills) your puppy probably learned to potty where she sleeps.  The same could be true if you purchased from an irresponsible breeder.  Responsible breeders will often times start potty training their pups before they go home with their new families.  If you adopted your puppy may have learned to potty in there kennel or other sleeping area.  You never really know, but sometime in her past she may have learned to potty in her crate.
  • She has a bladder infection or some kind of health issue.  A trip to the veterinarian may be in order.  You might want to consider this as an option if your puppy is having unusual potty accidents.

Basic Crate And Potty Training

Make sure you read through these two articles:

Since your puppy is peeing/pooping in the crate overnight without any whining to alert you then you should consider setting your alarm clock 2-3 times spread out through the night, wake up, take your puppy to her potty spot, have her potty, then take her right back to bed.

Another thing you should do to help avoid future puppy potty accidents in crate is thoroughly wash your crate using an enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle (aff link).  Puppies like to potty in the same place where they went before.  If she can smell the urine in the crate then she might go there again.  Moving forward, anytime she has an accident make sure you thoroughly clean the crate again.

If you’re putting blankets or towels in the crate I would consider removing these.  Puppies usually like going potty on soft surfaces as opposed to hard surfaces.

As mentioned earlier make sure you have the right size crate.  If you bought a large crate to allow your puppy to grow into it I would either purchase a smaller, proper sized crate or use a divider to make the crate the correct size.

Keep your puppy on a consistent feeding schedule.  Try to make sure you feed your puppy at the same times every day.  You’ll notice a consistent feeding schedule = a consistent potty schedule.

You should start keeping a daily puppy potty schedule to keep track of every time your puppy pees, poops, eats, and drinks water.  You’ll notice that your puppy is very predictable as to when she potties in relation to the times she eats, drinks, plays, etc.

Make sure you feed your puppy at least a couple hours before you put her to bed for the night.

Make sure you take your puppy out to potty (and make sure she goes) right before you put her in her crate for the night.

Talk To Your Veterinarian And Local Dog Trainer

It’s always a good idea to speak with your local professionals.  If you don’t already have a local veterinarian or dog trainer then you should start doing some research to find some good ones in your area.  Having a good vet and trainer will be a great resource for you and your dog today and in the future.

You should also consider enrolling in a puppy kindergarten which will give you a chance to socialize your puppy, learn basic obedience, and have a professional dog trainer to ask questions.  Not only that, but you’ll find that you may be experiencing similar frustrations with your puppy as others in the group.  It always feels better when you realize that you are not the only one experiencing these puppy training and behavior problems

I hope this helps to answer your puppy training question.

What about everyone else out there?  Have you had any problems with your crate training?  Did your puppy used to potty in her crate?  If so, tell us what you did to solve the problem.

Comments

  1. Allison says

    I always thought having a big crate would be better for the dogs so they can run around and not be cramped, but it makes sense to have a smaller crate if they are only in there to sleep. I guess it’s the same as having a huge bedroom…not necessary if all you’re going to do in there is sleep. Thanks Colby!

    • says

      If you’re working on conventional crate training with your puppy then you want to make sure the size of your crate fits the size of your pup otherwise he may potty on one side and sleep on the other.

  2. says

    You won’t like this answer. :-)

    I heard puppies can only hold it an hour for every month old they are. (A 2 month old puppy can hold for up to 2 hours) when we got Sampson we knew he was going to be a big dog, so we bought a big crate. His blanket was in the back of the crate and I put newspaper for him to potty on in the front.

    As he got older, I put less and less newspaper in the crate, once he stopped pottying on the paper I took it out.

    That was the advice I was given at the time and it worked for us.

    • says

      Hi Jodi,

      I’ve heard the same thing about pups being able to hold their bladder about an hour for every month.

      If that method of crate training worked for you then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. In my mind your method of crate training would be similar to using an X-Pen to contain your puppy in a specific area like the kitchen and put paper or potty pads down inside the X-Pen. Puppy will potty in one area and sleep/play in another.

      Every situation is different and my answer is definitely not the only one. I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences so we all have a better understanding of how to better raise and train our puppies and dogs.

      Thanks,
      Colby

  3. says

    When I got my lab he had a couple of accidents in his crate the first few weeks and it was just as you mentioned – he was too young to hold it overnight. I got up in the middle of the night for a few weeks and took him out and the problem was solved. They grow fast and it didn’t take long before he could go all night with no accidents. It took until about 6 months before he would vocalize wanting to go out but I noticed that he would try to tell me by hovering or sitting by the door from as early as 9 weeks old. If your puppy isn’t vocal right away then you will definitely have to be extra vigilant overnight as you won’t see their physical cues to go out.

    • says

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I usually notice my pup’s hovering around the front door at around the same age. Puppies are pretty smart and figure out where they are supposed to potty very quickly. The only problem is pups don’t have much bladder control at 9 weeks and if you don’t see their signal they will have an accident in the house.

      If you’re working on potty training your puppy it’s definitely a good idea to keep a close eye on your pup when he’s in the house.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Colby

  4. Jessica Sala says

    We regulated the water and food and kept an eye on them after they would eat and/or drink. With such little bladders, they can only hold it for so long of a time. We’d wait about a half hour and take them outside. If they didn’t go at that point we’d take them out every 10 minutes until they went. They got the idea very quickly and accidents were few and far between.

    • Chrissy says

      We learned quickly that it was us, the humans, that needed the training. I always feel bad when Lily (2 mos old) has an accident because I either missed the signs or lost track of time. We too had to learn to be consistent and find the more diligent we are sticking to a schedule, the quicker she progresses. We ALWAYS take her out immediately when she wakes up including naps, and every 2 hours. She has an accident every once in awhile after playing with Levi, but we are learning her signs of sniffing but it takes constant observation. We never leave her out if our site. We also keep a bell hanging on the door and ring it every time we take her out. Eventually she will learn to ring the bell when she needs to go out as Levi does today. Good luck!!

  5. Marjorie Ray says

    We never had this problem, although Abbey is vocal and would whine to wake me up to take her out. 2 or 3 times a night when she was little, got down to once a night and now is rare. (she is 7 months) No dawdling, no playing no loving. Just do your business and get back to bed.

  6. says

    Hi Colby

    Great advice!! I never wanted to pee in my crate, I just wanted to get out, it took me a while to convince Mum and Dad I didn’t need a crate, but I got there in the end – Tee Hee

    Hope you’re having a fun day :)

    Your pal Snoopy :)

    • says

      Hi Snoopy!

      Good job convincing Mum and Dad to let you out of the crate. All of our guide dog pups have to learn to use the crate and in the end they love it. Linus still goes in his crate just to hang out. I don’t think I’ve closed the door to his crate in several years.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Colby

    • says

      Hi Jessica!

      I get so many questions from my readers I’m not sure why I didn’t do this long ago. I’d have to agree with you on your assessment of Chester and his accidents in his crate.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Colby

  7. says

    As a pet sitter that specialized in pets with behavioral problems, medical needs & senior pets, ( http://www.shannonspetsitting.net ) I see crate training done improperly A LOT!! A crate is supposed to be a puppy/dogs safe haven. Not a form of punishment. I see many pet owners who are under the assumption that their dog can only hold it for 2-4 hours. REALLY!? they never give the dog a change to grow & Strengthen their bladder muscles. EXCELLENT article! Lots of great information!

    • says

      Thanks Shannon! We crate train all of our guide dog puppies. It’s definitely a great way to potty train. Even today my 6 and 8 year old dogs will go into their crate on their own just to take a nap.

  8. says

    Hi Colby,

    I used to have this problem with my dog, and just when I was about to throw in the towel out of frustration, a neighbor told me to take her to the vet. I found out that she had a bladder infection which got promptly treated by antibiotics and fluids. Sometimes, the problem isn’t behavioral so guys might want to pay attention to that. Great blog!

    Alana

    • says

      Thanks Alana for sharing your experiences. Yep, every once in a while it isn’t a behavioral issue and your pup could just have a bladder infection. I’m glad yours is doing better now after getting treatment from your vet.

  9. Ashley says

    My pup just turned 10 weeks yesterday. He does go when ever I take him outside. I feed him twice a day as far as his feeding schedule goes. Maybe I’m still not taking him out enough because he still pees inside, without warning. He only sniffs around when he needs to go poop. I bought a potty patch to try to help catch those “accidents”. Do you think that’s hurting the situation?

  10. says

    If your dog is having accidents in your crate you should also consider a waterproof, washable crate pad so that you can eliminate any odors that may be triggering your dog’s urges. At Teton Dog we sell a crate pad that is 100% waterproof with a removable cover that you can wash in HOT water to eliminate any trace of urine, as well as allow you to sterilize the cover to help reduce infections

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