Say you recently got a new puppy. He’s the most beautiful animal you’ve ever had. And with his sweet little face – he’s already won your heart…
UNTIL YOU SEE THE PUPPY PEEING IN CRATE!
The dog has a perfect personality, but his potty habits are totally off. His crate is comfortable and everything – but you simply can’t wrap your head around why he uses it as a bathroom.
HOW CAN YOU FIX THAT?
Well, it’s not as hard as it seems – but you’ll have to know why it’s happening in the first place.
Here, we go over all these reasons. You’ll learn how to keep your dog from peeing in the crate – whether your dog is a new untrained puppy or an old doggo…
17 Ways to Stop Dog Peeing in Crate
We wanted to show the best strategies to keep dogs from peeing where they sleep. However, we want to show them in level of importance (going from the simplest ones to the hardest), so you can go step-by-step and test which strategy works better.
We also explain the logic behind each tactic, plus why your dog is peeing where it shouldn’t in the first place.
Without much further ado – let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
#1. Introduce the Crate
Peeing in a crate is easy when your puppy doesn’t even understand what the crate is for. That’s why introducing the puppy to the crate works as the first strategy.
This is primarily true if you’re adopting a young puppy (less than 2 months old) that hasn’t been trained yet.
It also happens with adult dogs when you buy a new crate. They may be familiar with the crate yet, so they don’t treat it as a “home.”
The solution is simple: get your dog comfortable with the crate. Make sure it sleeps and naps on it, plus spends most of its time in the crate. The dog will eventually realize it’s not a place for peeing.
TO CONSIDER: Bring their toys, bedding, and other things with their smell inside the crate. This will familiarize them with the place and make it more of a space to hang than a place to pee.
#2. Remove Bedding and Blankets
Dogs like to pee in soft areas. This includes blankets, bedding, and other fabrics. Because they resemble grass and soft soil, they may think the fabrics are for peeing.
Also, the fabrics make it easy to cover the mess. This sometimes even includes poop, as the dogs don’t understand their crate is for sleeping only.
To fix this, you can simply remove all the fabrics in the crate. Even if it feels uncomfortable to the dog for a while, it is the perfect solution to teach them it is not a place for peeing.
You can introduce the fabrics later on. The dog shouldn’t use them as a bathroom anymore. But if they do, simply keep the crate fabric-free to avoid issues. Your dog won’t pee DIRECTLY where he does the sleeping – you can be sure of that.
EXTRA FACTOR: Changing the bedding consistently may also work, even though that’s a lot more effort on your part.
#3. Keep the Crate Clean
Fabrics and objects in the crate will eventually absorb the smell of pee and poo. Your dog will get comfortable with peeing there, especially as everything smells like a bathroom.
As you may guess, cleaning the crate as soon as an accident happens is essential. But more importantly, you’ll want to use an antibacterial spray and other strong solutions that obliterate the smell.
The focus is to keep your dog from thinking the crate is a bathroom by not letting ANYTHING make him think of that.
WORTHWHILE ADVICE: Enzymatic cleaners are surprisingly effective at eliminating smells and bacteria from their pee.
#4. Keep the Crate Small
There’s a general rule to follow regarding crate sizes: they should be large enough for the dog to sleep in and turn around. Any extra space may be unnecessary, especially because dogs can use that extra space on a large crate for things like peeing.
It’s known that dogs don’t like sleeping on their residues, but they don’t mind if they’re a few feet away. Keep the dog from doing that by not leaving any extra feet for your dog to pee inside the crate.
By the way, small crates could also cause this. The dog cannot turn and move easily inside the crate, so it decides to pee in it out of frustration.
TO CONSIDER: If you’re keeping your dog locked in the crate for long, you better find a different cage or pen than the sleeping crate. Otherwise, your dog may not find any alternative to peeing in it.
#5. Feed in the Crate
Dogs are clean animals for the most part. That often means they don’t like peeing and pooping where they eat.
Giving your dog food in the crate makes them think that’s their dinner table. They won’t pee or poo anywhere close once they understand that.
Also, you can decide to keep the food and water bowls inside the crate. That’s another way to familiarize them with the place.
HELPFUL FACT: This is also an excellent way to introduce the crate to your dog, as it will start to relate the crate to a home more than a place to evacuate.
#6. Raise the Temperature
This is mostly true for winter seasons and places that get cold at night. Even dogs struggle to get off their beds when temperatures get truly low. Plus, low temperatures cause their bodies to evacuate their pee faster, just as it happens with humans.
You can fix this in many ways, but the best option is raising temperatures. Maintaining warm temperatures keeps your dog from wanting to go pee too often.
DON’T FORGET: This happens a lot with young puppies who are both lazier and less likely to walk outside at night. If you hear your puppy whining in the middle of the night, it could be a sign that he wants to go to the bathroom but feels uncomfortable doing so.
#7. Train your Dog
Is there anything more effective than training your dog in the first place? Potty training goes a long way…
When your dog hasn’t learned where to pee, the crate may feel like the perfect place for that.
Also, it could be happening that your dog is actually trained, but the opposite way. They know that pooping and peeing inside the crate helps them get out. And sure enough, they will do it on purpose as a consequence (yes, dogs can be that smart).
The solution to this problem is to train your dog to pee in the right place. Using positive reinforcement (treats and petting) when they pee correctly and negative reinforcement (a simple “NO!” and forcing your dog out) work pretty well.
If needed, you can always hire a behaviorist or dog trainer for this. It may cost a bit of money, but it will take a lot less effort and time to potty-train your dog.
BY THE WAY: Don’t ever rub your dog’s nose in the pee. This causes anxiety and doesn’t teach anything more than aggressiveness (your dog will actually be confused and afraid of you instead of peeing in the wrong place). As a consequence, your dog may develop trickier behaviors.
#8. Set a Peeing Routine
While we could include it in the training advice, it’s a whole method in itself. Knowing WHEN to take your dog out to pee is essential.
This goes hand-in-hand with eating. Your dog is more likely to go pee and poo close to feeding time (30 to 60 minutes after). You can use that as an excuse to take your dog out.
Either way, make sure the times you take your dog out are ALWAYS the same. Your dog will form a habit and hold its pee/poop to these times when you get him out.
VITAL FACT: Dogs learn routines pretty quickly, especially if going to pee outside comes with playing and positive reinforcements.
#9. Don’t Change Feeding Times
If you feed your dog at different times throughout the day, building a routine becomes a lot harder. The habit won’t be there, and your dog will more likely pee and poo whenever and wherever it wants.
You can avoid this by keeping the feeding time in the same hours. Preferably early in the morning as you wake up or before going to work, and later in the night when you arrive home or before bed.
CRITICAL PART: Avoid pushing your dog to eat or drink WHEN YOU WANT. While many dogs will eat any food your put in front of them at any moment, some dogs won’t. If that happens, adjust the routine accordingly, and it may help with the peeing too.
#10. Beware of Your Dog’s Schedule
You may not think about it, but your dog has its own routines and habits. This includes a schedule where it goes to pee and poop.
We recommend noting when your dog is more likely to go defecate. You will eventually notice the hours repeat, mainly if you feed your dog at the same time every day.
Also, realize that dogs can hold their pee if need be – but there’s a threshold. If your dog has to hold the pee for too long (over 8-10 hours), they are more likely to eventually pee wherever they need to.
As a general rule, help your dog take a pee every 8 hours or less. Puppies will need to pee a lot more than that (often every 4 hours or so).
INTERESTING FACT: Dogs shouldn’t spend more than 12 hours in a crate. After that, they will eventually form new habits around the place they spend time on (their crate).
#11. Exercise Consistently
Don’t let your dog become too lazy, as it may eventually take that laziness to pee. Dogs that spend too much time doing nothing are more likely to pee wherever they see fit.
Taking your dog out consistently to take a walk, play, and meet other dogs saves a lot of unwanted peeing behavior.
As your dog walks out and smells another dog’s urine, his instincts hit. He’d like to pee out.
As your dog exerts effort, gets tired, and is a bit excited, he automatically feels more desire to pee.
And as your dog gets active and feels less caged, he’ll have fewer issues peeing where it’s supposed to.
TO NOTE: While dogs exercise, they also build habits. If being physically active pushes the dog to pee, the habit will slowly but surely fall in line.
#12. Check Treats and Foods
You may not realize it, but the food and treats your dog is consuming may cause incontinence. They could also push your dog to pee a lot more than they often do.
This is especially true for foods dogs don’t process well, like peanut butter, milk, and processed foods with tons of liquids.
ALSO IMPORTANT: Try to stick to one food only and not change it unless you spot any problem, or the veterinarian tells you so. Also, pick treats as safely as you can – avoiding overly processed human foods.
#13. Look for Signs of Anxiety
Psychological issues like anxiety and fear may also push dogs to pee in their crate. In fact, dogs with anxiety disorders tend to have a more challenging time holding their pee, so they may actually do so everywhere.
Crates that are too small may cause anxiety. Stressors like loud noises and other animals may also produce fear. And if your dog is particularly anxious (due to trauma or recent events), this is more likely to happen.
You can treat your dog with anxiety by taking away stressors and petting your dog. Try to also be close to your dog, so it doesn’t feel alone.
NECESSARY PART: Believe it or not, dogs may also suffer from claustrophobia. Even if the crate feels large enough, they may get stressed with the enclosure.
#14. Look for Health Issues
You may not realize it yet, but your dog may also be suffering from health problems. Many could cause issues like incontinence or difficulty walking, going to pee in the right place.
If you suspect something like this could be happening, don’t hesitate and take your dog to the veterinary. Unless you’re a dog medic yourself, a professional is always the best way to diagnose and heal your dog.
Having said that, here are some health issues your dog could be experiencing:
- Muscle or Nerve Issues
Diseases like degenerative myelopathy or myasthenia cause issues that make dogs unable to walk or move normally. The pain is often so unbearable they’ll end up peeing anywhere they can.
- Infections (UTIs)
When their peeing apparatus hurt or simply doesn’t work as it should, there’s a chance your dog won’t pee where it should. This could make him pee inside the crate. Things like parvovirus and tapeworms often cause incontinence and loss of control in their private area.
- Old Age
When dogs get old, they have a harder time controlling holding their pee. Be it weaker muscles or chronic conditions, the reasons abound – but old age is almost always the primary cause of that. Sadly, this doesn’t have many solutions.
#15. Keep Peeing Areas Open
It’s probably obvious for most people but… are you even letting your dog pee outside the crate?
If the dog can’t go out to the lawn or garden to do its necessities, it will be more likely to peen when it feels comfortable (like the crate).
We also know letting the door open for your dog to go pee is not always the best idea – especially if you must keep your dog in the crate for long. That’s why using training pads may get the job done.
Keep the training pad for the dog to pee on inside the crate, and you may solve the issue. Once you take the training pad out, your dog will be more likely to pee on that.
WORTH KNOWING: Many trainers use these pads to teach dogs the correct potty behavior. While not perfect, using one of these in the crate may work (the smell is surprisingly effective).
#16. Use Pet Diapers
For dogs with difficult-to-cure conditions or just too old to train, you may want to use pet diapers instead.
Your dog won’t necessarily stop peeing inside the crate – but it won’t pee the crate or anything below anymore. The diapers will absorb everything.
It is not a perfect solution but gets the job done.
DON’T DISMISS: Dogs hate wearing things close to their skin and their lower parts. The discomfort may cause your dog to take the diaper out or chew it away. Only use this as a last resort.
#17. Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone
Finally, dogs may pee in the crate by mere separation anxiety. Their emotions enter a rollercoaster to the point they can’t hold their pee anymore. When this happens, they will obviously pee wherever they are – including their crate.
This may happen more to young puppies than old dogs – but it happens.
To avoid that, we recommend leaving the dogs with other dogs if possible. You can also sign up the dog for daycare. And if possible, just keep the dog with another human – a sitter, friend, or family who knows the animal.
SURPRISING FACTOR: Your dog is less likely to misbehave (pee in the crate) if he’s being watched. Consider this as a great way to keep your dog in check.
There are so many ways to stop your puppy peeing in crate… so there’s no excuse to let your dog keep doing the same thing over and over.
Every piece of advice above will solve a specific problem with your dog. There are 17 possible solutions to 17 reasons (likely a few more) that your dog is peeing inside the crate.
So, are you ready to stop the bad behavior once and for all? Then put those strategies to work right away and teach your dog some manners!
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
Apart from writing on Canine Weekly, I share my views on Twitter and Linkedin.