Updated at: 12-01-2022 - By: petstutorial

A puppy pooping in the crate may sound like a minor inconvenience, but it can turn into a major chore considering that the whole crate will need to be cleaned, any mats or bedding will need to be washed and the puppy will almost always need a bath.

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No puppy owner wants the behavior of pooping in the crate to become a habit. Who wants to come back after a long day at work to find a big stinky mess? Who wants to wake up in the morning to the smell of poop?

The Issue of Puppies Pooping in the Crate

A puppy pooping in the crate may sound like a minor inconvenience, but it can turn into a major chore considering that the whole crate will need to be cleaned, any mats or bedding will need to be washed and the puppy will almost always need a bath.

No puppy owner wants the behavior of pooping in the crate to become a habit. Who wants to come back after a long day at work to find a big stinky mess? Who wants to wake up in the morning to the smell of poop?

The Importance of a Good Start

Ideally, good breeders will introduce puppies to the ABCs of potty training from an early age (as early as 3 to 4 weeks of age). They do this by inculcating in their young puppies the idea that eating, drinking, playing and sleeping areas are not meant to be soiled.

To accomplish this, they raise the mother dog and her puppies in a den-like enclosure with an area dedicated for eating, drinking, playing and sleeping and an area purposely made for elimination located at the opposite side.

This area dedicated to elimination often has a special substrate that helps puppies associate walking over it with elimination. This area may be covered with pee-pads, newspaper, sand, grass, etc.

On top of this, good breeders will introduce puppies from an early age to a crate, getting them used to being in there and helping them learn that the crate is a place to eat, chew, chill, rest and eventually sleep rather than soil. The crate is therefore perceived by the puppy from an early age more as a bedroom than a bathroom.

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Puppies who miss out on these important life lessons may be more difficult to potty train, causing new puppy owners much anguish.

Identifying the Underlying Cause

There is crate pooping and crate pooping in the world of potty training puppies. Tackling the issue of puppies pooping in the crate requires some careful evaluation so to get to the root of the problem.

One main question is: has the puppy been pooping in the crate ever since you have had him or is this a new behavior that has just erupted out of the blue? This can make a difference in finding the underlying cause.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some possible causes for puppies pooping in the crate.

Why Is My Puppy Pooping in the Crate?

Identifying the exact underlying cause for your puppy’s crate-pooping behavior may not always be cut and dry as hoped, however, with some information on hand, you are better equipped to solve the puzzle. Below are some pointers.

1) The Puppy Is Too Young to Hold it

Most puppies are welcomed into their new homes around the age of 8 weeks, although some breeds may be welcomed later on because they are slower to develop and need more time with their moms and littermates.

Maltese puppies, for example, should be removed from their moms only once they’re 12 weeks of age, recommends the American Maltese Association Code of Ethics

Around 8 to 16 weeks of age, most puppies are too young to hold their pee and poop overnight and most require at least one or two trips at night to go potty.

It is therefore important that before crating your puppy for the night or leaving your puppy at home in the crate for some time, you ensure he is “empty” meaning he has peed and pooped.

Moral of the story? If your puppy is crated for longer than he can hold it, this will result in accidents in the crate.

2) The Crate Is Too Large

Remember how it was mentioned earlier that breeders create an area for eating, drinking, playing and sleeping and one distinct area for elimination on the opposite side? Remember also how breeders also introduce crates to puppies as their bedroom area for eating, chewing, resting and sleeping?

Well, the crate size is very important when it comes to potty training. If you provide a crate that is too large, your puppy may come to learn to pee/poop in one corner and sleep comfortably on the opposite side.

To work as a good potty training tool, the crate should therefore be large enough for your puppy to comfortably stand, turn around and sleep, but not that large that he can sleep in one corner and poop on the opposite.

The purpose of the crate is therefore to teach your puppy to “hold it” as he develops because he instinctively doesn’t want to soil his “bedroom” ( the so-called denning instinct) and to eventually alert you when he needs to be taken outside.

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3) Puppy Is From a Puppy Mill/Pet Store or Bad Breeder

Remember how it was explained earlier in a few paragraphs above how dedicated breeders take the time to create a specific area for elimination and how puppies are introduced to their crates?

Well, if you got your puppy from a pet store or a not-so-knowledgeable breeder, chances are, your puppy missed out on important life lessons.

Puppies raised in puppy mills and then sold to pet stores are often kept in cages and left there most of the time. This only teaches them that the cage is their bathroom area so they have no problem pooping there when the need arises.

This puts a great dent in the potty training process, as these puppies never learn to hold it, they just go the moment they feel the urge. Once introduced to the crate, they’ll just perceive it as a bathroom and will go just as often as needed.

4) Medical Issue

If your puppy was doing pretty well in being potty trained and learned to hold it and not to soil in the crate, and now, suddenly he is having accidents, give him the benefit of doubt. Chances are, he may be suffering from some medical issue.

Namely, softer stools and diarrhea may impact a pup’s ability to hold it. The need becomes more impellent as the stools are passed with more frequency and urgency.

Soft stools and diarrhea are often seen in puppies due to dietary indiscretions (puppies eating things they shouldn’t), abrupt dietary changes (puppies introduced to new foods too quickly), intestinal parasites and even potentially life-threatening disorders such as puppy parvo which can be rampant in some areas.

5) A Matter of Anxiety/Stress

If your puppy isn’t used to being in the crate or he struggles being left alone or is fearful of noises, this can lead to accidents in the crate. Even a move or change can upset a sensitive puppy’s tummy.

6) A History of Punishment

If your puppy has been punished often for pooping, there are chances this may teach your puppy to hide to poop. In other words, if you have caught your puppy pooping on the floor in the past and got angry or frustrated, your puppy may have come to associate pooping in your presence with punishment. This may lead to the puppy holding it and pooping the moment he is created and you move out of sight.

How to Stop a Puppy From Pooping in the Crate

As seen, there are several potential causes for a puppy pooping in the crate. Addressing the issue quickly is important because too many poop accidents in the crate may cause a gradual loss of the pup’s natural aversion (denning instinct) to not soil where he sleeps. Following are several tips to stop a puppy from soiling his crate.

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