Crate training has so many hurdles to overcome, from encouraging your puppy to step inside all the way to teaching them to be calm alone.
One of the most frustrating of these challenges can be potty training, which can lead to many sleepless nights and crate washing!
If your puppy peed in their crate, I’m sure you’re very frustrated about it.
Generally, puppies pee in the crate because of being there too long, not having an effective potty schedule, the crate is too big, anxiousness, or due to having a medical issue. You can remedy this by checking the crate size, making a good schedule, not leaving water overnight, rewarding the puppy for peeing in the right spot, and working on reducing anxiety.
In this article, I hope to ease your potty training burden by explaining why your puppy urinates in their kennel and what you can do to break this frustrating habit!
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Several reasons could explain why your puppy is peeing in their crate, most of which are probably not your puppy’s fault.
The first thing to understand is this: puppies don’t have very good control over their bladders.
Not only are their bladders small in size, but they biologically are unable to ‘hold it’ as an adult dog can.
Through maturity, they can learn to relieve themselves at the appropriate times. Add in the fact that puppies eat and drink a lot more than adult dogs (most puppies eat three to four meals a day while growing, versus adult dogs that only partake in one to two meals) and have to go to the bathroom a lot more frequently.
As such, the most common problem for peeing in the crate is simply being left in the kennel for way too long.
Although the amount of time you can leave the puppy in a crate will differ with every person, you ask. The general consensus (as established by the Humane Society) is that a puppy should not be left in a crate for longer than four hours.
Puppies need routines - this helps their minds and bodies understand the day-to-day schedule and adapt accordingly.
Having a schedule allows the puppy’s body to function better as well, as their stomach will be prepared for food at a set hour, and their bladder will know to relieve itself soon after.
Scheduling your puppy also allows you to adapt your own day-to-day to your puppy’s needs, alleviating a lot of the frustration of puppy rearing.
You can prevent most (if not all) accidents by adapting the potty schedule around feeding and watering time so that your puppy simply has nothing left in their bladder by the time they need to stay in the crate!
Coinciding hand in hand with having a schedule is the timing upon which you crate your puppy.
Even if you have a set routine, if you crate your puppy at the wrong time, you’re setting yourself up to clean up an accident later on.
You don’t want to ever crate directly after feeding time; aim to have a bit of a play or hangout session after eating, take the puppy potty, and only then crate after a successful potty.
If the crate is too big, your puppy will be inclined to designate a corner for potty time and a corner for sleeping so that they don’t intermingle.
Most animals don’t want to lie in their own urine, so if the crate is the appropriate size, you won’t see this problem occur as often (if at all).
Generally, a crate is too small if the dog cannot stand up and turn around comfortably and too big if the dog can walk around in it.
Like children, puppies go through a range of phases and emotions, and some are more predisposed to anxiety than others.
If you happen to have an anxious puppy or are experiencing a fear period, that may be the cause of peeing in the crate. Likewise, defecating where the puppy lies (like a crate) can be a symptom of anxiety.
This is especially true if you notice the peeing is only in the crate and nowhere else in the home or if you see the peeing tied to a specific situation (such as you leaving the puppy by themself).
Finally, sometimes peeing in the wrong place is due to a medical issue and not any sort of behavioral problem.
If your puppy suffers from a UTI (urinary tract infection), they’ll be more likely to have accidents. This is especially clear if your puppy is not usually prone to peeing in the crate and recently started to suddenly.
This is why routine check-ups are so important, as is a call to the vet if you notice an off-the-wall behavior.
Depending on what is causing your puppy to pee in the crate, there are ways to help break them out of this habit!
The best thing you can do first is to make sure that your puppy’s issues don’t stem from an infection or similar medical issue. Give your vet a ring and get a check-up!
Next, look to make sure the crate you have for your puppy isn’t too big. It’s okay if you pick a crate that is a bit bigger than you need, your puppy can grow into it over time!
But while the puppy is small, you should acquire a crate that is the appropriate size or see if you can buy a separating wall to put inside the existing crate to minimize the size.
Once the above has been done, start setting a really effective schedule for your puppy.
This schedule should involve feeding, play, walking, crate, and potty time.
Try to frame the bathroom breaks around when your puppy is eating and drinking water, as you know what tends to happen shortly after that!
Put your puppy in the crate when they’ve successfully been outside, and make sure not to leave them in there for longer than necessary.
You have to consider their bladder when designating crate timing. This extends to the nighttime as well. Young puppies need to be taken outside throughout the night, while older puppies will begin weaning off of this with age.
It’s important to make sure your puppy is well hydrated, but if you leave a water bowl in the crate overnight, this could be part of the problem.
Drinking water is great during the daytime, but since nighttime is intended for sleeping, you don’t want your puppy woken by a full bladder.
Remove water from the kennel when it’s time to sleep (unless your puppy has a medical issue requiring constant water access).
Despite accidents in the crate, you should continue with your potty training.
Continue to reward and encourage your puppy to use the bathroom in the correct place! Throw them an exciting party full of praise and treats for going outside!
If your puppy does have an accident in the crate, refrain from punishing the puppy!
Your little one won’t understand why they’re being yelled at or scolded, as puppies have pretty short memories for the association.
Unless you caught the puppy in the act of peeing, your punishment is falling on deaf ears (and, if anything, is simply scaring your puppy for no real reason).
Instead, pick your puppy up and place them in the potty area while you clean the kennel. Do the above and reward your puppy if they continue their pottying in the right spot.
Finally, if your puppy is peeing due to experiencing a fear period or other anxious reasons, it is best to consult with an expert on your best steps to tackle this problem.
Anxiety can be difficult to grip on your own, so consulting a trainer specializing in this tends to be the best route to take.
It can be incredibly frustrating to deal with a puppy that pees in their crate. If your puppy has already developed the habit, it can be even harder to get them out of it and will take some time and patience.
As such, many owners wonder if they could mitigate the problem in the meantime by using puppy pads in the crate.
Nope! Sorry folks, this solution will only worsen the problem and potentially be hazardous to your puppy.
Firstly, you shouldn’t have a large crate to fit a pee pad along with your pup in the first place. If you do, that’s likely a part of the problem.
Second, pee pads will only further encourage your puppy to continue urinating in their kennel. They will see it as not only permission but an encouragement to continue going in their crate.
Third, puppies love to chew - especially during the teething stage.
Pee pads can make enticing chews for your furry little one, and a dangerous one at that. It is very easy for your puppy to swallow pieces and cause medical problems. Mitigate this risk by not leaving anything easy to destroy in your puppy’s crate.
Although there are solutions for using puppy pads safely, like a plastic cover, I still would advise you to stay away from pads unless absolutely necessary.