It's normal to wonder how to stop your dog from pooping in the crate, especially if you're training a new puppy. A combination of getting the best dog crate and good crate training is a common technique owners use to establish boundaries and keep puppies (or dogs) safe when they're away. We've got an extensive, vet-written piece on how to crate train a dog that will help newcomers out, but what if you've already started the crate training and your dog won't stop using it as a new bathroom?
Don't fret, this isn't an uncommon occurrence. There are a few reasons why your dog may be pooping in its crate, and a few ways to help solve this poopy problem. Read on for advice.
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PetsRadar's advice on how to stop your dog from pooping in the crate
We'll cover a few ways you can stop your dog from pooping (or peeing) in their crate, from picking the right size to sticking to a schedule to ruling out health issues. Don't fret, you can figure this out and you and your pup can live happy, healthy, and less smelly lives!
Decide if a crate is right for your dog
Not all dogs can tolerate crates, which is something you should consider when crate training is a topic of conversation. If you have a dog trainer, discuss it with them, as some dogs can get claustrophobic or otherwise anxious when in a crate. Some dogs don't need to be crated when left alone, as they don't have an affinity for chewing stuff they shouldn't or making messes, but always ensure you leave your dog in a safe situation when leaving the house.
Determining whether your dog is a good fit for crate training is something you can do on your own by observing them in a crate, or with a trainer if necessary. Crate training a puppy is far easier than trying to crate train an older dog, as you can help create positive associations with the crate and help teach a puppy bladder control. Older dogs may have negative connotations with the crate, or may fear solitude.
Check out how to stop crate training for more tips.
Pick the right size crate
If your dog's crate is too big for them, they'll have a ton of extra space in there and can easily justify going to the bathroom in one corner. If they can avoid that corner, it will feel more like the crate is divvied up into a resting space and a bathroom space. You'll want to make sure the crate is the big enough to ensure that your dog is comfortable but also small enough that they don't consider one end of the crate to be a restroom. If the crate is too small, it could cause stress or anxiety, which may result in them pooping in the crate.
When shopping for a dog crate, make sure you have your dog's length measurements and weight on hand. This will help determine the right sized crate when matched up against manufacturer's charts.
Rule out any health issues
If your dog is suddenly having accidents in their crate or is continuing to even after you've made adjustments to their schedule and/or crate size, make sure you rule out any health issues with a vet visit. They could have a medical issue that may be causing them to poop or pee in the crate, and a vet can also help advise you on food options that may be gentler on their tummies.
In terms of mental health, it's important to rule out separation anxiety as a cause for your dog pooping in the crate. You may need to see a behaviorist if you believe your dog is suffering from anxiety - make sure to read our story linked above on how to deal with separation anxiety in dogs.
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Make sure you take your dog out before crating them
When crate training puppies it is especially important that you take them out to use the restroom at night. As the AKC (opens in new tab) points out, puppies' bladders aren't fully developed, and it's difficult for them to hold their urine in all night long. If they have pee instances in the crate, they may associate the crate with the bathroom and start pooping in there, as well. Ensure that your dog has had enough time to go to the bathroom before crating them for long periods of time or over night - but remember you're not meant to keep your dog in the crate for very long. Experts suggest they shouldn't be in a crate for more than 6-8 hours straight, and with puppies it's even shorter. Extensive time in the crate can hurt a dog's physical and mental health.
- How to potty train a puppy: A vet's guide
Stick to a schedule
Sticking to a schedule is a great way to ensure your dog has well-established boundaries and healthy habits in every facet of its life, and the crate is no exception. Feed your dog meals at the same time every day, and remember to give them at least 30-60 minutes after a meal to go to the bathroom. Avoid putting them in the crate immediately after feeding them.
Make sure you stick to a consistent potty schedule as well. Your dog will benefit from structure and will be less likely to have accidents if they are used to regularly scheduled bathroom breaks.
Remove bedding temporarily
Many puppies who are having accidents in their crates learn that they can cover their poop or pee with the blankets or bedding owners have left in there to comfort them. Puppies may also prefer soiling a porous surface, which both blankets and bedding are. Removing the bedding for a period of time will help teach your dog that going to the bathroom on the comfy parts of the crate isn't a good idea.
Do not punish your dog for accidents
Positive reinforcement is always the way to go when training dogs, and crate-related accidents are no exception. If your dog poops in its crate, don't punish them, just simply remove them from the crate, clean the accident with pet-safe products that will help neutralize the odor, and wash the bedding if there's any in there.
As always, dog ownership requires patience - especially if you're training a new puppy. Remember that your dog is pooping in its crate for a reason, and try to put on your detective cap to figure out why. If it persists, don't forgot to consult a vet to rule out any health issues, and perhaps a behaviorist, as well.
You got this! A poop-free crate is in your future.
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