I've read a few questions here discussing this (slightly), and it appears that one answer suggests dividing the cage somehow and letting one half be a bathroom area, and one half where the puppy can rest. This denotes that the cage is not empty.

From what I've read elsewhere and have been told, the cage should be completely empty so that if/when the puppy goes in her cage, she will realize she is stuck with a puddle of her urine in her cage and nowhere to go which should in turn get her to stop urinating in her cage.

What is the proper thing to do in this situation? Should the cage have some sort of towel for a cushion from the hard plastic tray, or should we leave it empty and let the puppy stick it out? Shes usually in the crate from about 10pm to 6am. She is currently about 11 weeks old and the potty training adventure has really only just begun.

  • Dog should have access to water.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 1, 2017 at 14:54
  • 1
    Do not give the dog access to water overnight.
    – jalynn2
    Feb 3, 2017 at 13:54

3 Answers 3


I agree with Layna, toilet training and crate training are 2 different things. A crate should be a sanctuary for your puppy, a place of safety, a place of her own where she/he can retreat safely, like a den in the wild.

There's several ways to train your puppy to use the crate but this is what I did:

First make it comfortable with blankets and old duvets. The crate needs to have a blanket over the top, like a roof to simulate den conditions.

You need to make the puppy understand the above by associating the crate with positive experiences. Food is by far the best reward. Keep the crate open, and lure your puppy closer and closer. Eventually placing a treat in the crate. Repeat several times until the puppy feels comfortable or goes in on its own. A command can be added later. This may have to be repeated several times. If the puppy gets in the crate, getting hugs and fuss in the crate is really useful to emphasise security. I also used to feed my dog in it as well.

If you want to close the door, you can sit next to the crate when your puppy is in until they start sleeping and relaxing. Then I slowly closed the door and stayed there whilst reading, enhancing calmness. Did it several times a day till the closed door didn't bother the dog. Then I start on moving away, a few feet at the time, until I can do anything around the house. Don't go too fast. Don't be afraid to go back a step. The most effective training is for the puppy to work it out with your guidance. Never force a dog to do something, crate should never be associated with negative experiences. Good luck


Walking your puppy at night might be detrimental to the aim you're trying to achieve: basically your puppy being able to hold it all night! I understand it might be necessary but you should focus more about bladder emptying during the day. Dogs love routines, it makes them feel safe. If you organise a strong routine through the day, nights should get quickly sorted. If a dog was wild, this would be a typical day: Get up at dawn(birds usually give them the queue) Out of the den to look for food. This can last all day if they're not good or very quickly if you have a clever one(which you do!). This is simulated by the walk! That's why you should always feed your dog after walking it. If their belly is full, it's back to the den to sleep all day... or until they are hungry again. Then back out again looking for food. Then back to the den.. and so on. Then sleep all night, without need to go for a pee. In all that, they empty their bladders as they look for food. You'll notice that an adult dog never empty its bladder in one go. What they do is leave little messages that they've been there, for others and for themselves for different purposes.

You need to get the puppy in a similar routine and wee training will work. Of course biology is a factor and she needs to grown in her bladder control, so be sensible.

I hope that helps. Focusing just on bladder control is not the exact answer, giving your puppy structure is. Hope that helps. Good luck!

  • So far, the sit down next to cage and wait for the puppy to sleep trick seems to be working. She is much more calm in the cage when someone is sitting there with her. I back away very slowly once she is relaxed. For now, I am walking her every 2 hours at night to relieve herself. No more accidents in the cage so far. I've also made the cage much more comfy (Added a blanket, some toys, and a pillow).
    – Timmy Jim
    Feb 3, 2017 at 13:59
  • I have added to my answer above. Don't go too fast with crate training. Take your time. Crate training is where you teach your dog down time and autonomy. It is really valuable to avoid any stress and anxiety.
    – user33232
    Feb 3, 2017 at 17:51
  • So should I walk her at night? I mainly do it so that she doesn't soil the objects in the cage. So far, she can't hold her bladder for more than 4 hours at most I would say. As you said, the biological factors make this the case. Once she ages some, I'm hoping she will be able to hold it until the morning so I won't have to walk her at night. And once she is fully developed, we probably won't use a cage at all. That's the plan at least.
    – Timmy Jim
    Feb 3, 2017 at 18:00
  • You should concentrate on the day training and help biology at night as a side show. Once you use a crate, you should keep it, it's part of your dog's life. Take her out for a wee before you go to bed. Maybe one more time after 4 hours and as biology improves, work to make her last longer
    – user33232
    Feb 3, 2017 at 18:12

Two points should be made here.

First: your puppy is not able to control it's bladder fully yet! No matter it it realises it will sit in pee or not, it will need to go. The general rule to follow is: your puppy can control it's bladder for one hour for each month of age. So, at 2 months, that's 2 hours, at 3 months, that's 3 hours, and so on.

Second: The idea behind the crate it that it is a comfortable place for the dog. It is a peaceful, relaxed place, where the dog will happily go all by itself. This may also be important later: If it is loud and stressful in the house, because of a party, major repairs or something like that, the crate should be a place of retreat for the dog, not a place to be "just out of the way" so the humans are not disturbed.
So: make the puppy comfortable! So, got with puppy-pads, a tray with towels, whatever works out for your puppy, and make sure the puppy has a cuddly, clean place as well.

Good luck with training, and enjoy the time with your puppy! :)


To add to what the other answers are saying, I think you're misconstruing the idea of a long-term confinement area (over 4 hours is long-term) with a crate. In a long-term confinement area, you have a relatively large area, such as the 4x4' area that most exercise pens enclose. Inside that, you have a crate with the door open or removed. Because the puppy can get out, most will not potty in there. This should be comfortable and welcoming, as others have said.

Also inside the confinement area, you should have an area where it's ok to potty. Some people use pee pads or newspapers. Others use things that are more like going outdoors, like a piece of sod in a large pan or a sand box. The reasoning behind the latter is that the puppy never gets used to peeing on things that are like things you will have on the floor. I hope this clarifies.

  • I've read a lot about leaving the door open/removing the door of the cage. I don't understand how that works. How is the dog going to stay in the cage if they can always get out? I don't really have an area to put the cage in that I can seal off so she cannot escape, but if I did, I'm sure she would not enter the cage still.
    – Timmy Jim
    Feb 2, 2017 at 18:49
  • 1
    If you are in a room with a ceramic floor and a couch, are you going to choose to sit on the floor or sit on the couch? If the crate is comfortable, she will choose to go in the crate when she wants to sleep. As she gets older, you may choose to teach her that sometimes you will shut the door and she needs to stay there, but there's no law that says that's the only way to raise a dog. You might want to invest in a copy of "Crate Games" by Susan Garrett if you want to learn more about teaching a dog to love her crate. Feb 2, 2017 at 19:42
  • I believe that night-time is different from day time: 6-8 hours in a crate at night is not long-term. A sleeping puppy does not need to eliminate. Also, IMHO, OP, setting up an environment where a puppy can eliminate in the house is confusing if your goal is to completely house-train him. I know of breeders who have many dogs and use the "potty areas in a play pen" approach because they don't have time to properly exercise each dog, and some train them to only go in that confined area so they don't have accidents in the show ring.
    – jalynn2
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:03
  • Some puppies can hold it all night, others can't. If you take it to an extreme of never letting a puppy eliminate inside, you'd be trying to take puppies out as soon as they can stand at 3 weeks, which I've actually done. However, most breeders do not do this and the puppies housebreak just fine. IMO, it's more important to housebreaking that the dog develop a positive association with the crate and not learn to potty in the crate than that it never potties in the house. Any puppy that wasn't reared outside has pottied inside at some point. Feb 6, 2017 at 17:14

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