Prevent a Dog from Defecating in its Crate
If you have crate-trained your dog but he keeps defecating in his crate, this could be for a variety of reasons. Your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety, have an underlying medical condition affecting bowel control, or simply not understand the crate is not the proper place to relieve himself. There are steps you can take to keep your dog from defecating in his crate.
Altering the Crate
- Make sure the crate is the right size. Oftentimes, dogs will defecate in their crate if it's too big. If the crate is large enough that your dog can comfortably eliminate in a corner he might choose to go in his crate rather than wait to be let out.
- Your dog's crate should be just big enough for him to stand up and turn around in and lie down with his legs straight. Anything bigger might make him tempted to use the crate as a bathroom.
- If you have a puppy, choose a crate with his adult size in mind. Crates can get expensive and you do not want to have to keep replacing a crate, but you can block off the excess crate space with cardboard paper, styrofoam, or other puppy safe materials.
- Feed your dog in his crate. Chances are, your dog would prefer not to defecate in the same space where he's fed. Feeding him in the crate can help.
- You do not need to close your dog in the crate at meal times, as the stress of being locked in may interfere with his ability to eat. Just set the food inside his crate and leave the door open.
- Your dog might be wary to enter the crate to eat at first, as he may suspect you're leaving and are trying to lure him in. If you leave the food out and go about your regular activities he should eventually eat.
- Alter the bedding in the crate. Changing the types of blankets you provide in the crate, or adding extra blankets, can potentially make your dog stop going in his crate.
- If you don't use bedding currently, adding a nice bed or some blankets to a crate may make your dog less likely to use the crate as a bathroom. Your dog will not want to defecate in an area if he enjoys cuddling and sleeping there.
- Conversely, if you do currently use bedding, and your dog buries his feces under it, remove the bedding. Your dog may be less likely to defecate in his crate if he feels he cannot easily cover it up.
- Paper padding should not be left in a crate, especially if your dog is paper trained.
- Clean up any accidents thoroughly. Each time your dog defecates in his crate, clean the area thoroughly. Use an enzymatic cleaner from a pet store or grocery store. Eliminating the odor caused by elimination may make your dog less likely to choose the same spot to eliminate again.
Changing Your Dog's Schedule
- Crate train your dog before leaving him alone in a crate. If you're just starting to leave your dog alone in his crate and he's eliminating in it, the problem is probably that he's not used to the crate. A dog should be introduced to his crate gradually before he can be left alone in the crate safely.
- Allow your dog a few days to get used to the crate. Encourage him to enter the crate, but do not lock it. Make the crate a pleasant experience by providing your dog with treats and praise for entering the crate.
- Once your dog is used to the crate, you can begin closing him in it for small periods at time. Start small, only leaving him in the crate for about 10 minutes at a time, and then gradually increase the duration.
- Once your dog is able to spend 30 minutes in his crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him for longer periods. Always be matter of fact when leaving. Dragging out a departure by saying a long goodbye to your canine can make his anxiety about being left alone worse.
- You can gradually increase the amount of time you leave your dog alone in the crate, eventually working up to leaving him in the crate overnight and while you're at work.
- Keep a consistent walk schedule. If your dog is having problems with eliminating in his crate, his walk schedule might not be consistent enough. Make sure you walk your dog at regular intervals so he does not have to resort to going in his crate.
- Simply leaving your dog outside will not necessarily teach him he's supposed to toilet outdoors. When potty training stay outside with him and praise him when he goes to the toilet spot. If you don't do this the risk is he may just regard outdoors as a playground, and not take the opportunity to relieve himself.
- Depending on your dog's age, he'll need more or less time outside. If he's under 12 weeks, he should be let out once an hour during the day and every 3 to 4 hours during the night.
- As he gets older, you can gradually increase the increments of time between walks. By the time he's 6 to 7 months old, you should be letting him out about every 4 hours during the day and every 8 hours at night. An adult dog should be let out at least three times a day, and preferably get at least one longer walk during that time.
- Consistency is key. Try to let your dog out around the same time each day. Your dog's body will adapt to a regular schedule and that should result in less accidents.
- Create a consistent daily feeding schedule. Feeding should also be done on a schedule. Limiting treats and snacks between meals can lead to less bathroom issues. Eating stimulates the bowel about 20 minutes later. Don't give the dog a meal and immediately crate him as he may then get caught short. Instead, give him a chance to toilet outside, around 20 to 30 minutes after eating.
- How much food your dog needs depends on his breed, size, and any medical conditions he might have. You can talk to your vet about how much food is appropriate for your dog and then decide how to best divide up feeding times throughout the day.
- If you crate your dog overnight, do not give him food or water 3 hours before bed time. If you crate your dog during the day while you're at work, make sure to give him a longer walk in the morning so he has a chance to relieve himself after breakfast.
- Use positive and negative reinforcement. The use of positive and negative reinforcement can help your dog learn not to eliminate in his crate.
- When you take your dog outside, always praise him when he eliminates. You can use verbal praise, saying something like "Good boy!", and also carry small treats to provide a reward.
- If you see your dog getting ready to eliminate in his crate, clap your hands and say "No." Then, take him outside so he can do his business there.
- Remember, dogs live in the immediate. If you wake up in the morning and find he's gone in his crate, scolding him then is probably not helpful. He will not understand what he's being scolded over. You should also avoid overly aggressive or loud scolding, as this can lead to anxiety that could potentially make the problem worse. Never rub your dog's nose in his feces or urine, as this will only serve to upset and confuse your dog.
Seeking Medical Care
- Make an appointment with a veterinarian. You want to make sure you rule out any medical problems as a potential cause. Make an appointment with your veterinarian and have her perform a routine physical exam on your dog.
- If your dog is experiencing loose stools or diarrhea, he may have gastrointestinal problems that warrant medical treatment. Your vet may perform blood tests or x-rays to determine treatment.
- Older dogs often have age-related bowel control issues. If your dog is a senior, your vet may order tests to determine if he can still control his bowels. She may have some suggestions for treatment options if this is the case.
- Familiarize yourself with the signs of separation anxiety. Dogs often defecate in their crate due to separation anxiety. Know the signs of separation anxiety and what to do if your dog is suffering from it.
- If the defecation is combined with howling, barking, excessive pacing, and your dog has been escaping or attempting to escape from his crate he may have separation anxiety. If you've recently had a change in schedule, residence, or roommate/family situation, your dog can develop anxiety in response to this.
- Providing positive reinforcement, like treats and praise, during stressful situations can help combat your dog's anxiety. You can leave your dog toys or food when you leave the house, for example. Many pet stores sell puzzle toys, where your dog has to figure out how to open a contraption to get a treat or a toy as a reward. This can be a great distraction if your dog seems to develop anxiety in your absence.
- You can also ask your veterinarian about treatment options. She might recommend a medication or a training program that can help your dog cope.
- Be careful about changing your dog's diet. Any changes in a dog's diet can result in bowel control issues. If you've recently change food types or brands, your dog may be having trouble controlling his bowels. Always transition between food types gradually, starting off by mixing small amounts of the new type of food into the old type and gradually building your way up.
- If your dog's issues seem to be anxiety related, consulting a professional dog trainer can help, although this can be somewhat pricey.
- Check the crate for sharp edges that the dog can hurt himself on. Dogs with bulging eyes (Pekingese for example) have been know to hurt their eyes on wires that stick out, so be sure there are no sharp points.
- Remove all collars or harnesses from the dog while it is the crate. These are a choking hazard.
- Housebreak an Adult Dog
- Be a Good Dog Owner
- Keep a Dog or Cat Successfully While Living in an Apartment
- Stay Safe when a Dog Approaches You
- Get a Dog to Stop Drinking from the Toilet
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