How to Crate Train A Dog For Potty Training

crate train a dog for potty training
Photo Credit: PourquoiPas,

Potty training (also known as house training) a dog is one of the most important actions that a dog parent must take to create a healthy and happy environment for the puppy and the entire family.

Research should be done prior to this training, to help you create a formidable plan and allocate time to this training.

There are three main ways to potty train a dog. They are paper training, umbilical cord training, and crate training.

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Potty Training A Dog

This takes a lot of patience, consistency, and rewards to achieve. It could take up to 6 months before a puppy would be totally housetrained. You must take your dog out frequently to eliminate and at a specific spot too.

A smaller puppy would have a smaller bladder and therefore would need more frequent trips than a larger dog.

If the dog was older before becoming a part of the family, you need to work harder to break its former habit before instilling new habits.

There would be setbacks but if you are consistent and always reward the dog when it eliminates in the right place, success in potty training your dog would be achieved eventually.

These steps should be taken while training a dog:

  • Make the dog’s mealtimes regular and get rid or snack time and in-between meals.
  • Once the dog wakes up, take it to the toilet and continue taking it there every 30 minutes.
  • Take it to the spot after every meal or after a nap.
  • Take the dog out to eliminate before bedtime.
  • Stay at the spot with the dog until it does its business and give praise or treat whenever it takes a dump at the designated spot.

What Is A Dog Crate?

The crate, also known as a dog cage or kennel is a frame made from plastic or metal that the dog can see as a safe place. It usually has a tray and some beddings to provide comfort for the dog when it is in there.

There are several sizes of crates and they are made with either plastic or metal.

While plastic crates might not be the best for a home crate due to its visibility limitations, it is ideal for traveling since it is the accepted type of crate for air travel.

Plastic crates are also ideal for puppies that love secluded areas and are not scared of enclosed places. They can also offer more privacy to a dog during a party in the home or when a busy activity is going on.

Metal crates, on the other hand, are the best for crate training. This is because they are easier to assemble and can be easily constructed to fit the size of the dog.

It also provides higher ventilation and visibility for the dog, unlike the plastic crates. They are also easier to clean and are escape-proof.

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Crate Training Procedures

The right crate size is needed before crate training can begin. The crate should not be too small that the dog needs to squeeze in and out of it.

It should not also be too big. All the dog needs to do is to be able to lie down, turn around and stand up in it.

You can buy a crate that has dividers. As the dog grows, you can keep adjusting the divider to accommodate the growth. Steps to be taken in dog crate crating are:


It is advised that the crate should be placed in a room that the dog usually spends time in. If the dog already made the den, it is best to keep the crate on that spot. Open the door and allow the dog to feel comfortable in it.

If the dog is not willing to enter the crate, you can stand around the crate, place some treats around and speak to it in a fun and friendly manner.

If the dog still doesn’t walk in, place some treats in the dog crate and give it praise when it enters.

Place a favorite toy in the crate as it can also increase the chances of the dog getting comfortable enough to enter. If the dog starts to whine when the crate is closed, find out what the problem is and reduce the crate time.

Try not to open the crate every time the dog whines, else it will start whining just to get out.

Feed the Dog In its Crate

When the dog is now comfortable with the crate and starts spending some time before coming out, you can start serving the dog its food in the new den. Start closing the door when the dog starts to eat and open when it is done.

When the dog begins to be comfortable enough to feed while the crate is closed, try to let the dog spend up to 15 minutes after eating before letting it out.

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Introduce Crating Time

When the dog has become comfortable and is beginning to spend up to 10 minutes in the crate without whining, introduce crating time.

Create a time to call your dog to the crate with the use of a treat. You can add a cue word depending on the method the dog responds best to.

Give the dog a treat when it enters the crate, then shut the door and walk away for some minutes before letting the dog out.

Progress slowly until the dog is comfortable in its crate while you are away for up to 30 minutes. Then you can start leaving your dog in the crate when you want to step out.

When you return to the crated dog after leaving the house for some time, do not rush to the crate and do not act as excited as the dog. Open the crate casually after spending some minutes on other activities in the house.

Always extend the period you leave your dog in a crater until it can comfortably spend the night in it.

Does Crate Training Help With Potty Training?

Dogs love having a den, it is one of their natural instincts. It is a place they can feel safe, sleep, take time out, and rest without fear or threat.

A dog can choose a crate as a safe place to sleep at night if it is introduced properly to that dog.

Apart from serving as a den for the dog, a crate can be used as a training tool, a recovery tool, and transportation.

If a dog arrives into a home and a crate is not provided, it usually makes a den for itself. It could be under your reading table, under a dining chair, a corner near the shelf or in the toilet.

If the den is successfully created, it is usually a normal behavior for dogs not to poop there. Dogs do not pee or poop in their dens.

This instinct is why crates are to be used in the training of dogs. A dog will not want to soil its den and if you key into this instinct, you can house train a dog with the use of a crate. In fact, the task of potty training a dog is halfway done if the dog stops soiling their crate.

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How Do You Potty Train A Dog With The Use of A Crate?

A dog needs to eliminate often so it is important to take a dog outside once every hour, at least. This lifestyle can help a dog when it is learning to use the potty.

Take your dog to its toilet when it wakes up, after a meal, before bedtime, and after playing.

Potty training a dog is different from potty training a puppy. It takes a puppy a shorter time interval between potty trips than a dog.

It can be calculated with how many months old the dog is in relation to hours. A month old dog can hold pee for up to one hour. At night, dogs might hold pee for up to 9-10 hours.

It is also helpful to also fix mealtime and work out the housetraining time within this schedule. It is also important to supervise your dog in a crate while potty training.

There are different signs a dog can show while in the crate that can indicate that the dog needs to poop:

  • Whining
  • Circling
  • Sniffing
  • Pacing
  • Scratching the crate
  • No sign at all.

Because the dog doesn’t want to pee or poo in its den (crate), it will keep showing those signs until you take it out. When the dog is out in the yard, take it to a designated spot and use a chosen cue word.

Use the cue word every time the dog is taken out to pee or poop and give a treat or praise every time the dog goes.

Why Did My Dog Pee in The Crate?

It is natural for the dog not to soil their den but sometimes it can happen because of one of the following reasons:

  • As a puppy, it might have been allowed to poop and pee in its bed.
  • The dog held it for too long. It is better to take a dog out too often than to take it out less often.
  • You didn’t understand the signs the dog was giving.
  • The crate is big enough for your dog to map out a den and a toilet area.
  • Sign of a urinary tract infection.
  • The beddings in the crate smell like pee or poop.
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Problems Encountered While House Training A Dog

Professionals believe that the best time to start house training a puppy is when it is 12 weeks old. It is assumed that dogs of such age are now able to control their bladders and bowel better.

Older dogs that already have bad habits of peeing or pooping in their beds, crates or even eating poop might take longer to train than younger puppies.

Accidents may sometimes happen, and it doesn’t mean the dog is not adjusting or you are not doing enough.

It might be caused by a change in the environment, change in the weather or even ill-health. Keep on with the routine and offer rewards if the dog does the right thing.

Things You Should Not Do While Potty Training A Dog

Do not punish a dog when they pee or poop inside the house. It will make the dog develop fear towards you or to become aggressive and make the potty training and other training harder to carry out. The dog might even start pooping in hidden places.

If the dog mistakenly takes a dump inside the house and has already left the spot, do not ever rub their nose in it or yell.

It won’t associate the reaction to the act, rather it will start being distant and the bond of relationship between both of you might be affected.

Always clean dog pee or poop thoroughly so that the dog won’t recognize the odor and assume that the smelling spot is its toilet.

It is always better to hang out more with the dog so that he can get used to its potty. Try to take the dog gently to the potty spot when you catch it on the act without tugging on the leash too hard or kicking.

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Other Potty-Training Methods

Apart from potty training a dog using the crate, it can be done using the paper method and the umbilical cord method.

The Paper Method

This is a traditional method of potty training a dog. It involves training a dog to pee or poop in a paper, synthetic grass, litter tray or a pad kept at a spot in the house.

This method is used because it can serve during periods of bad weather that the dog can’t go outside. It can also be a useful method if you are always away from home and are not present to take your dog out often.

It is also suitable to bed-ridden, sick and convalescing dog parents who can’t take trips with their dogs to their bathroom.

The principle of paper training is based on the fact that dogs eliminate where they have done it before, and they prefer soft and warm surfaces than hard and cold surfaces.

It is therefore important to start by covering the area with a soft material like paper or pads.

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How to House Train A Dog Using the Paper Method

  • Decide the spot you want to use as the dog’s bathroom. The area should be relatively small and should give the dog a feeling of confinement.
  • The floor of the bathroom spot should not be able to absorb the waste products or retain the odor.
  • There should not be rugs or carpets near the dog’s bathroom because it will prefer to go the softer spot than on the paper.
  • Use the material for preparing the toilet and cover the whole room. Keep the dog’s favorite toys and even a bed inside the room to lure it in.
  • Because the whole area is covered, the dog will understand that it should dump on the paper and nowhere else.
  • It is very important to clean up the soiled area as soon as possible. If you are using an odor-fighting cleaner to clean the area, you can leave a piece of soiled paper to introduce the puppy to the area with the odor. A dog will always poop where it can smell its waste.
  • When it starts using a particular area of the room as the toilet spot, slowly reduce the area covered with paper. It is best to start from the area close to the toys and bed and move gradually towards the spot that is farther away.
  • If the dog mistakenly takes a dump on the floor, cover up the area of the room more and give it more time. Keep trying to reduce the area until it stops using the bare floor and constantly uses the paper.
  • When the dog gets used to using only the paper-covered area, reduce the area to a small corner of the room. If it continues to use the covered spot, gradually move the paper to a particular part of the room you want.
  • When you get your dog to use the spot you have chosen, then the training has been successfully completed.
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Disadvantages of The Paper Training Method

The main disadvantage of this method is the notion given to the dog that taking a dump inside the house is normal. When you decide to introduce taking a trip to a potty outside, it might be a difficult habit to adjust to.

If there is no plan to make an indoor bathroom a permanent thing, then this method is not good for you and the dog. Also, dogs that are trained with the paper method are more likely to poop at different spots in the house when they get older and feeble.

Since the dogs have been trained to eliminate on paper or synthetic grass, it might eliminate on magazines and newspapers kept in other places in the house. It might even think that it is ok to eliminate in the lawn or field since it is of the same material and texture as its toilet.

Cleaning up after a dog in the paper method can really be a task. It is always best to clean up the waste as soon as the dog is done. And this can happen several times a day and sometimes after bedtime.

Sometimes when the paper-trained dog takes a walk and needs to take a dump, it finds it difficult to use the sidewalk or bush since it is used to paper or litter trays.

The Umbilical Cord Method

This method involves attaching a dog to yourself by a leash and constantly observing any change in behavior that will indicate that it needs to eliminate. It requires effort, maximum concentration, and constant supervision.

The dog goes everywhere with you and is constantly under your watch. Any time it shows the signs that indicate that it needs a trip to the toilet, you will take it to the designated spot and give a treat when it uses the toilet.

How to House Train A Dog Using the Umbilical Cord Method

  • Wear the dog a leash and collar and attach it to your waist or belt loop. Go about your daily activities and tie your dog to a door handle or furniture when you need to take a break.
  • Be observant and seek help from other family members if you are about to do something that requires your full attention. When the dog shows some signs like whining, sniffing, circling and squatting, take it to the toilet and give a treat afterward.
  • If you catch your dog in the act, do not push or yell or kick. Use a firm cue word to show your disapproval and take it to its toilet. If it continues to eliminate at their toilet, give it a treat. Since the dog is tethered to you, you will always catch it trying to make the mistake.
  • If the dog does not use its toilet after taking it outside, take it inside and repeat it after 5-20 minutes depending on its age.
  • After a while, when the dog gets used to eliminating at the designated spot, let it go off-leash after a while and observe if it is fully trained.
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Disadvantages of the Umbilical Cord Method

  1. The dog is tied to you most of the time and could be tiring.
  2. If your dog is large or pulls hard on the leash, it might cause an ache or a fall.
  3. The dog might take the opportunity when you let it off the leash to take a dump where it wants because it was considering your presence all the while.
  4. The furniture that the dog is tethered to might topple on him if its body weight or pull is bigger than the furniture.