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There are various reasons a dog might poop in their crate, such as the dog not being housetrained, they’ve been in the crate too long, or the crate may be too large.
Whatever the reason, we all know the horrible job of crawling into a crate and cleaning that mess out.
One reason your dog is pooping in their kennel is that there is a health issue.
In this scenario your dog has typically been reliable but then suddenly can’t seem to hold their bowel movements until you get home.
Another reason your dog is pooping in their kennel might be because it is a new dog you just brought home and they may have some anxiety issues with being left home alone.
I know when my mom’s golden retriever Augustine was young, she pooped in her crate a couple of times.
Augustine had been outside before going into the crate, but she was easily distracted by anything and everything.
So, a few times she appeared to have gone to the bathroom, but in truth she had not entirely eliminated outside, resulting in her having an accident in her kennel.
Why Your Dog Poops in Their Crate
If there have been no previous issues with your dog being crated then suddenly, they start pooping in their kennel, there is a strong possibility that your dog has a health issue.
Some of the health issues that would lead to a dog pooping in their kennel are:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Bacterial infections
- Bad dietary choices – When your dog gets into the garbage, eats the random gross thing outside, or other items your dog may find to snack on
Too Long of a Period in the Crate
You know the book Everyone Poops?
Well, it’s a fact. Everyone, including your dog, poops.
Many dog parents have to go to work and leave their dog crated at home. Depending on your average day and drive time that can be a very long time in the kennel.
For example, if your commute is 30-minutes one way, your workday is the standard 8 hours with the half-hour lunch thrown in, and then another 30-minute drive home, that’s 9 ½ hours your dog is sitting in their kennel.
That scenario is on the conservative side because it doesn’t include bad traffic days, extra-long work days, or stopping at the store on your way home.
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Some dogs aren’t able to wait 8+ hours to poop, so they end up pooping in the kennel.
Crate is too Big
As working pet parents, we might feel guilty leaving our dogs home alone all day in their crate, so we compensate with a large crate.
However, some dogs will use the extra space like a bathroom instead of additional free space to move around during the day.
Using part of the kennel to relieve themselves is more common for puppies, but some adult dogs will do the same thing.
If your dog is eating a higher fiber food, their bowel movements may be more frequent.
Also, if you have switched your dog’s food recently, the change in diet may also cause a difference in your dog’s bowel movement habits.
If you have an anxious dog, such as one with separation anxiety, it may manifest in them having accidents.
Dogs can get themselves so worked up that it will cause them to have a bowel movement.
It’s generally not cruel to put your dog in a crate, but that’s different for dogs with separation anxiety.
Lack of Housetraining
If you have a non-housetrained dog, then it isn’t uncommon for them to have accidents in their kennel.
Rescue dogs that soil their kennels are often ones that have been forced to live in their own filth and genuinely don’t know any better.
What You Can Do to Avoid Your Dog Pooping in the Crate
In this situation, you will have to decide if you should wait and see if it happens again or if this is a one-time thing because they got into the garbage the night before. If it does happen again you may want to make a vet appointment right away.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to call the vet and when to wait and see.
If your dog poops in their kennel and they seem to be acting fine otherwise (eating, drinking, and their activity level is normal), then you might be okay to wait and see.
If your dog poops in their kennel and it looks irregular, say it has blood in it or they have diarrhea, then it would be a good idea to consult your vet clinic.
If you are really on the fence about whether or not to bring them in, call your vet and explain the situation. They will often be able to tell you if your dog should be seen right away or just monitored.
Too Long of a Period in the Crate
I know that when I was working downtown my workdays could and would turn into a lot longer than I had initially planned.
There were times that I was in the office for another hour and a half, then I had to sit in traffic for another hour because it snowed.
Because of days like that, I was very grateful Daisy was at daycare and not at home in her kennel.
I know we can’t always plan for the extra-long days, but if you have a good backup plan, you can avoid a poopy situation.
Here are some ideas that can help you and your dog out:
- Dog walker – Some dog walkers you can call and ask them to stop over on a whim. Otherwise, if you have a dog walker that comes every day to get your dog out, it won’t be so dire if you end up working a bit later than usual.
- Call a family member or friend to stop by and let them out
Sometimes there’s no one available to help you out when you’re having one of those late days.
I get that the last thing you want to do is scrub out a kennel, but don’t punish your dog when you get home if they pooped in their kennel.
They couldn’t help having the accident.
Crate is Too Big
You can install the partition so that your dog only has enough room to stand and turn around comfortably.
Over time, if you would like to try and give them more space, you can do so by moving the partition in small increments.
If you have a hard-sided or soft-sided crate that did not come with a handy barrier you can try using a box.
Now, if you have a teething puppy, you will need to be careful your dog won’t chew or eat the box. This might sound weird but my Sophie would destroy and consume the cardboard!
If you are feeding high fiber food, try gradually transitioning your dog to a different food with less fiber.
If your dog is on that food for weight loss, you can try feeding a mixture of high fiber food with a normal level fiber food, this will slow down your dog’s weight loss but it may avoid accidents in the kennel.
If you have changed your dog’s food, it may take time for your dog’s body to regulate to the new food, or you may need to try a different food that is less rich and less fiber.
If your dog suffers from SA (separation anxiety), it is a good idea to contact your veterinarian for assistance.
Even if your dog hasn’t suffered from separation anxiety in the past, it can still manifest later in your dog’s life and without any trauma to bring it on.
Your veterinarian can prescribe a medication to help your dog overcome their anxiety, or they may refer you to a behavior specialist to help you and your dog with this issue.
Likely, your vet will do both.
Just whining isn’t the same thing as anxiety and is dealt with more easily.
If you have a non-housetrained rescue dog, it is best to treat them like a puppy, using the same positive reinforcement methods.
Rescue dogs that haven’t had the proper care or training can learn to be housetrained later in life.
In my experience, it can be a little more complicated, because you have to change an old habit.
However, with patience and love, you can housetrain any dog of any age.
It is not natural for a dog to be okay with defecating in their sleeping area, so if your dog is having accidents in their kennel the first step in ending this behavior is determining why.
Remember, never punish your dog for having an accident in their kennel, I promise you they didn’t do it to be a bad dog. I know it’s frustrating, but your dog doesn’t want to sit in their own mess anymore than you want to clean it up.
If you can’t resolve the issue of your dog pooping in their kennel on your own, reach out to a professional for assistance.
Still Have Questions?
Ask a Vet!