Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to stop a dog from peeing in their crate for good in 5 easy-to-follow steps

These tricks will keep your house — and his — pee free

A yellow Labrador retriever puppy lying on a red bed inside a wire crate.
Parilov / Shutterstock

As pet parents, we’d like to think that we have every solution for behavior issues, like how to stop a dog from peeing in his crate. Your buddy can’t exactly tell you why he pees in the crate when you’re not home, though, and you can’t always catch him in the act — so it can be tricky.

Luckily, with a keen eye and a few trial runs, you’ll figure out the problem in no time. You can always enlist your family, vet, or local doggie daycare to keep an eye out, too, but it’s up to you to make the necessary changes to change the behavior. Anything from a more consistent routine to a new treat-dispensing toy could be the difference between cleaning up a puddle or coming home to a happy pup.

Here’s how to stop your dog from peeing in his crate.

a pitbull puppy lies in their crate with their head nestled in blankets, looking up with sad eyes
J.A. Dunbar / Shutterstock

First, rule out medical issues as a cause for crate incontinence

Before anything else, it’s important to make sure your fur baby is in good health, so you should book a visit to your vet. Many medical issues could cause a dog to lose control of their bladder, not all of which are obvious or even noticeable. Dogs are notorious for hiding their discomfort, after all.

A few reasons your dog might not be able to hold it include:

  • Urinary tract disorders, including urinary tract infections, prostate diseases, etc.
  • Neurological issues, including spinal injury and nerve damage
  • Bladder storage issues
  • Urine retention due to stress, pain, etc.
  • Bladder or vestibular tumors

A more complete list can be found on the website of the Veterinary Centers of America.

Dog sleeping in a crate.
Jennay Hitesman / Shutterstock

Make sure the crate is the right size for your dog’s measurements

If your dog’s crate is too big, he’ll have plenty of room to relieve himself in a corner away from where he sleeps. Living like this, when there’s no consequence to peeing in the crate, he has no reason not to do it. When your pup has to lie in his urine, however, he’s likely to think twice about where he goes.

If you have a crate that your dog is still growing into, you can purchase a crate divider panel to make the space a little smaller.

WH_Pics / Shutterstock

Keeping your pup on a routine can prevent him from peeing in his crate

Dogs thrive on routine, so taking them out to use the bathroom at the same times every day will be especially easy for them to get used to. It will reduce their anxiety since they’ll know exactly when they’ll get to go outside, and they won’t stress that they’ll have to go too long without relief.

For a schedule to truly help your dog, you need to understand how long he can comfortably control his bladder. This time will vary from dog to dog — breed, age, and health are just a few of the factors that affect this. Dogs should be taken out for a potty break three to five times a day on average, though this number is likely to go up for smaller dogs, puppies, and seniors.

a brown dog lies in their crate with their head on their paw and looks at the camera
Ayla Verschueru / Unsplash

Use positive association to help with your dog’s separation anxiety concerns

Many dogs urinate in the house or their crate because of an unresolved emotional issue. Separation anxiety is common in pups with a history of abuse, though any dog can become anxious when left alone. If your dog urinates in front of you, however, you can likely rule this out.

To ease separation anxiety, help your dog learn to enjoy being in his crate (via ASPCA). You can make his crate more comfortable by tossing in a favorite toy, a fluffy bed, or even a shirt that smells like you. Give your buddy a treat every time you leave the house, so he’ll make a positive association between the treat and your departure. Better yet, fill up a treat-releasing toy for a long-lasting distraction.

Yorkshire terrier in wire crate.
Konstantin Zaykov / Shutterstock

Will dogs pee in their crate at night?

If you sleep for eight hours per night, you will need to get up to let her out — a young puppy won’t be able to hold it that long. Up to at least six months of age, your animal will almost certainly need a middle-of-the-night pee. It can help to bring the crate into the bedroom so you wake up when she needs a potty break. Many dogs will whine, pace, or bark when they need to go out, even late at night. To help stretch it out a bit, consider putting up her water a few hours before bed so that the urge to go isn’t as strong while she sleeps.
a corgi sits on a pink blanket inside of a crate
Jus_Ol / Shutterstock

Rethink your expectations as you go through the process

Is your dog truly ready to be left alone in his crate for long periods? If you have a particularly young puppy at home, he might need a while longer to grow and keep house training before he is continually successful. To determine how long your puppy can hold his urine (on average), add 1 to the number of months in his age — this is how many hours you should expect him to be in control of his bladder. Of course, this can’t be guaranteed for every pup, but it’s a helpful rule of thumb.

Some dogs need more time to get used to their crate, while others need to be house-trained more thoroughly. Take the time to get to know your pup, and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect in the future. Good things take time!

As frustrating as a mess in the crate can be, it’s not a permanent issue. Once you can find the reasons behind your dog’s incontinence, you can work with him to make some changes and solve the issue. When in doubt, your trusted vet will have many ideas and resources to help you get started. Pee-free crate time will be so much nicer for everyone, so why not begin now?

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
Is a puppy playpen better than a crate? Here’s what to consider before you buy one for your dog
Stuck between a puppy playpen or a crate for your dog? This guide will help
A beige Akita puppy stands on their back legs inside a pink wire playpen

Keeping your fur baby out of trouble around the house can be trickier than you might think. Tiny dogs can make big messes. Crates and playpens are just two ways pet parents keep their puppies safe and teach them where to sleep, play, and use the restroom; but these two helpful tools actually have quite different purposes. At first glance, however, crates look awfully small and more enclosed compared with pens. This may leave many pet owners wondering: Is a puppy playpen better than a crate?

Spoiler alert: Nope. While a plastic dog playpen leaves room for pups to run around and play, a canine-specific crate certainly has its time and place. However, what’s the difference between a crate and a playpen for your puppy?

Read more
5 easy-to-make DIY dog treats that you can make for your pup this fall
Fall-inspired DIY dog treats you can whip up
A marble countertop with miniature pumpkins and fall-themed dog treats

There are so many festive fall foods, but finding the perfect homemade dog treat recipe for your autumn gathering can be trickier than you think. Luckily, many of this season’s freshest crops and ingredients are healthy, nutritious autumn additions to your dog’s diet. Pumpkin, apple, even cinnamon … these flavors practically scream "fall."
Even if you don’t have any big plans, baking up some cute and healthy homemade dog treats is a great way to bond with your dog when the weather gets cozy. Food-motivated pups will especially appreciate these DIY dog treats, and you’ll love the sweet, cozy vibes you’ll get from cooking for your fur baby. It’s the perfect night in!

How to prepare pumpkin spice for dogs -- because even dogs should get a taste of this autumn delicacy
While you're sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, there's no reason your furry friend should miss out. Luckily, there's a dog-safe recipe for pumpkin spice that you can make from home.
However you want to prepare these autumnal ingredients, you should know a few things about pumpkin spice for dogs. Pumpkin on its own is full of nutrients, such as vitamins and iron; plus, its high fiber content can regulate finicky digestive systems (via American Kennel Club). Just ensure your dog doesn’t get added sugars with her pumpkin, as this isn’t good for her.
When preparing your spice mix, remember to avoid nutmeg. This ingredient isn’t healthy for pups, and it can easily be substituted for a similar flavor. Instead, a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, and a dash of vanilla extract will do. Use these ingredients to spice up nearly any biscuit, yogurt, or pumpkin-flavored dog treat--for you or your pup!

Read more
Is crate training necessary? There are pros and cons on both sides
Here are the things you should think about before deciding whether to crate train
A yellow Labrador retriever puppy lying on a red bed inside a wire crate.

Crate training is one of the most polarizing topics among pet parents, with some claiming that keeping your pup in a crate for any length of time is cruel and may lead to behavioral problems, aggression, and separation anxiety. On the flip side, many pet parents, veterinarians, and dog trainers recommend crate training as a way to keep your pup safe from harm when you're not at home. Is crate training necessary? We'll not only tackle both sides of this complicated issue once and for all, but we'll also share how to potty-train a puppy without a crate. Here's what you should know. 

The case against crate training
According to some pet parents, crate training is "lazy training." Opponents believe some people take the easy way out and crate their pups instead of training them properly. One of the main arguments is that dogs are social animals and require attention and physical affection to form a solid bond with their human family members. And we're inclined to agree with certain aspects of these arguments against crating dogs. When used as a supplementary form of training, crating can be invaluable, but it shouldn't be used in place of training your dog.

Read more