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If you share your home with a pet, chances are you’ve had to deal with a potty accident or two (or two dozen). This includes the occasional crate pee accident. For most dog owners, this is a small price to pay for the unconditional love that dogs bring to our lives. However, if your dog is peeing in their crate consistently, it’s time to intervene.
Here’s why your dog keeps peeing in the crate and how to stop them from doing it. No more Lysol wipes, enzyme cleaner, and washing that crate pad every day!
Why Does my Dog Pee in the Crate?
First off, make sure that your dog’s crate is a comfy place to be. Give them a cozy blanket and plush toys for warmth and for company.
Next, look into the common reasons for crate peeing. These include age, lack of routines, behavior issues, and illness.
Let’s dig into each one.
A regular dog walking schedule will help your dog pee at the appropriate times.
A consistent morning walk does wonders to prevent potty accidents. For dogs, morning exercise is not only a source of physical and mental stimulation but also their best opportunity to use the toilet—unless you’re able to pop home during the day or book a drop-in pet visit.
One caution with exercise: limit strenuous exercise prior to your dog’s bedtime or to leaving them in the crate for the day. That’s because after running hard, your pup will want to drink more water. This can lead to an engorged bladder and a resulting crate pee accident.
This brings us to the exciting topic of canine bladder capacity. It can vary greatly based on the size, breed, and age of the dog.
Anecdotally, my husband’s parents live with a 100lb Doberman/Shepherd mix (whom we have nicknamed “The Camel”) who can hold his bladder for 12+ hours, though he’s given the chance to “go” every 6 hours or so. He often keeps his bladder full until the right opportunity comes along, such as a walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the dog park.
One of his favorite playmates, however, my brother’s 80lb Staffordshire Terrier, can only hold it for 8 hours max. Our Labrador/pit mix is somewhere in between.
So how do I find out dog’s bladder capacity, you ask? According to the AKC, a good rule of thumb for puppies is to “take the puppies age in months… and add 1 to estimate the number of hours that a puppy can hold it before she needs to go outside to potty.”
So, for a 5-month-old puppy, that would be about 6 hours maximum.
For adult dogs it depends on their size and health. According to VetInfo, a medium-sized adult dog should be able to hold it for 8-10 hours (with larger dogs for longer, and smaller dogs for less time). Keep these maximum time periods in mind; your dog may be peeing in the crate simply because they can’t hold it any longer.
According to the ASPCA and many pet parents we’ve spoken to, indoor dog pee accidents such as crate peeing are often related to separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is not uncommon in rescue dogs. It can also occur after losing a family member, changes in routine, moving to a new home, or the addition of a family member. If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, read this trainer’s three-part series on how to help.
For mild separation anxiety, try counterconditioning. This means developing a positive association between the thing that causes your dog to be anxious—such as your departure.
One way to do this is to give them a tasty treat every time you leave for the day, so they associate your leaving with the positive outcome of receiving a treat.
Since it is best for the enjoyable, positive association to last as long as possible, you may try reserving meal time for when you leave for the day.
Medical Causes for Dog Crate Accidents
If your dog started peeing in their crate suddenly, and you can’t point to any changes in routine or environment, it’s possible that a medical condition is to blame.
Several canine illnesses can bring on indoor peeing, including, as the ASPCA notes: “a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitalia.”
Certain food allergies and medications could also cause your dog to lose control of their bladder, resulting in peeing in their crate.
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from any of these conditions, consult your vet for a treatment plan.
Crate Pee Solutions
To stop your dog from peeing in the crate, you’ll need time and patience. So what should you do in the meantime?
- First, read this article! It is the definitive guide to cleaning up indoor dog pee.
- Next, consider getting a divider and pee pad for your dog’s crate. The AKC writeup on this topic suggests that if given the choice, a dog would rather pee in a different spot than where they sleep. So, using a crate divider and placing a pee pad on one side, with their bed on the other, should help.
- Lastly, enjoy your dog! The loyalty and joy that pets bring to our lives are worth the effort. With some patience and love, you can help them work through their crate peeing issues and strengthen your bond in the process.
- Tips for Crate Training a Puppy: No Whimpering Necessary
- Your Complete Guide to Puppy Potty Training
- How to Crate Train Your Puppy to Keep Them Happy, Cozy, and Safe