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When puppies pee in their crates, puppy owners are often confused. Aren't crates meant to help puppies hold their pee?

Dog crates are a hot topic among puppy parents. They have the potential to spark up some fierce debate.

While some puppy parents see the crate as a torture device and consider it a punishment, others accept the benefits that come with the crate – from limiting the pup’s destructive tendencies, while unsupervised to helping with the toilet training.

In fact, because of the so-called denning instinct, the toilet training process is hard to manage without a crate.

Introducing the Denning Instinct 

The denning instinct is the dog’s natural and intuitive tendency to sleep and spend time in an enclosed and safe area. The crate can provide exactly that. 

Dogs are generally clean animals and prefer not to pee or poop where they sleep, and that is why crates are part of the training process.

However, some puppies choose to pee in their crates for some reason or another. If you are going through the same issue with your puppy, keep reading, as we will review all possible causes why puppies pee in their crates.

Why Do Puppies Pee in Their Crates?

Identifying the reason why your puppy pees in the crate may not be as easy as expected. Following are several potential causes, but it's a good idea to mention this to the vet if your puppy keeps on peeing in it.

Medical Health Issues

If your otherwise toilet-trained puppy starts peeing in its crate, schedule an appointment with your trusted vet.

 Ruling out medical reasons should be the first task on your to-do list. After all, you do not want to scold your pup for peeing if a health issue triggered the peeing! Plus, why risk the problem to progress when you can contain it sooner?

The most common medical reason for crate peeing in puppies is a urinary tract infection. Urinary infections can be the result of pathogenic bacteria, a systemic issue, or stones or crystals.

Regardless of the cause, the puppy will feel the urge to pee extremely frequently and not hold it until released from the crate. Usually, a puppy with a urinary infection will produce small amounts of urine, but often and sometimes, the urine can be bloody or pinkish. 

Overactive bladder is also a possible medical reason for peeing in the crate. However, it is more common in older dogs. Some puppies can experience overactive bladder when spayed at an early age.

Poor Toilet Training

Improperly housebroken puppies have trouble understanding the concept of right and wrong toilet places. They do not understand when and where they are supposed to potty.

The toilet training process is challenging and requires tons of patience and dedicated work. 

It should be noted that toilet training can be particularly difficult with certain dog breeds. The list of dog breeds notorious for their inability to understand the housebreaking process includes:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Bichon Frise
  • Beagles
  • Dachshunds
  • Dalmatian
  • Jack Russell terrier
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug

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Long Crate Times

It is unreasonable to put your puppy in the crate for a couple of hours and expect it not to pee. Puppies have small bladders and need to pee frequently.

 It would be best to be mindful of their ability to refrain from urination and plan the potty breaks accordingly.

Every puppy is different. However, the general rule of thumb is that puppies can hold it one hour for every month of their age. For example, a 2-month puppy can keep it for two hours and a 3-month puppy for three hours.

So, if you left your 2-month old puppy in its crate for more than two hours, it is unreasonable not to expect pee puddles in the crate.

Keep in mind that, at night during sleep time, you need to wake up your puppy for potty breaks – just because your puppy is sleeping does not mean its bladder is not working.

Puppis often pee in their crates when crated for longer than they can hold it. 

Puppis often pee in their crates when crated for longer than they can hold it. 

Inappropriate Crate Sizing

This may sound like an unusual excuse, but it is a real issue. Your puppy may pee in its crate if the crate is of the wrong size.

Namely, the whole concept of using the crate as a potty training tool lies in the dog’s denning instinct and reluctance to soil its bed. 

If the crate is too big, the puppy may see this as an opportunity to potty without worrying about the mess – the crate is big enough to serve as both a bathroom and bedroom.

In this case, downsizing the crate will offer a quick and straightforward solution, but not a budget-friendly one, as you will have to invest in an additional crate.

Puppy Mill Dogs

Puppies rescued from mills, adopted from shelters, and bought from pet stores are very likely to pee in their crates. 

This is because these puppies are used to live in small confined places and do all of their daily activities in one place – sleeping, eating, playing, and peeing and pooping.

When it comes to these puppies, potty training can be a real challenge as they already have formed habits.

Tiny Dogs

Finally, peeing in the crate is much more prevalent among tiny dogs. There are several reasons why toy dogs are more prone to soiling their crates, including:

  • Toy dogs are more likely to come from pet stores and puppy mill situations and living arrangements
  • Toy dogs have particularly small bladders which make the holding time very short
  • Toy dogs are more likely to form a habit of peeing inside their crates because their peeing usually goes unnoticed by the owners – spotting a coin-sized puddle, especially on a thick bedding is not an easy task.

Concluding Thoughts 

If your puppy was classified as toilet trained, and now suddenly starts making mistakes inside its crate, it is crucial to get to the bottom of the problem and determine the underlying reasons.

You cannot fix the problem unless you know what is causing it. In the meantime, do not scold or punish your puppy for making a mistake. U

Finally, in some cases, if dealing with the crate peeing seems overwhelming, do not hesitate to ask for professional help and hire a dog behaviorist or trainer to guide you through the process.

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