Crate training for puppies

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Puppies are often crate trained as part of an introduction to a new household. This can be an effective way of helping puppies to feel safe, secure and to prevent injury overnight. However, things do not always go smoothly and crate soiling or messing can be a frustrating aspect of toilet training for owners. If faces are normal and the puppy is well in itself, it may be that your puppy has not got the hang of toilet training yet. However, there are some medical reasons why a puppy may pass faeces in the crate, particularly if the pet is suffering from diarrhoea.

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Causes of crate soiling

  • Anxiety

  • Medications

  • Parasites or wormers

  • Diet changes

  • Infections/tummy bugs

  • Dietary indiscretion

  • Too young to be able to hold on

Signs of ill-health

If your puppy is passing faeces more frequently than normal, has diarrhoea or soft faeces, or if blood or mucus is present then this suggests there is a problem with the intestinal tract. Other signs may include straining to pass faeces, worms present in faeces, lethargy or a reduced appetite.

Prevention of crate soiling

  • Introduce crate training in gentle steps to make sure your puppy is comfortable and calm in the crate.

  • Ensure worming treatment is up to date. See our article on intestinal worms for more information

  • Introduce diet changes gradually over the course of 5-7 days

  • Introduce new foods such as treats slowly

  • Seek advice for diarrhoea. See our article or vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs for more information

  • Feed correctly for age, weight, expected growth. See our article on choosing an appropriate diet for your puppy for more information.

  • Feed at regular intervals appropriate for age

What to do if your puppy is crying in its crate?

If your puppy is crying it can be difficult to know whether this is due to toileting or just not appreciating being in the crate. Follow the below steps.

  • Do not feed your puppy too close to bedtime, around 5pm latest. Make sure your puppy is tired with play before sleep time and make sure they have had sufficient exercise in the day

  • Before putting your puppy in the crate for the night, take them on a short walk or trip around the garden to give them time to toilet

  • Make sure the crate is in a suitable place, warm, quiet, dark and dry. Make sure it is big enough and your puppy has a comfy bed

  • If your puppy cries immediately, then ignore the puppy. If it has not settled after half an hour, go to the puppy and take them straight into the garden with no fussing, attention or play. Just out to the toilet and back in

  • The same technique should be used at night if your puppy wakes up. This teaches them that crying only gets them a potty break

  • If your puppy persistently cries in the crate and gets very stressed, it may just not be a suitable temperament for crate training. You could instead try a small room or playpen. Persisting when your puppy is distressed can lead to other issues so it is important to accept that crate training will not suit every dog

  • In the day it is sensible to give your puppy food and treats in the crate with the door open to make it a positive environment to be in

  • Get into a consistent routine. It may take a few days for your puppy to learn the ropes, but trying to stick to similar feeding, toileting, bedtime and wake up will help you avoid accidents

When to see a vet

If you notice signs of ill health, such as diarrhoea and puppies should also visit a vet to discuss a comprehensive worming programme and complete health and weight checks.

Still worried?

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