Crate training has so many benefits, from safely leaving your pup home alone to creating a safe den for Fido to relax in.
What you may not have expected from crate training is for your puppy or dog to have accidents inside their kennel.
Fear not, there is a way to fix this so you won’t have to spend your days cleaning crates and giving emergency baths!
Generally, dogs poop in their crate when it is too big, they’re not fully potty trained, are left in the crate for too long, feel anxious, or have a medical issue. Ensure the crate is the right size, have a routine, offer exercise and mental games, call your vet, and keep working on crate training to stop crate pooping.
In this article, I will explain what may be causing your dog to poop in their crate and how to stop this problem from happening (because no one likes to spend their day cleaning).
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Believe it or not, there are many different reasons why your dog may be pooping in their crate.
Most pet owners think that the larger the crate, the better for the dog. This is a common thought process based on us liking our space to move around. In reality, however, a crate that is too big is actually worse for your dog!
Dogs don’t tend to defecate where they sleep, but if the crate is large, they may designate a corner of it as a potty zone while they sleep and relax on the opposite side.
This is most prevalent in young puppies who are still learning the appropriate places to relieve themselves. This is the risk when a crate is too large!
If you have a new puppy and are in the process of potty training, you have to expect at least _some _accidents to happen.
After all, your dog is just a baby and still learning!
However, if you notice the accidents being quite frequent, then that usually means that your potty training techniques may not be resonating with your new puppy. So be flexible in adjusting how you do things to ensure your dog is successful!
Dogs at different ages have their own maximum time they can spend in a crate, primarily because of their bowels. In my article on how long a day can be in a crate, the suggested periods are as follow:
If your dog is spending more time in their crate than they should (based on their stomachs), you will come to find poop in the crate. It’s not their fault! So definitely be mindful of how long you keep your pup locked up.
If you’ve read through a good chunk of my articles on crate training and leaving your dog alone, then you’ll be pretty familiar with the topic of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is when your dog displays panicked or anxious behavior because you’re not with them.
One such common behavioral display with separation anxiety is pooping when you aren’t there. Since crate-trained dogs tend to be left in their crate when you’ve left the room or the home, that is where their panicked symptoms will display.
If your dog only poops in their crate when you’ve left them alone, separation anxiety may be the reason.
If pooping in the crate is unusual for your dog, it’s best to rule out any sort of medical reason for this phenomenon.
This is true for really any behavior that is out-of-the-normal routine, so it’s important to know what is normal for your dog!
Pooping in the crate can be due to gastric issues, infection, incontinence, tumors near the rectum, and more. Frequent yearly checkups are important to detect these issues, as well as getting an appointment whenever your dog acts a little unusual.
Doesn’t a life with no more crate accidents sound nice? Once you pinpoint the cause of your dog’s defecation in the crate, you can take the steps necessary to remedy the problem!
First and foremost, make sure the crate accidents aren’t due to a medical issue. Have your dog or pup checked out - just in case!
If the accidents result from a medical problem, follow the treatment plan laid out by your veterinarian.
If you find that your dog is suffering from anxiety, and that’s why accidents are happening, work with a certified dog trainer to help both your dog and yourself.
A dog trainer can help steer you into the correct training methods for both getting your dog to enjoy the crate and having them stop being so panicked when you’re away. This should alleviate not just pooping in the kennel, but all of the other anxiety behaviors your dog is likely displaying.
After ruling out the above two methods, the next thing you’re going to want to do (especially if you have a young dog) is to check the size of the crate!
I have a great guide and calculator on the appropriately sized crate for your dog here.
But, changing the crate isn’t everything. You’ll have to continue your potty training as crate size adjustment isn’t a perfect fix!
If you know pooping in the crate isn’t caused by a medical issue or severe anxiety, then it must be more of a training issue. Having a routine for your dog makes training a breeze, both for crate time and potty time! Try to time the routine around when your dog eats and plays, so you can take them out at the appropriate time to relieve themselves.
Your dog will become accustomed to this routine, and so will their stomach, over time! This should mitigate future accidents and make life much more pleasant for everyone involved.
Whenever we run into some form of behavioral problem, physical and mental stimulation tends to be a great fix.
Dogs often misbehave because they miss a vital part of their life needs, such as exercising to get that extra energy out and mental games to exhaust that brain.
How much is needed depends on the breed and your individual dog. For example, a herding dog like a border collie needs more exercise than a couch-potato breed like a Maltese.
By giving your dog the stimulation they crave, they’ll be more satisfied with life as a whole. Timing the stimulation correctly based on when you leave your dog crated should have your dog sleeping like a baby in their kennel and not having accidents!
If none of the above has helped, your dog may have learned that it’s easier to potty in the kennel and hide it with bedding than to have to go outside.
As much as we want to provide our dogs with comfort and warmth in their crate, you should remove the bedding until they are fully broken of the pooping-in-the-crate habit.
Dogs don’t want to sit in their own feces or urine, and if they don’t have bedding to cover it with, they’ll be faster at learning to stop.