Why Did My Dog Poop In His Crate? Do Crates Cause Diarrhea?

Dog diarrhea in a crate is the worst! A bout of diarrhea is distressing for your dog and for you. The crate, your dog, and even your whole home end up smelling dreadful, and the whole scene takes some serious cleanup to get rid of the stink. 

But do dog crates cause diarrhea? Why do puppies poop in their crates? And what can you do about it?

If your puppy or dog pooped in his crate, you need to read this guide immediately!

Why Did My Puppy Poop In His Crate?

Puppies In A Playpen

If you have a new puppy, it’s challenging for pet parents to enjoy a sound, undisturbed night’s rest. Puppies are just like newborn babies, waking up regularly and crying for food or potty breaks.

Ignore that cry, and you risk waking up in the morning to find an accident in the crate. But your puppy is not being naughty; he just needs to go to the toilet quite frequently. The only failsafe way to avoid your puppy from pooping in his crate is to wake up several times during the night to take your puppy outside for a toilet break. 

Realistically, very young puppies can only go for a couple of hours at a stretch before they need to go outside. However, as your furbaby grows, he will be able to wait for longer periods of time. Meanwhile, you just need to resign yourself to missing out on your beauty sleep temporarily!

How To Stop A Puppy From Pooping In A Crate At Night

There are several things you can do to prevent your puppy from having accidents in his crate during the night.

Is Your Puppy Healthy?

One common cause of dogs and puppies pooping in their crate is a health condition of some kind. 

Diarrhea can be caused by medical issues, including internal parasites, such as worms, or by some kind of infection. It’s thought that worms are most common in puppies and dogs under 12 months of age. That’s why you must ensure that your dog or puppy is dewormed regularly as per your veterinary clinic’s advice.

If your dog suddenly begins pooping in his crate after previously being house trained, the most likely cause is a parasite or a health issue. You can take a look at this fecal scoring chart produced by pet food manufacturer Purina to see whether your dog’s feces is normal or too loose.

Always take your dog or puppy to see your veterinarian if you have any concerns that your pet’s poop is not normal.

Is The Crate The Correct Size?

A very common mistake that new pet parents make is to provide their pet with a crate that’s too large.

Dogs generally don’t use the same area of their territory to both sleep and poop in. So, if you provide your dog with a crate that’s too big, there’s a good chance that he will use one end of the crate as a latrine for peeing and popping and the other end for sleeping. In a crate of the correct size, your dog should be able to lie down flat, stand up completely, and turn around. However, there shouldn’t be sufficient room for your pup to walk around inside the crate.

Rather than buying a crate for your puppy to grow into, you should buy a roomy crate that comes with a divider. That way, you can adjust the crate to the perfect size while your puppy grows without having it so large that your dog can set up a “potty corner.”

What’s Your Feeding Schedule?

Generally speaking, it takes a healthy dog between six and ten hours to digest a meal and then need to poop. Puppies, being smaller, process their meals much more quickly than that.

Ideally, you want to feed your dog so that he needs to poop right before your usual going to bedtime. That way, you can ensure that your canine companion has done his bathroom business outside before you retire for the night.

So, you can see that offering your puppy or dog a meal too early in the afternoon can set him up for a potty break in the middle of the night. It’s really just a matter of timing your dog’s feeds to suit your schedule and make your pet’s bowel movements more predictable.

What Kind Of Dog Bed Do You Use?

Happy Goldendoodle in a dog bed with a bone

Most owners like to provide their puppy or dog with a comfy bed in the crate to encourage their pet to sleep soundly. However, if you have a teething puppy or a dog that likes to chew things when he gets bored, you might find that he resorts to destroying and eating his bed. That’s potentially dangerous, as chewed bed linings are a common cause of surgery in dogs!

Another common problem is that many dogs like to keep their crates “clean” by burying their poop underneath their bed. That said, other dogs won’t poop in their crate simply because they have a comfy bed to lie on, and they don’t want to spoil it.

So, the kind of bedding you use tends to depend solely on your dog’s individual behavior. It’s really a case of trial and error. 

Can You Hear Your Dog?

Most dogs and puppies won’t deliberately poop in their crate. So, it’s most likely that your pet will cry to grab your attention and tell you that he needs to go outside. That also tells your puppy that you understand him when he asks to go out, which is perfect for successful potty training.

That’s great, provided that you can hear your dog. However, if you’re a deep sleeper or your puppy’s crate is too far away from you, you’ll never hear his requests to go out, and an accident could result.

The easiest way to get around the problem is to simply relocate the crate to your bedroom or place it right outside where you can hear your pet if he wakes during the night. A baby monitor is also a useful tool for pet parents with a sick dog or a very young puppy. A monitor will allow you to hear the sound of your puppy crying so that you can get there before it’s too late.

Does Your Dog Need More Exercise?

Some breeds of dogs are more intelligent than others, but all canines need mental stimulation and plenty of exercise to keep them happy. Puppies can become very destructive if they don’t get enough playtime, especially when they’re teething. But did you know that a bored puppy can quickly become stressed and that stress can lead to pooping?

So, making sure that you give your pup a good run, a game of fetch, or even a training session right before bedtime can help to ensure that your dog will sleep right through the night.

Is Your Dog’s Crate A Safe, Secure Den?

Your dog’s crate should be a safe, secure den-like space that he happily retreats to whenever he wants to chill out, relax, and sleep. Never use your dog’s crate as a punishment.

Make sure that the crate contains a snug bed that your dog can get cozy in. Fit the crate with a water bottle or water bowl so that your dog can get a drink whenever he wants one. Finally, consider buying a cover for the crate to give your pup total privacy and a feeling of security.

You should also include some toys to entertain your dog and provide him with something to chew on other than the crate itself or his bedding!

Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety in dogs is a potentially serious condition that can lead to problem behavior, including crate soiling and diarrhea caused by stress.

Some breeds are more prone to suffering from separation anxiety than others. Essentially, the condition occurs when a dog is separated from his owner, and the animal becomes incredibly stressed and upset. Dogs with separation anxiety should be treated with patience and persistence.

Generally, if you have a particularly susceptible dog, the best way to deal with the condition is to arrange for your dog to go to a doggy daycare service while you can’t be around or to have a pet sitter stay with your pet in your home.

Don’t Let Crate Soiling Become A Habit!

Although it goes against your pet’s natural instinct to poop in his crate, puppies learn by repetition, and if you allow your pet to repeatedly soil his crate by not taking preventative action, the behavior will quickly become a habit that’s hard to break.

So, if you have to wake up at night to let your puppy or dog outside, that’s what you need to do until your pet can last right through till the morning. However, if you continue to let your dog poop in his crate, he will learn that that’s okay, and he’ll continue doing it.

What If My Dog Eats His Poop?

Although it’s gross, some dogs do eat their own poop and that of other dogs, too! 

In fact, coprophagia, as the habit is more correctly known, affects between 16% and 23% of adult dogs. So, what causes this disgusting behavior?

There are a number of causes for coprophagia, although the most common reason for the habit is some kind of nutritional deficiency. So, if you catch your dog eating his poop, it’s well worth having a chat with your vet for some advice on your pet’s diet and to have your canine companion health-checked, too.

What Causes Diarrhea In Dogs?

If your puppy or dog has an attack of diarrhea, that will make bowel control much more difficult. Of course, diarrhea and very loose stools in dogs are not normal, although it is something that affects most dogs from time to time. 

Diarrhea can affect your dog for a variety of reasons that range from very dangerous to pretty benign. If you’re aware of what could be causing your pet’s upset tummy, you can take steps to prevent it. So, in this section of our guide, we take a look at the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs to give you a head start.

Digestive Upset

Dogs tend to be walking garbage disposal units, eating pretty much whatever they find lying around. That can be food leftovers, dead and decomposing animal matter, even other animals’ poop!

Also, there are a few items of human food that are potentially very dangerous to your dog, including chocolate and raisins. Eating relatively small amounts of those two things will almost certainly upset your dog’s tummy, causing sickness and diarrhea, and could even be fatal if eaten in volume.

Very young puppies are especially vulnerable to digestive upsets as they have more sensitive digestion than older dogs. Any new treats or kibble should be introduced very gradually to allow your pup’s digestion to acclimatize before you increase the amount.

Intestinal Parasites

After digestive upsets, internal parasites such as worms and Giardia and some medical conditions are the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs. Fortunately, both these parasites are easily treatable and can be prevented by treating your dog regularly with a preventative deworming drug that you’ll get from your vet.

If your dog begins to lose weight, fails to thrive, and suffers from persistent or bloody diarrhea for more than a day or so, take your pet to the vet.

Anxiety And Stress

Although you might think that taking your puppy to training classes or on a playdate with other furbabies is something exciting for your dog to do, such activities can also be extremely stressful.

Even positive excitement and stress can cause bouts of uncontrollable diarrhea in puppies and dogs, so be prepared for that after your pup’s first trip to the dog park or ride in your car. 

Do Crates Cause Diarrhea?

Crates can cause diarrhea if you don’t take the time to introduce your pup to the crate correctly and sympathetically.

If you rush things, your dog or puppy will probably get stressed or frightened, leading to stress and even panic attacks. Never simply put your dog into his crate, shut the door, and leave him! That will almost certainly result in extreme stress, which in turn might result in diarrhea.

The crate must be the correct size for your pet. If the crate is too small, your dog won’t be able to move comfortably, turn around, or lie down, which will stress him out and send his anxiety levels rocketing. Make sure that the crate is comfortable and welcoming for your dog. At first, crate your pet for short periods of time, gradually increasing the duration as your furry friend becomes more confident and settled in his new den.

As mentioned above, if your dog is crying while he’s in his crate, there could be a problem, and you need to check on him.

My Dog Poops And Then Lays In It!

If your dog starts pooping in his crate and then lying down in the mess he’s made, that’s not normal behavior at all.

Lying down in poop is often a behavior that is seen in dogs that come from disreputable breeders or shelters where dogs are accustomed to living in unsanitary conditions. Generally, the cleaner a dog’s environment is during the first couple of months of his life, the higher the chances are that he won’t poop in his crate.

So, what can you do if your puppy poops in his crate and then lies down in it?

Clean Up!

First of all, remove your puppy from the crate and bathe him! Use a proper dog shampoo rather than dish soap or human products, as those are too harsh for a dog’s sensitive skin. 

Give the crate a thorough clean, too. Use disinfectant to get rid of any bacteria that might be clinging to the surfaces. If the crate is a soft-sided one, you might be able to machine wash it, ideally on a hot wash.

Give Your Puppy Plenty Of Potty Breaks

Make sure that you take your puppy outside frequently, especially right after he’s had a meal. Remember that younger puppies need to go outside more often than older dogs, as they have a shorter digestive tract, meaning that they can’t last as long between potty stops.

Monitor Your Dog During Potty Breaks

It can be tempting to simply let your dog outside for a potty break in your backyard and leave him to his own devices, especially if the weather is bad.

However, I recommend that you either watch your dog from your window or accompany him to actually see him do the deed. That way, you can keep an eye on your pet to make sure that he doesn’t have diarrhea and you know that he has been before you all settle down for the night.

If your dog or puppy has loose stools or seems reluctant to go when you know that he should be due to poop, ask your vet for advice in case problems are brewing.

When To Get Professional Help

If you’ve sorted out your dog’s diarrhea and done everything you can to ensure that he’s happy and comfortable in his crate, what do you do if your pet persists in pooping in his crate?

Well, some dogs are more challenging to crate train than others. If you’ve tried everything but you’re still struggling to rule out the undesirable pooping behavior, it’s probably time to seek help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. A professional trainer deals with problem pups on a daily basis and will probably have a straightforward solution to your dilemma. A course of retraining for both you and your dog could be the key to a peaceful night’s sleep and an end to a smelly wake-up call.

In Conclusion

I hope you found our guide to crate puppy potty accidents helpful. If you enjoyed the article, please remember to share it.

Essentially, having your dog or puppy sleep or spend time alone in his crate does not usually cause bouts of diarrhea. Diarrhea is most often caused by digestive upsets or internal parasites, especially in very young puppies, and you should rule out both those causes first by asking your vet for advice. However, if your dog or puppy is prone to separation anxiety, the stress of that condition can sometimes lead to bouts of diarrhea. 

If you’re new to dog ownership and you’re struggling to crate or potty train your puppy, always seek professional help.

How did you stop your furry friend from pooping in his crate? Tell us your secret in the comments box below.

Meet our writer

Alison Page was brought up with dogs and various other pets! For a few years, Alison worked as a Practice Manager in a small animal veterinary clinic. Alison is now a full-time writer, specializing in creating articles on the care and training of dogs, cats, and fish.

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