Nothing is as sweet as waking up in the morning to the smell of fresh coffee. Nothing is as awful as waking up to the smell of something stinky your dog has left for you in his crate. But dogs are not supposed to poop in their crates, right? Unfortunately, some dogs do. Read on to learn why they do and what you can do to stop it.

Why does my dog poop in the crate?

Although your first thought may be that the reason for the “mistake” is behavioral, there are indeed many other reasons why dogs poop in their crate including medical or physical problems.  Your first step is to determine the exact reason your dog is having bowel movements inappropriately.  

Potty training

Is your dog still a puppy who cannot hold her bowels for the time she is left in the crate?  Is your dog older and becoming unable to hold it as long as he used to? Puppies need to be taken for potty breaks every two hours and older dogs also need to be taken out more frequently, too. When you take your dog outside, be positive, lavish her with praise and treat her with something yummy when she poops.

Crate size

The concept of crating relates to the dogs’ instinct to make a clean and cozy den for themselves and their litter. Therefore, the size of the crate you get for your dog is key. The ideal size for your dog gives him enough room to turn around and lay on his side with his legs extended. If you dog poops in this amount of space, he will end up having to lie in it – something most dog don’t want to do. On the other hand, if the crate is too big, your dog can poop and still find a spot where he can lie down and be comfortable without becoming dirty.

Nervousness

Just like humans, some dogs have nervous personalities which make them prone to exceptional behaviors. A dog who suffers from separation anxiety may be prone to getting so worked up that she poops and pees uncontrollably. This behavior may become even worse when she is confined to a small space, as in her crate.

Diseases

Inflammatory bowel disease, an allergic response in a dog’s intestinal lining, affects his ability to properly digest his food, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting. If your dog suffers from this, see a veterinarian for medications or other interventions to help your dog’s condition.

Infections, most notably parvovirus, can cause uncontrollable diarrhea and illness in dogs. It is a contagious virus that also causes pain, bloating and vomiting.

Parasites

Parasites can also wreak havoc in a dog’s digestive tract, causing diarrhea that can lead to complete loss of control of the rectal area. Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia and coccidia can all result in chronic and uncontrollable diarrhea.

Rectum Function Disorders

Some muscle and nerve disorders can result in weakness or complete debility of the rectum. Degenerative myelopathy is a spinal cord issue that results in hind-end dysfunction. Peripheral myopathy prevents your dog from knowing when he needs to poop. Myasthenia, a neuro-muscular disorder, stops the rectal muscles from being able to contract. Finally, incontinence can be caused by many issues such as paralysis from injury or old age-related conditions.

Why is my dog suddenly pooping in her crate?

You have the perfect size crate and your dog has been perfect in her crate until … she’s not. Now what? Granted, finding why a previously crate-trained dog is suddenly pooping in her crate is frustrating. Finding the reason for the change in her behavior is the critical step in changing it.

Eliminate medical issues

First stop – a visit to your veterinarian to rule out physical causes for the behavior. Bring a fecal sample with you to the appointment.  If you can get a urine sample, bring that as well. Your vet will perform a physical exam and will probably take some blood for a complete look at your pet’s physical condition. More in-depth testing may include x-rays, MRI or biopsy to eliminate tumors, muscle or nerve issues.

What has changed?

Is there a new baby in the household? A favorite son or daughter off to college? Another pet added to the household? A move to a new home? You suddenly get a job which means you have to leave the house for the entire day? Some other kind of trauma in his life? Any big or small change can upset your dog so that he reverts to a pre-potty trained state, causing him to suddenly start pooping in his crate.

Is your dog young?

It’s not uncommon for younger dogs to have accidents in the crate, but the question is, is it a once or twice event or is it suddenly happening more often? A visit to the vet is in order and if he checks out, then it’s back to potty training 101.

Why does my dog pee in her crate?

Peeing in the crate can mirror some of the same reasons why dogs poop in the crate.  But for a closer look, read on.

Training

If your dog has not been fully trained to pee outside or on a pee pad, she may be more likely to urinate in her crate.

Time in Crate

A dog’s bladder is only so big and there comes a time when they simply can’t hold it any longer. Puppies need frequent potty breaks (every two hours), and older dogs need at least a mid-day break from the crate to poop and pee. If you can’t get home to let your dog out, look for a friend, relative, or dog-sitting service that can do the job for you.

Anxiety

Separation anxiety strikes again. If your dog suffers when you leave him, a common reaction he may have is to poop and pee from the ensuing anxiety.

Bladder, Urinary Tract or Kidney Issues

Some dogs have an overactive bladder which means they need to go potty more often than the average dog. However, your dog could also have an infection or stones in the bladder, both of which need medical attention.

What To Do?

Once again, the first stop for your peeing pet is the vet. The vet will perform a physical, talk to you about any lifestyle changes, and test the urine for any signs of infection. If your dog checks out then it’s onward for a pee refresher course.

How do I stop my dog from pooping in his crate?

Once your dog is in the clear health-wise, talk to your veterinarian about a game plan to stop the behavior.  If crate size is the problem, that is an easy remedy you can fix right away. Also, try letting him out of the crate to poop and pee more often.

If nerves and anxiety are the root cause, ask your vet about some remedies or medications that can help. There are some natural remedies as well as prescription medications that can help ease your dog’s anxiety. Additional exercise can also help soothe ragged nerves. Chew toys may distract him and be a healthy outlet for anxiety.

A change in diet may help, especially if your dog has a sensitive bowel. Ask your vet about the best feeding schedule for your dog’s condition.

Work on making the crate a wonderful place for your dog to be! Put in a super-comfy bed and consider feeding him in it, with the door open, of course. Let this also be the treat-spot. By making this your dog’s doggy-cave, he’ll be less likely to spoil his go-to place.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.