How to Train Your Dog to Not Poop in His Crate

Easy
1-3 Weeks
General

Introduction

You’ve brought the cutest little puppy into your home, he fits snugly in your hands and he forces even the grumpiest of individuals into a smile. While he is adorable and everything you imagined he would be, you don’t enjoy coming downstairs in the morning to the smell of excrement. It just isn’t the way you want to start your day! It might be manageable if it was just once in the morning, but when you’re regularly greeted by the sight of a stool when you open his crate, then well, something needs to be done.

Apart from the obvious offense to your eyes and your nose, having all that bacteria sit next to your puppy isn’t good for his health. Puppies immune systems are vulnerable and having excrement in the place where he sleeps only increases the chance of him contracting an illness.

Defining Tasks

Every puppy goes through a transitional stage when they move into a new home and get used to their crate, so going about his business in there isn’t uncommon. Thankfully, training him not to defecate in his crate is relatively straightforward. While you will need to use some straightforward obedience commands, training centers more around adjusting his environment and creating a routine.

Puppies are so receptive when they’re young that they quickly get the hang of training and many dogs stop going about their business in their crate in just a few days. Even if he does prove slightly stubborn, you can expect results in a matter of weeks. 

Getting this training right is essential for the health of your dog. You don’t want him picking up early illnesses and you definitely don’t want the hefty vet bills that come with medical problems.

Getting Started

Before your toilet campaign kicks off, there are several things you will need to get hold of. A leash will be essential as you introduce your dog to his new outdoor toilet. You will also need treats or his favorite food to incentivize and reward him.

A quiet place, free from distractions where he feels relatively comfortable will also be required. You may also need to invest in a new, better-sized crate for one of the methods below and some new bedding.

Once you have collected the above, set aside some time each day and just come with a can-do attitude and you’ll be ready to get to work!

The Crate Alterations Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
The right size
Head over to your crate and make sure it is the right size. If his crate is too big then your dog may feel there is enough space to defecate in the corner rather than going outside. The crate should be big enough for him to stand up and turn around in, but it shouldn’t be much bigger.
Step
2
A new crate
If your crate is too big, order a smaller one online or head to a local pet store to buy a new one. Measure the crate before you go and have an idea of what sized crate you need before you head out to make a purchase. Often a simple crate change can stop the habit on its tracks.
Step
3
Feed him his meals in the crate
This may seem odd at first, but dogs don’t want to go to the toilet in the same place they eat. So place his bowl in the crate and leave the door open. It usually takes just a day or two before he will associate his crate with an eating area and will look elsewhere to defecate.
Step
4
Change the crate bedding
Introduce some new blankets and bedding into the crate. Dogs don’t usually like going to the toilet in an area they enjoy sleeping in. If he currently poops and hides it under the bedding, remove the bedding altogether. Not having somewhere to hide it may well deter him from defecating there in future.
Step
5
Deal with accidents promptly
If he can smell previous stools, he will feel more comfortable going to the toilet there again. So quickly remove him and clean the area thoroughly with antibacterial spray. You don’t want him associating his crate with a suitable toilet area.
Recommend training method?

The Consistent Schedule Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Meal routine
Feed him meals at the same time each day. By creating a regular schedule, you will be able to predict when he will need to go to the toilet, enabling you to remove him from the crate before he gets a chance to go.
Step
2
Take him out regularly
This is particularly necessary for puppies who need to be let out every hour if they are under 12 weeks old. It is always worth taking him out within 20 minutes of him eating a meal as this is the time the bowels are stimulated.
Step
3
Head back home
If they do not go to the toilet as expected, take him in for 15 minutes and then head back out. If you know a number 2 is likely to be imminent, don’t be put off if he doesn’t go straight away, simply head back out again promptly. It is crucial you always have your dog outside when he needs to go, this will get him into a habit of only going outside.
Step
4
Timing
As your puppy gets older, increase the time between taking him out. When he is about 6 months old he will only need to go outside every 3-4 hours. Ensure this still ties in with taking him out after meals. This will slowly train his body clock to tie in with your toilet schedule and soon he won’t ever need a number 2 when he is in his crate anyway.
Step
5
Never punish
Don’t punish him when he does defecate in his crate. Dogs do not respond well when they are terrified. He may even start defecating in his crate out of fear, so simply take him out of the crate when he does have an accident, clean the mess up thoroughly and return him.
Recommend training method?

The Postive & Negative Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Be treat ready
Arm yourself with treats whenever you take him outside. To start with, you need to be prepared to shower him with praise and treats whenever he doesn’t go to the toilet in his crate.
Step
2
Reward promptly
When you’re outside, give him a treat within 3 seconds of finishing his business. It is important he gets the treat as quickly as possible otherwise he won’t associate the treat with going to the toilet. Also make sure you don’t stare at him waiting for him to go, puppies in particular will be nervous to start with and need to feel comfortable to go about their business.
Step
3
Lose the treats
As he starts to poop outside regularly, slowly reduce the frequency of treats. When you are confident he is getting the hang of the toilet training, it’s important you reduce the treats and praise, you don’t want him piling on the pounds!
Step
4
'NO'
When you see him about to poo in his crate, say ‘NO’ loudly and firmly. Use your body language and voice to convey your disapproval, but be careful not to overdo it, you don’t want to terrify him. Only do this if you catch him about to go to the toilet, if you tell him off hours after the deed he won’t make the connection between the behavior and your angry response.
Step
5
React swiftly
Take him out until he has have gone about his business. As soon as he has, be sure to praise and reward him as part of the positive reinforcement outlined in the steps above. Using a combination of both positive and negative reinforcements will quickly teach him where it is and isn’t acceptable to go to the toilet. His days of going to the toilet in his crate will soon be over!
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Neeko
Collie Pyrenees
13 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Neeko
Collie Pyrenees
13 Weeks

Neeko poos and wee’s in his crate. He also cries whenever we go out. He also pulls on his lead when walking and hate roads.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Simi, First, know that most dogs will need to poop between 10-45 minutes after eating, even if they just peed right before eating. If you take them too soon or wait too late that can lead to a crate accident. Also, while awake, the maximum amount of time a dog can hold their pee for is the number of months they are in age plus one; so at three months old, pup will need to go potty at least every 3-4 hours. To potty train and when you are home, pup should be taken out twice as often as their maximum amount of time - meaning that pup should be going outside every 1.5-2 hours to go potty when you are home and be left without a potty trip any longer than 3-4 hours when you need to work. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. 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. 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 puppies 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. For the crying while away, practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate For the pulling on leash, check out the Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel For the road fear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMRsUnYezY8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMafvtewq94 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Emmitt
German Shepherd
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Emmitt
German Shepherd
9 Months

We have been trying to potty train him for 6 months now. We take him outside regularly, but he keeps defecating in his crate. He sleeps in his crate at night and is in there while we are at work, I take him out in the mornings and on my lunch break and he’s out all evening with us when we’re home. He goes outside before bed as well. When I have taken him out in the middle of the night, he does not go to the bathroom, he just chases bugs. Then when we wake up in the morning (roughly 3-4 hours later) he has gone to the bathroom in his crate. We have been doing treat training, we use a spray in his crate and around it(suppose to keep them from defecating in a certain spot), and he has been on the same feeding/bathroom schedule since we first got him. We have to give him a bath maybe twice a week (which I’ve heard is not good on German shepherd’s fur) because he lays in his mess. This is my second german shepherd, my first one was potty trained within a month after having him, but emmitt is a lot more difficult. He also does not listen when we tell him no, he does whatever he wants even if we get on to him for it multiple times. Do you have any advice to help us out? We are desperate.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kelsey, First, I would also involve your vet in the conversation to make sure there isn't something causing a form of incontinence complicating matters since you have been trying for so long. At this point, I would actually move away from using the crate. I would set up a really sturdy exercise pen somewhere like a mudroom, guest bathroom, ect...Some smaller room without carpet or rugs but still decent temperature and air control. Don't set the exercise up in a main area of the house like the den or kitchen if you have other options. Check out the Tethering method from the article linked below. Follow that method when home if pup is having accidents while you are home. 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. You can also get larger grass pads and combine multiple to cover a bigger area for a bigger dog. If you are setting things up in a bathroom and there is a walk in shower. I would prop that door open and put part of them in the shower, then phase out the ones not in the shower gradually, so pup is peeing in the shower to control mess until pup is trained to only go potty 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

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Question
Cooper
Beagle
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cooper
Beagle
8 Months

Our beagle has no problem going outside very often. More often then out younger and smaller dachshunds. However we work nightshift 8 hours and lately everytime we come home there's a mess of poo in the kennel. We always keep it clean, feed in the kennel on the same schedule, no bedding,and same schedule of coming home and letting all dogs outside. There are also no health issues whatsoever. Nothing had changed and we sont know what else to do to prevent messes at night.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jacob, I would look at pup's daytime pooping habits. I would go outside with pup every time they go potty (if you are not already - like if pup is just being let out into a fence), then watch pup to see if pup is pooping 2-3 times during the day and what the consistency of it is. If the consistency is normal, but pup isn't pooping at least two times during the daytime, the issue is probably pup getting distracted and holding it until nighttime, at which point they go in the kennel when they can no longer hold it and things are calm. I would take pup outside to go potty on leash for a while in this case. Walk pup around slowly on leash for 15 minutes telling pup "Go Potty", reward pup with one small treat if pup pees, then repeat walking pup around for that long again and telling pup to "Go Potty" and rewarding pup with five pieces/treats and praise if pup poops also. Expect pup to need to poop at least one during the morning, once early evening, and maybe in the afternoon. You can also purchase a potty encouraging spray like "Hurry!" and spray it on the area pup goes potty too right before taking pup outside. The combination of teaching Go Potty, keeping pup moving at a slow steady pace where sniffing around is encouraged, keeping pup focused instead of off playing or rushing back inside, and a smell that encourages pup to go, can all help pup do their business while outside, instead of holding it until night. I would also try moving pup's dinner a bit earlier in the evening, and maybe speaking with your vet about adding something like a probiotic or pumpkin to pup's food if they need help with regularity. I am not a vet though so ask your vet. If the pooping continues or you find pup is pooping often enough during the day, I would set up a camera to spy on pup at night, or watch pup on your off day at night, to find out whether pup is waking and pooping, crying and protesting the crate or your departure and that's leading to the pooping, or pooping while asleep. If pup is truly asleep and pooping in their sleep, I would get a second vet opinion on their health. Make sure you clean the crate thoroughly with a cleaner that contains enzymes also. Only enzymes will fully remove the smells from the accidents to the degree to which a dog can't still smell it with their sensitive nose. You need the crate to smell clean to pup to help encourage pup to hold it. If the issue continues, there are adjustments that can be made, so check back, with a reminder of what's going on and what you have already tried, but I would look into pup's pooping frequency during the daytime first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ace
French Bulldog
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ace
French Bulldog
4 Months

I’m having a very hard time stopping ace from pooping in his crate. He usually pee outside with no problem. He will go to the door when it’s time to pee or bark. It’s only the popping I’m having a problem with

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vanessa, First, know that most dogs will need to poop between 10-45 minutes after eating, even if they just peed right before eating. If you take them too soon or wait too late that can lead to a crate accident. Check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. 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. 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 puppies 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

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Question
Coconut
Chihuahua
3 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Coconut
Chihuahua
3 Months

Hi!

The problem in general is : Mr. Coconut (or Poopoonut) poops every night in his crate and roll himself in his own poop 2 to 3 times a night.

Here is what we tried :

1. To give him just enough space so he can lay down and turn around by separating the crate with a separator. But he still poop himself even though the space is REALLY limited.

2. To put him a blanket and soft toy in his crate, with just enough space in the crate so he can turn around and lay down. But, When there is a blanket in the crate, he poops and hides it under and Pee on the blanket.

3. We try to potty train him with peepee pads. During the day, when he goes to pee on the pads, we give him a treat and HUGE positive reinforcement. The pad gets closer to the door every day, so when he will go on it we will just bring him outside to do his business. So, for the night, we tried to remove the separation in the crate, put a peepee pad in one end so he can go defecate on the pad and sleep in the other area, but he just poops were he wants in the crate and rolls himself in it.

During the day, every time our other dog wants to go outside by asking at the door, we bring Coconut outside with is sister. When he poops or pees outside, we give him a treat and positive reinforcement like : “Good Job Coconut! Peepee outside! Bravo! Good boy. Peepee outside!”

The day is really not a problem. Just the night. I’m stressed because I’m going back to work next week, so I won’t have the time to wash the crate (and Coconut) every morning before work.

Help please?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jonathan, I would start by setting up an exercise pen and disposable real grass pad covering the area. It won't solve the main issue but you need to stop the association with the crate and going potty in there or it will make using the crate later in life much harder. A larger area like the exercise pen is also less likely to lead to pup rolling in it - although pup might intentionally do so. Finally, since your goal is outside potty training, I would avoid pee pads. The grass pads are less likely to lead to accidents on rugs, carpet and other fabric inside that resembles pee pads to pup - so the future outcome is better with grass pads. Disposable real grass pad brands: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Second, peeing at night is common at this age, but pooping at night often has to do with pup either being too distracted to poop enough during the day - then holding it until it's calm and night, at which point they go potty while crate, or pup being fed dinner too close to bedtime (try moving pup's dinner time back if you can with your schedule), or a digestive issue that's causing pup to need to poop more than 3 times per day. This might be a sensitivity to their food, parasite, or many other things. I would speak with your vet if pup is pooping more often than 3 times in 24 hours or the poop is super soft or watery. If pup's pooping frequency and consistency is normal, then I would work on getting pup to poop more often during the day so pup is less likely to need to poop at night. Check out the tethering and schedule method from the article I have linked below. I would utilize the tips on timing, using a scent spray, walking pup on leash to stimulate the urge to go with movement and prevent distraction, offering a second potty opportunity after pup pees by walking pup around again, and teaching Go Potty - rewarding with treats when pup goes. Check out the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below. The initial steps to get pup used to the pen and going potty on the grass pad can be used. If you want pup going outside ultimately, you won't phase out the pen though, you will just use the pen when you are away and at night and take pup outside during the day. If you decide to have pup use an indoor potty long term, you can follow all of the steps for indoor potty training too. The method mentions a doggie litter box but this method can be used with grass pads and most indoor potty types also. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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