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How to Train Your Dog to Not Pee in His Crate

How to Train Your Dog to Not Pee in His Crate
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon3-14 Days
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

You were eagerly awaiting his arrival for many weeks and you’ve loved welcoming this cute ball of fur into your home. He was so small when he first arrived you could fit him in your hands. He was soon growing quickly though and as advised, you keep him in a crate. However, he sees his crate as more than just his own space to escape to, he also uses it as a toilet. You can’t count how many times you have come down in the morning to the unpleasant odor of urine.

Training him not to pee in his crate will do more than save you from having to clean his bedding and cover his crate in anti-bacterial spray. Training him not to pee in his crate will also improve his quality of life. Nobody, including dogs, likes to sleep in the same space they go to the toilet.

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Defining Tasks

Training a dog not pee in his crate is relatively straightforward. Firstly, you will have to look at why he might be peeing in his crate. It is highly likely you will have to take a look at his toilet routine and introduce some changes. You may also want to look at the crate itself. It may be that his current crate is not quite the right fit for him. Throw in some incentives for peeing outside instead and you’ll soon have a crate free of pee.

He’s probably a puppy if he’s peeing in a crate, which is good news from a training perspective. He should be a fast learner, so you could see results in just a few days. If he’s a bit older and slightly more stuck in his ways then you may need a couple of weeks. Get this training right and you won’t have to worry about your children or other pets coming into regular contact with potentially harmful bacteria.

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Getting Started

Before your work can start you will need to gather a few bits. The first thing you may need is a new crate, of a different size. See the 'Environment Change' method below for details on what to look for. 

The main component in training though will be time. You, or somebody else, needs to be around enough to take him out regularly until he is in an established routine. Treats or his favorite food broken into small pieces will also be required.

Apart from that, you just need patience and some anti-bacterial spray, then work can begin!

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The Environment Change Method

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1

New crate

Take a look at his current crate. Does he have plenty of space in there? If so, his crate may be too big. He should be able to stand up and turn around, but he shouldn’t have too much more room than that. If he does, he may think he has space to go to the toilet too. So, change his crate if needs be.

2

Water bowls & food

It’s also important you do not leave his water bowl or food bowl in his crate. He needs to think of his crate as just for sleeping. If you get him used to going about his life in there, then it may feel natural to him to go to the toilet in there too.

3

Toys

Try leaving his toys in there in the day and at night time. Most dogs will not want to pee over their toys. So, simply putting them in there could deter him.

4

Leaving the crate

Try and encourage him to leave the crate in the daytime. Again, if you show him the crate is just for sleeping, he won’t want to pee in there. Plus, the less time he spends in there, the less he will pee in there and the less frequent the habit will become.

5

Never punish him

It is important you do not punish him if he does pee in there. Instead, calmly remove him and clean out the crate with anti-bacterial spray. Really try to totally remove the smell. If he can smell he has been for a pee in there before, he will be more likely to go again.

The Routine Method

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Rise & shine

Once you have woken up and given him his breakfast, leave him a few minutes and then take him out to go to for a pee. If he knows he is going to go at roughly the same time each morning, he will be more likely to hold it at night.

2

Lunch time

Take him out again at lunch time. If he knows he is going to get a chance to go each lunch, again he will find it easier to hold on.

3

Before bed

Once he’s had his dinner and you have waited a few minutes, secure him to a leash and take him back out to go for a pee again. Enforce this routine every day and his bladder will eventually fall into place. Consistency is key if you want swift results.

4

Same spot

Try and take him to the same location when you take him out for a pee. If he’s peed there before he will feel more relaxed and therefore more likely to go there again. You can even wipe some of yesterday’s pee there to make him feel more at ease.

5

Reward

It’s important he gets a reward and praise each time he goes for a pee outside his crate. Make sure he gets the treat within three seconds though, otherwise he won’t associate the action with the reward.

The Verbal Cue Method

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Head out regularly

Secure him to a leash and take him out several times each day. It’s important he gets into a routine of heading for the same spot. He will soon start thinking of that as his toilet. Make sure you have some treats in your pocket. You are going to teach him to go for a pee where you want with a verbal command.

2

‘Toilet time’

Whenever you see him about to go for a pee, issue a ‘toilet time’ command. Give it in a clear but upbeat voice. If you do this every time, he will soon start associating your command with needing to go for a pee.

3

Reward

Give him some privacy when he is actually peeing, then quickly go over and give him a treat. Over time, the command will signal to him that he gets a treat if he goes for a pee. You can also give him some high-pitched verbal praise. Dogs learn best when they think they are playing a big game.

4

Bring forward the command

After several days of giving the command just as he is peeing, you can then start giving it when you want to take him out for a pee. Simply grab a leash, issue the command and he will run to you so you can both head out.

5

Lose the treats

After a couple of weeks of using the command, without any accidents in his crate, you can slowly start to phase out the treats. By this point he will have broken his habit of peeing in the crate and he will be used to his new routine.

Written by James Barra

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/23/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Gracie

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Poodle

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Ten Weeks

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Question

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How often does she need to go out at night

Aug. 27, 2023

Gracie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, a puppy's ability to hold their bladder will be different while asleep versus awake, so if pup is waking up a lot, they will need to go out more often, if they stay asleep they will be able to hold it for longer. I would crate pup at night in a crate that's large enough to stand up, turn around, and lie down, but not so big they can go potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid the accident. The size will encourage pup to hold their bladder then cry to be let out when they need to go potty - which helps with potty training and learning to eventually sleep through the night (expect crying in the crate at first though - that's normal as they adjust). Don't put anything absorbent into the crate; instead, use something like primopads.com vinyl covered crate pads, to give cushion without absorbing pee. That will further discourage accidents in the crate. After pup falls asleep (likely some crying involved at first), then when they wake up, if it's been at least 2 hours since they last went potty, take them outside, keep the potty trip super boring without treats or play, then put them right back to bed in the crate (you don't want to give them any reasons for waking up other than the need to pee at night). If they don't wake after 2 hours, let them sleep, they may make it 4-5 if they stay asleep. Make sure you can hear them when they cry by either having the crate in your room or using an audio baby monitor if in another room. To help a puppy learn to sleep through the night as early as their bladder will let them, I don't recommend waking them for potty trips, but waiting until they wake on their own, UNLESS they are having accidents in the crate, are not crated, or you tend to sleep through their cries to go outside - in those cases, take them out every 2-3 hours at this age at night. Again, crating will help with more sleep and potty training to progress more quickly at this age, even though it will mean crying at first. Practice the methods from the article below during daytime hours to help pup get used to a crate sooner, so that they will be more comfortable at night in it. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Sept. 11, 2023

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Jameson

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Jack Russell Terrier

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18 Months

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Jameson keeps going pee in his kennel which is used while we are at work he is never in there for more than 4 hours and gets to go out immediately before going in the kennel and when he comes out. He does not do it every time.

July 2, 2021

Jameson's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brianne, Has pup always peed in the kennel or is this something that's recently begun after pup was thoroughly potty trained? If this is new, I would speak with your vet. It could be a sign of a medical issue like a uti. I am not a vet. If there is not a medical cause and this is not a recent development, check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below and see if you are following the tips for crate training found there. Make sure that the crate doesn't have anything absorbent in it - including a soft bed or towel, otherwise that may be why pup is going potty in there. Check out www.primopads.com if you need a non-absorbent bed for him. Make sure the crate is only big enough for him to turn around, lie down and stand up, and not so big that he can potty in one end and stand in the opposite end to avoid it. Dogs have a natural desire to keep a confined space clean so it needs to be the right size to encourage that natural desire. Use a cleaner that contains enzymes to clean any previous or current accidents - only enzymes will remove the smell and remaining smells encourage the dog to potty in the same location again later. Pay attention to the frequency of potty trips in the method below. If pup is having to hold it too long between potty trips, pup will be forced to go potty in the crate, and the more that happens the less motivated they will be to hold it in there. At this age pup should be able to hold it 4 hours if the crate is set up right so they are motivated. Also, go with pup outside when they are taken potty right before crating if you aren't already. Watch pup and be sure that they are fully using the bathroom and not just getting distracted then coming back inside, or marking a little and holding the rest of their urine. Those could also be the reason for the accidents. If you are giving pup large amount of water in the crate or right before crating pup, that could be another reason. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you are still struggling after applying the above suggestions, then unfortunately pup may have already lost his desire to hold it while in a confined space. This commonly happens when someone accidentally teaches pup to do so by placing something like a puppy pad on one end of a larger crate or confining a puppy in cage where they are forced to pee through wired flooring - like at a pet store and some shelters. There are rare pups who simply do it anyway, even though nothing happened to teach that. In those cases you can try feeding pup his meals in there to discourage it but most of the time you simply have to switch potty training methods until he is fully potty trained - at which point you might be able to use a crate for travel again later in life. Check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Whenever you are home, use the Tethering method. Also, set up an exercise pen in a room that you can close off access to later on (pup will learn it's okay to potty in this room so choose accordingly). A guest bathroom, laundry room, or master closet with good ventilation are a few options. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen if you have other options. Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below, and instead of a litter box like the article mentions, use a real grass pad to stay consistent with teaching pup to potty on grass outside - which is far less confusing than pee pads (Don't use pee pads if the end goal is pottying outside!). Since your goal is pottying outside only use the Exercise Pen at night and when you are not home. When pup will hold his bladder while in the rest of the house consistently and can hold it for as long as you are gone for during the day and overnight, then remove the exercise pen and grass pad completely, close off access to the room that the pen was in so he won't go into there looking to pee, and take him potty outside only. Since he may still chew longer even after potty training, when you leave him alone, be sure to leave him in a safe area that's been puppy proofed, like a cordoned off area of the kitchen with chew toys - until he is out of the destructive chewing phases too - which typically happens between 1-2 years for most dogs with the right training. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad brands - Also found on Amazon www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com You can also make your own out of a piece of grass sod cut up and a large, shallow plastic storage container. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 5, 2021


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