How to Stop Puppy from Peeing in Kennel or Crate

We all know the puppy potty training basics.

If not, you can read my post on potty training a puppy here. Basically, it involves lots of supervision and prevention. Taking the puppy out often. Confining the puppy to a small area when you can’t supervise.

Most puppies do not want to soil the area where they sleep, so confining them to a kennel when you can’t supervise is a great prevention technique. But what happens if your puppy doesn’t seem to mind peeing in her kennel?

I’ll share my ideas, but of course I really want to hear your tips, especially if this is something you’ve dealt with. I don’t have an easy answer, so I’m hoping to start a discussion on this.

(I use crate/kennel interchangeably, and it could also mean a small, gated-off area like a bathroom.)
How to stop a dog from peeing in his crate

First, let’s rule out some potential issues.

Could it be that your puppy can’t hold it as long as you expect?

She may not want to pee in her kennel, but maybe your puppy can’t hold it as long as you thought. Depending on her age, you may need to take her out more often, like every two hours instead of every four. During the day, you may need to hire a dog walker or a neighbor to come let her out, at least for the next few weeks.

Is your puppy sick?

It’s understandable that she won’t be able to hold it if she has an upset tummy or a urinary tract infection.

Is she drinking too much water before going into her kennel?

I would cut her off a few hours before bed, and limit her water before you head to work.

Does her feeding schedule need to be changed?

Make sure you’re not “free feeding” your puppy by leaving food out all the time. While this is convenient for you and may seem kind to her, it’s too difficult to predict when she will need to go to the bathroom. Instead, feed her at the exact same times two or three times per day so you can plan her bathroom times accordingly (like, right after she eats!).

Is your puppy dealing with separation anxiety?

I’m careful to suggest this, because I think separation anxiety in dogs is an overused term, especially for puppies. It’s normal for puppies to cry a bit when left alone for the first week or so. No big deal. Usually, their crying will stop if the owners do not respond to it.

But, if your dog or puppy seems especially anxious about being in her crate or being alone, she may be more likely to eliminate in it, due to stress. If this is the case, I would go back to the basic kennel training techniques to help her feel more comfortable being alone and being in her kennel.

 ‘No, it’s none of the above. My dog just pees in her crate.’

Springer spaniel puppy sleeping in her crate
OK, so if you’ve ruled out all of the above, it could very well be that your dog doesn’t mind peeing in her crate for whatever reason. Most likely, it became a habit at some point when she had no other choice.

Do you know your dog’s history?

Unfortunately, most pet shop puppies are kept in small cages and they often (always?) learn to pee in their confined area since many are not actually taken outside.

Shelter dogs may also learn to pee in their kennel area if they aren’t taken outside for walks often enough. Unfortunately, once a dog has had so many “accidents” it eventually becomes a habit.

The same could be true if your dog came from a foster home or previous owner where they were crated for too long during the day. Maybe the dog simply couldn’t hold it for 10 hours, so peeing in the crate became normal.

Another possibility is that your dog came from a puppy mill background. Sadly, these dogs often have no choice but to eliminate right where they live, sleep and eat.

And finally, the reality is you may not know your dog’s history, but you can still come up with a plan to help her learn not to go potty in her crate.

How to stop a dog from peeing in her crate

OK, now that we’ve ruled out a bunch of possibilities, let’s come up with a plan on what to do if the dog truly doesn’t mind peeing in her kennel.

Ace-and-Cali

Limit time in the kennel (prevention)

One key is prevention. The less time the dog is in the kennel, the less likely she is to go potty in her kennel.

One trick I often recommend for dogs and puppies that are still learning potty training rules is to keep them on a leash when you’re home. This prevents the pup from wandering off to pee in another room, because she is stuck with you.

If the pup is on a leash, you would be able to see when she needs to go out. Regardless, you would still take her out as often as needed. Possibly every 45 minutes at first.

Basically, at all times the dog should either be on a leash with you indoors, outside with you so you can reward good potty habits or confined to a small area.

When you do have to put the dog in her kennel, try to limit that time to an hour or two if possible. I know this is not always realistic, which leads us to the next idea.

Use an ex-pen or gated area and potty pads

I know, I know. I am not a fan of teaching a dog to go potty on fake grass or potty pads or newspapers. I normally would not recommend potty pads, but they can be a possibility for teaching a dog to pee outside of her kennel vs. in her kennel.

Puppy Potty Pee Pads
If you know your dog will almost always pee in her kennel after three hours (or whatever time it might be), and you know you won’t be able to let her out in that time, then the potty pads are an option.

Simply place the open kennel in a small, blocked off area such as a bathroom with a baby gate. Ideally you would choose an area with tiles or linoleum for easy cleaning.

Another option is to put an ex-pen around the kennel, which is basically like a small, indoor fence. Think, a child’s “play-pen” area. A kitchen could be a good place for this.

Then, place the potty pads on the floor outside of the kennel. It’s possible your dog will naturally want to pee on the pads (great!) due to past experience. Or, she may have no idea she is supposed to pee on them. If that is the case, keep the area as small as you can and cover the entire area with the pads.

If she seems to always go in one area, you can eventually reduce the pads to that area. With time, you can cover a smaller and smaller area with the pads. Reward her if you see her going potty on the pads.

See my post: How to train a dog to use pee pads.

Keep rewarding good behavior

The best thing you can do, obviously, is to keep taking your dog outside often and giving her a tasty treat every time she goes potty outside (like real bacon or chicken). If she does happen to have an accident in the house or in her kennel, just clean it up with a high-quality odor remover. Keep using the potty pad technique when you can’t supervise. When you are home, take her outside as often as possible.

With time, most dogs will be successful if:

  • They are taken out often, like every 45 minutes if needed
  • The owners do not wait for the dogs to “tell them” they need to go; they just take them out regardless
  • The dog is kept on a leash and near the owner while in the house
  • The dog is confined to a small area when the owner can’t supervise
  • The dog is given a highly valued treat every time she goes potty outside

Have any of you had to deal with this issue?

What did you do to train your dog not to go potty in her crate?

Let me know, as this seems to be a fairly common problem with dogs. I don’t have all the answers, and it’s nice to hear some different opinions/experiences.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Related post:

My dog won’t poop in the yard

Stop a dog from peeing in his crate

26 thoughts on “How to Stop Puppy from Peeing in Kennel or Crate”

  1. With Laika I committed a full week to complete supervision and it worked extremely well. She was the first dog I’d had to potty train as an adult and I was quite pleased. Constant supervision seems to be key; I wouldn’t even let her play around for more than an hour or two without taking a potty break just in case. Then I’d praise like it was the best thing to ever happen and she seemed so proud.

    I think a lot of people expect their puppies will automatically start to signal before they go. Doesn’t always work that way, seems much easier to supervise and prevent accidents.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s probably what I would try to do as well. Thankfully Ace was already potty trained when I got him and I didn’t have to do much at all.

  2. Yikes. I can’t imagine trying to deal with this. It must be so hard. I think they call them “dirty puppies”? Fortunately, I’ve never had to handle a dog with this problem, so I don’t have a lot to add. One thing I did hear is that getting a smaller crate or putting a big box in one end to make it seem smaller can help. If the crate is big enough a dog may choose one side for sleeping and one side for pooping, like if the owners decide to save money by buying a giant-sized crate for their 8-week old St. Bernard so they won’t have to buy another when she gets big.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, good point on the size of the kennel. For example, the pic I posted in this post of the springer puppy in her kennel – that is a lot of space in there. If she were having any issues with potty training (she wasn’t) it would’ve been better to use a smaller kennel while she was so young.

  3. I can’t imagine house training without using a crate but a few accidents are bound to happen at first when the puppy is really young. A great point in your article is to not wait for a dog to “tell you” they need to go, just take them out anyway. When Haley was a puppy, I used a command “go pee” when she was successful outside and it didn’t take too long before she knew what the command meant. It really comes in handy later when you’re traveling or for when you need the dog to pee on command.

  4. Maya used to have this problem. It was usually because she couldn’t hold it. The last time it happened was after we played in the sprinkler. Apparently she drank a lot of water and really had to go 30 minutes after we were inside. What’s funny is that she’d actually choose to pee in her kennel rather than anywhere else in the house.

  5. My cousin dog is 4 and came from a shelter. She only has accidents during the night or early morning. He is elderly with health issues so he doesn’t get up with her thru the night and he sleeps late. Instead of disposable pee pads he uses the washable incontinent pads for people purchased at home medical. She wets on the average of 1 time a night , we just wash it the next day. He loves the dog to death and wouldn’t dream of kenneling her or locking her in a room. I put the pad on the floor in the same place she would go every night and she right away started using the pad instead of the floor. No muss no fuss, it sure saved the floor!

  6. My dog is 7 months old now. Frank is a Husky/Pitbull Mix and he started peeing in his crate and chewing on his blanket whenever we put him in there leaving for work. He is only alone for 2-3 hours MAX and when one of us comes home, the crate is soaked. The blanket isn’t always being chewed on, but there is always an odorless wet blanket in the crate (same blanket). My girlfriend is convinced that he does this because he is mad, but I just have no idea. We leave him outside the crate all of the time unless we go out to dinner or have a few drinks. He never pees when he is NOT in the crate, but insists on making a mess when he is. Any ideas anybody?????

  7. My 5 year old Bichon Frise has been wetting his crate since we first got him at about 6 months old. He’s been to 3 different vets and they have all ruled out any health problems. He is also “obsessed” with drinking water. He will literally drink a gallon of water if you let him, then throw up, and continue to drink. He also continually seeks out water anywhere in the house. He’ll sit by the sink, stare at someone’s water bottle, etc. Even when I limit his water intake, which I’ve been doing for the past few months, he still soaks his crate. A few times I have even walked him a staggering 12 times in one day, only to find his crate soiled overnight. I’m running out of options here and refuse to give him away.

    1. Hi Gary,
      You might ask your vet to check for Water Diabetes (Diabetes Incipidus). My 7 month old Brittany was showing the same behaviors as your Bichon Frise. The first vet thought it was a bladder infection even though the test did not come back positive. One weekend, she became so obsessed with water that she would not sleep more than a half hour at a time all night long, I took her to Purdue Small Animal hospital and within an hour after our arrival she had gone into a coma-like state due to a severe dehydration caused by the water diabetes. The end of the story was not happy, so I urge you to keep on until you find a vet who will look deeper into this situation. This obsession with water and lack of bladder control exists because of some health problem, it may be water diabetes, which can cause death if not treated.

      1. Stephanie!! I have Brittanys! DI seems to be a growing problem in the breed! My 13 year old has it and takes desmopressin for it. It helps control the peeing a lot. I have a 13 week old from different lines and she is wetting her crate now too. Hoping it’s just age. What lines is your Brittany from? I assume you are in Indiana?? Tell me more if you can. Thanks!

  8. Sandy Weinstein

    the only time my puppies went potty in their crate is when they were sick or i got really delayed coming home. i have never been a believer in leaving a puppy in the crate for a long time. so i always took the blame if they did go to the bathroom. even now my girls have accidents if i leave them alone too long. my oldest almost 15, with dementia has accidents almost everyday now. she is deaf and almost blind. however, since she was abt 7 wks old she never had accidents til recently. i could be gone for a long time taking care of my mother and get delayed and never would go in the house. i have left them in crates for a few hours and they never went in their crates. my girls never went in their crates so i guess i was lucky. i do have potty pads in one area of the house all of the time in case i am not home.

  9. My puppy just started crate training for during the day. He does perfect at night. But during the day he only goes pee on his doggy bed in the crate. His crate is just perfect, he has his doggy bed and food in there. He can stand up. Should I not leave any water for him? Just give him water when we get home? Should I only give him a little water? Help!!

    1. How long is he in the crate? I’m guessing he just can’t hold it that long during day hours when he’s more active and awake vs. sleeping hard in the dark of night. Can you get home at lunch to let him out if you aren’t already?

  10. Sandy Weinstein

    i have older girls that have some oops sometimes, so every now and then i will put them in the crate when i leave, so i wont have a mess when i get home. however, i have come home on occasion and found a mess in the crate. sometimes the girls are so good and other times i will come home and find a total mess, not just pee and poo, but destruction. i think they get upset if i am gone for a long time. i stay at home most of the time so they dont like it when i leave, they are very attached to me.

  11. My poodle is 2 years old and was a rescue dog from Arkansas.
    At first she went in her crate with no problem. Lately, every time I go out, even for only 1 hr. she piddles in her crate.
    She also did it at night until I let her sleep with me – at
    which time she can hold it all night.
    she never goes in the house when she is loose. I would like to crate her when I go out for longer periods of time. What can I do?N

    1. Hi,
      I adopted a 10 month terrier/collie a month ago so she is technically 11 months now, I work Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 so basically she is crated all day and pees in there every day. I thought maybe it was because of the long hours, but I tested her and left her for only 2 hours last night and she still went in her crate. when she sleeps in there, she doesn’t pee. Is it because of anxiety? I don’t know how to train her not to pee while I’m at work and I dont want to keep scolding her when I get home because I’m scared shes going to pee right then and there. She’s been very good when she is out of the cage, or maybe because I am constantly bringing her out. Please help!

  12. Pingback: My Dog Pees Next to the Pee Pad Instead of on the Pad - ThatMutt.com: A Dog Blog

  13. I have a 5 month old st bernard male puppy who is just a shit head. For example, I he will pee in the house, take him out and he will pee outside, come in and per again. Repeat this process for the next 2 hours. He cannot have a bed because he has peed on all of them, roughly $100 worth of beds. A couple days ago I sat down with my morning coffee after taking him outside to go potty and play in the snow, he comes over and stares at me, got bored and walked right over to his bed and peed all over it. This morning, I had him out 20 minutes before my fiance got home and he did both deeds, he decided peeing in our hallway was a good idea. He has no problem just peeing wherever and whenever he needs to go. Kennel? He doesn’t care. Living room? Sure, why not! The bed he sleeps on, even better! He was just on antibiotics for 2 weeks to see if that resolved the problem. Nope. For instance, I put him in his kennel to go get my son from school and he started peeing right away. I am a stay at home mom and can literally take him out every half hour and he still pees in the house. He is such a little shit head that I have to kennel him when I want to eat even if he was just out cuz he will pee on the floor every time I sit down to eat. I cannot possibly limit his water intake anymore without dehydrating him. I cannot leave water out to let him self regulate because he will drink till he pukes. He gets fed every morning around 8:15, small lunch around 12:30 and dinner around 5:30 with water at these times, taking water away completely at 6 pm. This puppy just does not care and I am at my whitts end.(sorry for any grammer errors, typing on my phone)

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Jesse, that sounds so frustrating! Hang in there, it will get better. Try not to think of it as him not caring or him being naughty. He’s still a puppy and truly doesn’t understand the rules yet. Some dogs just take longer to potty train than others. I got my weimaraner at 8 weeks and he was not 100% potty trained at 5 months. Below is a post that might help you brainstorm some ideas, but I would go back to the basics. Truly take him out every 45 mins or so, even more often if he doesn’t go while he’s out. Reward him when he does go outside. And I agree, he is better off without a bed or blanket for now. Not worth it! Good luck!

      https://www.thatmutt.com/2016/06/13/how-long-potty-train-puppy/

  14. I have a 15 nth old Australian Shepard /border collie mix that I adopted from our local shelter when he was 8 weeks old. He Is an inside dog and has been completely house and crate broken for months, but just out of the blue, he has recently started urinating in his crate, does anyone have any ideas on why he would start this habit?

  15. I have an 8 week old Maltipoo. I will take her out to pee and some days she is good and goes out the doggie door and pees and others like last night she came in, and I make her drag a leash, she peed right in front of me!! I was was pissed! I felt like she did it on purpose! I scolded her and put her in her kennel! I have a kennel in my room where she sleeps and one in my living room where I put her when I leave during the day! She will pee in the one in the living room, but not the one in my bedroom! How can I break her if this? Today I’m very upset with her and don’t want to keep her if she is doing this on purpose! Any suggestions?

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