How do I stop a dog from pooping in its crate?

Tony: How to stop a dog from pooping in its crate?
My 13 week old Bernese Mountain dog puppy views her crate as her bathroom. Sometimes the puppy will go to the bathroom outside and after returning to the indoors will walk in to her crate and go again. My trainer is stumped on how to resovle this issue so any help would be great.
Bernese Mountain dog puppy
Photo Credit: Andrea.Pacheco/Flickr

Answers and Views:

Answer by brandy
It could be the crate is too big for your dog. A dog will not defecate where it sleeps. The crate should only be big enough for the dog to stand and turn around no bigger,if the dog can poop and find a spot away from it in the crate he will go in it.

Answer by Amy
Yes it will. I have a 4 month old and I will take her outside for about 20 minutes to let her use the bathroom. She won't do a thing. Then I bring her in and if I have to go somewhere, I will put her in kennel. When I come home, 20 min later she has pooped in her kennel and layed in it.

Answer by maxcastignetti

I had a similar problem with a border collie puppy when I was at dog training school. The solution required a number of approaches because unfortunately once a puppy defecates in their sleeping place more than a few times their natural inhibition against soiling their den is weakened if not lost altogether.

Here are the tactics I would try:

1. Either get a smaller crate or use some sort of empty box to block off some of the space in her existing crate. I really wouldn't be too concerned about making the crate too small as hopefully this will be very temporary.

2. Make sure any accidents in the crate are cleaned thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle.

3. Increase the frequency of the dog's potty breaks. An average 13 week old pup would need a break about every 3 hours. In your case I would cut it to 2.5 or even 2.

4. When you take the dog out go to the same spot every time, hold the dog on a leash and stand like a post. Do not make potty time a time for a walk. If the dog potties and you then want to walk, fine. If after 10 minutes the dog has not pottied, put her back in her crate. I would usually tell clients to then wait an hour before trying another 10 minute potty break, but in cases like yours I say three minutes (which I know sounds very tedious). Keep repeating 10 minutes staionary outside and 3 minutes in the crate until the job is done. When the dog does potty outside, praise enthusiastically and reward either with high value food (hot dog, chicken meat, etc) or a game of fetch etc.

5. Your mention of the dog pottying outside and then going again inside could have two causes. My border collie was famous for this and the cause turned out to be that she was afraid of pottying outside. (Pottying does put dogs in a vulnerable position.) The answer in her case was to find a place that was sheltered on three sides, had little foot or road traffic and to give her plenty of time to get comfortable with the spot. The other possibility is that your dog just needs more time to potty. If that is the case you may have to adjust the ten minute guideline I gave above.

One cautionary note: do NOT take your dog on a walk, wait for her to potty and then walk home. The dog will learn that pottying ends the walk and will then hold out as long as possible. Make pottying the price of a walk – to be paid up front.

Good luck. I hope this works for you.

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  1. amber_tree says

    Although you're frustrated, crate training is the best way to go. Remember that she is only 13 weeks. It took me 5 weeks to potty train my puppy, and that was through crate training. Please be patient. I had to resolve it by putting her in at 30 minute intervals. Eventually, it sank in.
    Depending how long you're keeping her in the crate & the circumstances when you put her in the crate & the size of the crate & whether or not other dogs are around, it's hard to tell what is going on. All of these play a part in her training.
    You're on the right track & good luck to you and your new friend!

  2. Christine says

    House training is one of the first tasks that every new dog owner will undertake in the introduction of their puppy to its new home. There are three categories of house training types :
    a) Basic house training ; the establishment of an allowable toilet area for your pet.
    b) Submissive wetting ; urination occurring when greeting, disciplining or high excitement.
    c) Marking ; upon reaching puberty - some dogs (male or female) will mark their territory.
    House Training :
    House training should only take approximately two weeks to establish as a routine provided;
    a) you must be consistent and committed
    b) you are prepared to train your pet from the moment you take possession. Have a leash, collar, a designated area and are prepared to maintain a schedule.
    Retraining a dog that has already established bad habits can take six weeks or more.

    As soon as possible get your new puppy to the vet for a complete check-up. This will assure you that you have obtained a healthy pup and alert you to any medical complications that can make house training more difficult. Situations such as intestinal upset, intestinal parasites and urinary tract infections can make house training difficult to impossible.

    The designated toilet area can be as general as outside of the house or as specific as a particular corner of the backyard. You must have a specific plan as to what the designated area is going to be. You can not teach the dog what is acceptable if you are uncertain.

    Your attitude is one of the most important ingredients in house training your dog. Your puppy does not know what is wrong. If there is a mistake tell him "no" but do not discipline too severely. You only want him to know that you are displeased, you do not want the pup to feel that you are the source of pain. When the pup has done well, pat him, praise him, let the dog know that you are very pleased. The pup will want to do things that please you. House training can be a foundation for all future training. Affection and praise as a reward for proper response - "no" signaling displeasure and guidance to show the dog what you do want.

    1. Create a schedule that is practical for you to maintain. If you can not stick to your schedule - you can't expect the dog to adhere to it.
    2. Do not allow your dog to free feed until house training is well established. Be very careful of your dogs diet - avoid foods and/or snacks that can be upsetting to his digestive tract.
    3. Schedule your dog's bed time and waking-up time. Adhere to these times as closely as possible.
    4. Young pups will require frequent nap times, be sure that your schedule can accommodate the pup's naps. Remember that the pup will need to be taken outside after each nap.
    5. Emotional intensity - after intense emotional stimulation (badly scared, frightened, or a particularly rowdy play session) the pup may need to relieve himself.
    6. Within two to three days, most dogs will be able to "control themselves" for eight hours during the night. You must keep in mind that your daytime schedule will need to be somewhat flexible. By paying attention to your dog, you will learn his nap requirements. Your dog will learn "the routine" and you will both have a schedule that you can live with.

    Supervise in the House :
    1. By knowing where your dog is at all times, and what he is doing, you can avoid mistakes. When a pup stops playing and starts to look around for a "good spot", he needs to go out. By observing your dog you will quickly learn to tell the difference between the pup's exploring his new universe and his searching for a "good location".
    2. If the pup starts to make a mistake, firmly but quietly say "No" and take the dog straight to his toilet area. Do not yell at the dog. Do not chase the dog. At this point it is up to you to be observant of your dog. Any mistakes that are made are due to your not paying attention.
    3. If you can not supervise the dog for a period of time, put the dog in a confinement area (prepared with papers) or confine him to the room where you are.
    4. When you are relaxing (watching TV, reading or on computer), have the dog with you. Give the pup some of his toys to play with. Have the dog on his leash or confine him to the room where you are, so that he doesn't wander of and have an accident. Teach him that it can be enjoyable just being with you.

    When you can't be with your dog:
    1. Provide a small area confinement area (bathroom with all "chewable" items removed, fenced off area of the garage, or a crate).
    2. Do not leave food and water with the dog, or fill him with cookies or snacks before you leave. You should schedule the pup's breakfast to be at least 2 hours before your planned departure time. That way the pup can eat, digest his food and relieve himself prior to your departure.
    3. Ideally, if you are going to be gone for more than eight hours, someone should give the dog a drink and an opportunity to relieve himself.

    Taking the dog out (to the latrine) :
    1. Take your dog on leash to the designated toilet area. Stand quietly, so that the dog can find the right spot. Do not distract the dog. Do not praise the dog during his search. If after about 5 minutes your dog hasn't gone to the bathroom, return him to the house (keeping a close eye on him) for about 1/2 hour, then try again.
    2. As the dog starts to relieve himself; calmly praise him. Use a chosen word or phrase (good potty or wonderful potty). This phrase will only be used for praise in going potty.
    3. When the dog has finished relieving himself praise him more enthusiastically. Let him know that you are very proud of him.
    4. Remember your dog's routine. Some dogs will "potty" two or three times per outing in the morning, but only twice per outing in the evening. Urination is often followed by defecation, while other dogs will do the reverse.
    5. Even. if the weather is foul, do not let your dog know that you don't want to be going outside with him. By teaching your dog that even in bad weather going outside is "the thing to do", to please you, then he will be more willing to convey his needs to you.
    6. While you are learning your dog's "time table", take him out immediately after he wakes up, after he has eaten and after all play sessions.

    Catching the dog "in the act" :
    1. Without yelling, firmly say "No". If you still don't have the dog's attention, clap your hands.
    2. Get the dog outside, to the designated latrine area. If the dog relieves himself outside praise him. Proceed with the potty routine.
    3. Clean the mess with a deodorizing or odor killing cleanser. If the dog smells his own scent as having been used as a bathroom area, the dog will continue to use the area.
    If the cleanser is not able to eliminate enough of the scent so that the dog can not detect it, you can help mask the scent over with vanilla extract. Just one or two drops will make it impossible for the dog to smell any lingering odor.

    If you find a mess after the fact :
    1. Do not punish the dog.
    2. Accept the fact that you were not paying attention to the dog.
    3. Do not show the dog that you are upset. Calmly put the dog on his leash and bring him to the location of the accident. With the dog at your side, firmly scold the potty. Do not scold the dog.
    4. Blot up some urine, or pick up some stool with a piece of paper. Take the evidence and the dog to the latrine area. Place the paper on the ground and with the dog watching praise the potty for being in the "right" place. Temporarily leave the paper there. (Remove it when the dog isn't watching)
    5. Clean up the remaining mess in the house as outlined above.

  3. kanarain says

    Tony, k9rescue has the correct way of training your new pup. I have tried many methods and if you have to crate train then this is a better way. My choice has always been to teach them outdoors, with a simple hurry-up several times, keeping them on a short leash, and going to the area you want them to permenantly use. By keeping them on a short leash they only have a small area and with a little jerk up on the leash and the hurry-ups they soon catch on, go potty and alot of praise and right back into the house. Using the leg of the couch, computer desk, ect; places where you and or family members can keep an eye on him/her, use the handle on a short leash and hook it under the legs of funiture, I have even used my bed legs before. After the pup has successfully pottied outside then try placing him near you like this. He wont be able to sniff around and have an accident but still can get up and move around as if he was in a created area. Get the picture? I have trained over 12 standard poodles this was and with great success in about 3 weeks tops.Good Luck

  4. MEB says

    I don't know how big the crate is compared to your dog, but maybe it's too big. If the dog has enough room to poop in one corner and still sleep in another, the crate's too big. Small dogs also have absolutely no control over having to go. You need to assume that the dog needs to do #1 and #2 everytime you take it out. Puppies typically have to go every 30 minutes, and especially after they eat, sleep, or play. You need to be patient when you take the dog out to do it's business. Praise it and get it a treat immediately after it goes outside (because puppies only have a 3 second memory) and tell the dog it's bad immediately after it goes inside. It's very little so it's still just learning. Housetraining can take a while depending on the age of the dog, so you need to be patient.

  5. k9rescue says

    You can resolve the issue this way.

    1. Put newspaper in the crate for a few days and let the pup get used to it being there. (you may have done this already)

    2. After the pup is used to the paper being there for a few days, get a different crate of slightly different size. Move the new crate to a slightly different location right next to where the old one was located. Close the opening to it so the pup can not enter. Put the newspaper on the ground in the exact same spot the old crate was. It's best to put some newspaper he has already soiled a little. Put something under the backside and under the new crate so it is raised about two or three inches higher than the front.

    3. The pup will go on the newspaper eventually. After he does this a couple of times you can then open the crate door and will then need to gradually move the newspaper towards the door the pup uses to go outside. Eventually, moving it outside altogether.

    This method should do the trick for you. If not, let me know and I'll be happy to help out with more suggestions.

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