When crate training a dog, some owners find their pup chronically pooping in the crate. There may be a few simple fixes to this, but this could also be an indication of something being wrong medically or emotionally with the dog.
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First thing to do is pay attention to your dog's poop. For example, if the stool is loose, then the dog may have a health problem and may not be able to hold it in. Consult with a vet to find an underlying problem condition that is causing your dog to go so frequently.
If their poop is normal, then your dog pooping in crate may simply be the result of improper training, incorrect dog crate size, instilling bad habits or a number of other possible causes. Below are the ten reasons why dogs do this and how to stop a dog from pooping in a crate.
10 Ways to Stop a Dog Pooping in a Crate
1. Proper Potty Training
Your dog might be pooping in a crate because they don't know any better. Before crating a dog for an extended period of time, your pet needs to be housebroken and have the time they're used to going to the bathroom. Crates can still be used while you're in the process of house training a dog, but for only short periods of time.
2. Crate Stay Duration
Housebroken dogs have their scheduled times for bathroom breaks. When you crate your dog, make sure the time does not interfere with the dog's bathroom-walk schedule. You should never keep the dog in a crate for too long. Despite the myth, dogs are not den animals and some do not prefer to stay in them, especially for an overlong time.
The age of your dog will also be a factor here. Adult dogs can hold it in longer than puppies. The recommended maximum time for a dog to stay in crate is up to 4 hours for puppies under 4 months old, up to 5 hours for puppies around 6 months of age, and up to 6-8 hours for adult dogs.
Plenty of exercise benefits a crated dog in more than one way. It tires out the dog so they are less likely to whine, misbehave and poop in a crate; they simply go to sleep instead. Regular walks, playtime and exercise also helps the dog's mind to connect routines, and potty habits fall in line with the other routines such as walks and meals.
Other than any other health issues, the dog may poop in a crate because something causes him anxiety. Crate anxiety is real and not all dogs can tolerate crates due to claustrophobic fear of confinement and/or solitude. After you place your pet in a crate, watch out for signs of stress. If any distress is present, that often leads to peeing and pooping uncontrollably. Diarrhea is another symptom of anxiety in dogs.
5. Feeding Times
Routine is crucial for dogs, so feed your dog at the same times throughout the day, and make sure you are relating it directly to time spent in the crate. Many dogs tend to eliminate waste about 30-60 minutes after their meals, so refrain from putting your pet in a crate sooner than that post-meal bowel movement. You should also refrain from keeping food in the crate until after you are confident your dog can “hold it” for long enough.
6. Dog Food and Treats
Make sure the food and treats you are feeding to the dog are agreeing with his stomach. Some dog foods and treats may upset a dog's stomach, cause diarrhea or otherwise mess with a dog's bathroom schedule. If you're leaving a peanut butter stuffed KONG toy in the crate, and your dog won't stop pooping in crate, then peanut butter could be the cause.
Some dogs come to understand that they can poop in the crate and then cover it up with a blanket. If this is the case, and you're using dog blankets in your pet's crate, it's best to remove the blanketing until the dog learns that laying in their own mess is not the ideal way to spend time in a crate.
Even if you follow all crate training rules, make sure your dog isn’t training you instead (i.e. manipulating you). Some dogs learn that after pooping in a crate, they are allowed out. If you suspect this to be the issue, consult a professional behaviorist to discourage the dog from this behavior. Positive reinforcement and redirection will be used in this case to stop a dog from pooping a crate.
9. Crate Size
Dog crates must be chosen based on a dog's age and size. Refer to a dog crate sizing chart to choose the right one. The reason for this is because when a crate is too large, dogs may treat part of it like backyard – poop in one side, and sleep in the other. Small crates may be uncomfortable, and cause stress or anxiety in the dog, which may result in pooping.
10. Health Issues
If you have exhausted all the other techniques and possibilities, bring your dog to the veterinarian for a health check-up to make sure there isn’t a medical issue causing this problem. Your vet will also be able to advise you on food options if that might be the cause of what is causing the inappropriate pooping habits of your dog.
When Nothing Else Works
If you've ruled out that the cause is not medical and the above methods and techniques do not stop your puppy pooping a crate, the only way to solve this problem is going to be with training that requires more time and patience. During this time, you may need some supplies to decrease the “damage” done by your dog's poop.
Training Pads. Get yourself some training pads to lay them out in the crate. This is a temporary solution but will help to deal with poop in the crate. They're primarily designed for dog's urine but can still help by absorbing some feces and locking in the smell, helping you to contain the mess and make the cleaning process easier.
Pet Diapers. An appropriately sized set of pet diapers can also help temporarily as they're commonly used in puppies and senior dogs with incontinence. Note that most dogs will not feel comfortable wearing diapers so this should be used as the last resort and for a short period of time only.
Dog Daycare. A better solution than keeping your dog in a crate with feces is paying for a dog daycare. If the reason you're crating a dog is because you're leaving the house, then leaving them in a daycare while the puppy goes through basic training may be a more humane solution.
Dog Sitter. Similar to using dog daycare, if you can afford a dog sitter that can spend time with your dog and take them out for bathroom breaks while you're away is a much better solution. You can book a dog walker for specific times during the day and there's plenty of easy-to-use apps and services for your convenience.
Finally, a few tools that can help you temporarily deal with dog pooping in crate are trays that you can place in the crate (ideally with pee pads in them) and pet odor eliminators which contain enzymes to discourage the dog from eliminating themselves. Below are some of the best products for this problem.
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