Have you ever felt as though crate training your dog is one step forward, two steps back? Does your dog poop in his crate repeatedly even though you feel like you have exhausted every avenue to try and fix the problem? Dogs are naturally clean animals, so if yours is regularly pooping or urinating in his crate, there is definitely a problem that needs addressing. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place.
So, why does my dog poop in his crate? Your dog could be pooping in his crate for several reasons – although the most likely is either anxiety, an underlying medical condition, or too much time spent in the crate. Sometimes, it is simply down to lack of training. Retraining or changing routines may be able to help resolve the problem, but if concerned, you should seek the advice of a veterinarian.
It all really comes down to context.
When did the pooping in the crate start – is it new behavior?
How old is your dog, how long have you been crating them, how is your dog behaving generally?
These are just some of the questions to ask.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to consider that crate training a dog can be a long process that involves a lot of repetition and persistence.
Mishaps along the way are just a part of this process, unfortunately.
But it could be something more serious, which is why it is always good to check and why you’ve done the right thing by stopping by today.
So continue reading to find out more about why dogs poop in their crates and what you can do about it.
Why Did My Dog Poop In His Crate?
At first, you may be tempted to think that your dog pooping in his crate is an accident, but there are actually a number of reasons your dog could be doing this.
So, it is essential that you first determine the cause of your dogs’ inappropriate bowel movements.
Time In Crate
If you have a puppy that is regularly pooping in his crate, you may need to adjust the amount of time he is left in the crate, as puppies cannot hold their bladders for as long as adult dogs.
Generally speaking, a puppy will be able to hold its bladder for an hour for each month of its’ age.
So, a two-month-old puppy should be able to ‘hold it’ for approximately two hours, although this does vary between individuals.
This amount will also vary at different times of the day, depending on what activity your puppy has been engaging in.
Young puppies should be taken out of their crate to go to the toilet 5-30 minutes after every meal, and you should also be mindful of when and how much your puppy drinks throughout the day.
The need to go to the toilet may also increase after a bout of playtime or after a nap.
Whenever your puppy does poop on command or during one of these scheduled potty breaks, it is very important that you offer plenty of praise and NEVER punish a dog for toileting in the wrong place, as this will likely lead to anxiety and make the problem even worse.
A strict routine can be very beneficial for puppies, and don’t forget that training aids and puppy pads can be very helpful during this process too.
Here are a few other reasons why your dog may be pooping inside his crate:
Surprisingly, with dogs, size matters! The ideal crate size for your dog will be large enough for him to comfortably stand up, turn around, and lie down.
However, do not make the mistake of getting a crate that is too large!
Crates that are too big may actually encourage your dog to poop in it, as he will still feel as though he has enough room for a sleeping area that is far enough away from his toileting area to still be comfortable.
Just like humans, some dogs have nervous personalities, which may be particularly prevalent in the first few weeks after moving into a new home.
Some dogs may also suffer from separation anxiety when their owners are not in the house, which can cause toileting accidents to occur.
If your dog has suddenly developed a change in bowel movements, it may be worth considering whether there have been any recent changes in the household that could have caused additional stress on your canine companion.
For example, have you recently added another pet to the household?
Have you changed jobs that requires you to be out of the house for a longer period of time?
Finding out the cause of your dog’s stress will help you to begin to rectify the situation more quickly.
There are numerous parasites that can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system, causing bouts of diarrhea and even a complete loss of control over his bowel movements in extreme cases.
Hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms are just some of the common culprits in this situation, which is why it is so important for you to regularly apply flea and worm treatments to your dog.
Parasitic infections can be particularly fatal for young puppies, so it is always best to seek the advice of a vet if you are concerned, especially if you notice that your puppy is losing weight and appears anemic.
Certain Medical Conditions
Bladder infections and kidney issues can cause a loss of bladder control in dogs and require medical attention in order to be treated.
Some conditions may exhibit other signs, too, such as blood in the stool and weight loss, but not all, so it is best to speak to a vet if you are worried.
Your vet may ask for a stool sample to analyze, as well as perform a physical exam to determine if there is an underlying medical condition.
It is worth remembering that incontinence is fairly common in elderly dogs and that there are a number of medications that can cause diarrhea in dogs too.
As mentioned above, and if you have ruled out any other possible causes, your dog may be pooping in his crate through lack of training.
If this is the case, the best course of action would be to start the crate training process from the beginning and ensure that any routine you put in place is strictly adhered to.
How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Pooping In His Crate?
A good rigid routine is the key to successfully stopping your dog from pooping in his crate if the problem is caused by a regression in crate training. If you believe the issue to be health-related, then you must seek advice from your vet, who may perform additional tests to find the root cause of the problem.
Every puppy goes through a transitional stage when they first move into a new environment, so a small number of ‘accidents’ are to be expected.
Luckily, training your puppy to poop on command and not in the crate is relatively simple – it just takes a bit of persistence and patience from you as the owner.
Older dogs may take a little more time to adjust, especially if pooping in the crate has become a regular habit, but it can be fixed!
Positive Crate Association
The first step to crate training is helping your dog to build up a positive association with the crate; you want your dog to see the crate as his ‘happy place.’
So feel free to add comfortable blankets to the crate and throw in a few of his favorite toys to make it more appealing!
Shorter Crate Periods
It’s best to leave the crate door open in the beginning, so your dog can go in and out on his own terms.
You can then move on to closing the door for short periods. Always bear in mind that dogs are pack animals, so they are not comfortable with being alone for long periods.
If your job requires you to be out of the house for 6-8 hours a day or even longer, you should really think about whether this routine is detrimental to your dog’s welfare.
You can always consider getting a Doggielawn too, to help with inside toilet incidents!
Regular Check-ups And Attention
There are many options you can consider in this situation; do you have a neighbor who is willing to drop in on your dog a couple of times a day to let him out of his crate for exercise, socialization, and to take him outside for toilet breaks?
Could you pop home in your lunch hour to see your dog?
Failing that, you could enlist the services of a local dog walker or pet sitting service to look after your dog.
The bottom line is that dogs should not be left alone for longer than 4-5 hours in any one period, so you should try to find ways to prevent this from happening.
Separation anxiety, also referred to as separation-related behavior (SRB), is fairly common in dogs that are left alone for long periods.
Common symptoms include destructive behaviors, frequent vocalizations such as howling and barking and developing unwanted toileting habits.
Perhaps the easiest way to assess if your dog has developed separation anxiety is to film your dog when you leave the house.
Symptoms should start showing around 30 minutes after you leave; however, it could be much sooner. Pacing and whining are also indicators of this condition and often suggest a high level of distress in your dog.
You’re probably now thinking, ‘but I can’t stay at home all day to keep my dog company as I have to go to work!”.
Well, luckily, there are a number of other options.
Boredom breaker toys are great for keeping your dog mentally stimulated while you are away, and they don’t have to be expensive either!
Dogs have a very keen sense of smell, so use this to your advantage by hiding treats for your dog to find.
You can either buy puzzle feeders such as snuffle mats or Kong toys on Amazon, or you can make your own!
Personally, I am a huge advocate of this Nina Ottoson toy from Amazon. It’s small and compact too, so it easily fits in the crate.
Or, if you have the time and skill, you can make your own.
Snuffle mats are easy to make and offer your dog hours of entertainment!
Simply weave long strips of felt through the holes of a rubber bathmat or sink mat and then hide treats within the folds for your dog to find!
Other DIY options include creating a tug toy by wrapping a tennis ball in one of your old t-shirts and then plaiting the remaining material, or you can simply place treats inside the finger holes of an old glove.
There are plenty of tutorials online for things like this, so do a bit of research and get creating!
The more varied your toys, the more interaction they will get from your dog.
If you find that toys are not reducing the level of anxiety in your dog when he is alone, you may need to put in some additional time for training.
Start by telling your dog to sit as you slowly move backward away from him. You can then progress this method by instructing your dog to stay while you leave the room for a few seconds and then slowly build up the time that you are away.
Always offer treats and praise when your dog succeeds in the task, and watch closely for any signs of distress.
If your dog begins to whine or bark, then move back a stage and try again.
With this training method, you are aiming to reassure your dog that you will return, which will lessen the anxiety when he is alone.
Over to you.
You may need to do a little investigation here and then.
But hopefully, now you are aware of the different reasons and have some idea of how to approach this unfortunate problem.
Just remember, with all of the training methods mentioned in this article, patience is key!
Every dog is different, so you must monitor your dog throughout the training process and move back a stage if necessary.
But it’s worth it.
Besides, you shouldn’t have to deal with cleaning the crate of poop too regularly.
That’s not what dog ownership is about.
And the time you put in now will go a long way towards ensuring your dog remains happy and healthy for years to come.
Regular vet check-ups are also important to make sure that any developing medical conditions are picked up early on and treated accordingly.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.