Method #2 – Crate Training

NOTE: This article is part of a series of articles on indoor potty training for your puppy or older dog. Before starting any of the training outlined below, make sure to read the main Indoor Potty Training article to learn the basics for teaching your dog to go potty on pee pads, in a dog litter box or on an artificial grass potty tray.

The crate training method is a good choice for owners who don’t have an appropriate space for creating a confinement area and for those whose dogs escape from their confinement areas. This method is also helpful for those whose dogs are not responding well to the small confinement area – for instance, being destructive when confined or pottying in the bed or food area instead of the potty area. It will only work for owners who are able to take their dogs out frequently for potty breaks. Please see the chart below for guidelines:

  6-12 weeks 12-16 weeks 4-5 months 6-7 months 8-11 months 12 months and older
daytime 1 hour 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours 5-6 hours 8 hours
nighttime* 3-4 hours 4-8 hours 8 hours 8 hours 8 hours 8-10 hours

*nighttime hours assume that the puppy or dog was not fed or watered less than 3 hours before bed

Rather than leaving your dog in a confinement area with access to his potty area when you’re away, you’ll be leaving him confined in his crate. He’ll need to learn to wait to pee and poo until you get him out and take him to his potty area. To train your puppy using this method, follow the instructions outlined in the crate training article, using trips to his indoor potty area in place of trips outside.

SAFETY NOTE: Your dog should never wear a collar when left unsupervised in his crate, because he could get it caught on any number of things – especially if he attempts to escape. You must be absolutely sure that your crate is secure, as an escape attempt could injure or even kill your dog.

Choose an indoor potty area as outlined in Indoor Potty Training. If your dog is a puppy or in the early phases of training, his crate should be kept close to his potty area so he can get from the crate to the potty area quickly without having an accident. The crate can stay there long-term, or if it isn’t in a convenient spot, you can move it farther away as your dog has more control and becomes more reliable.

As with the confinement area method, you may also find it helpful to carry your dog to his papers for the first couple of weeks so you can prevent accidents from happening on the way there. Once he’s matured a bit and is getting the idea, you’ll definitely need to let him walk with you to the papers so he can learn the path he’ll need to use to get there on his own later in training. As your puppy becomes more familiar with the location of his potty area, let him go there anytime you see him trying to head in that direction. You’ll need to follow him at first, of course, to be sure he doesn’t take a detour or have an accident along the way.

When your dog is at least 6 months old and has been reliable about using his potty area with NO accidents for at least 1 month, begin allowing him more freedom. Assuming that your puppy has no other behavioral issues that require him to be crated when alone, you can stop using the crate and move to confining him in the room that his potty area is in. Gradually increase his access to the house one room at a time, using puppy gates, exercise pens or closed doors to keep him where you want him. Most dogs do well on a schedule of adding a new room each (accident-free!) month. However, if you find that your dog begins having accidents in his newly expanded area, this means that you’re advancing too fast for him. You’ll need to go back to the smaller area temporarily, then try again in a month if your puppy is continuing to do well. Continue expanding your dog’s area until he can reliably get to his potty area from anywhere in the house.

Purchase Supplies Related to This Article

Midwest Life Stages Crate

This all-purpose crate is an especially practical choice for young puppies, since it comes with a divider that allows you to expand the crate as your puppy grows so it’s always just the right size.

Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel Crate

These sturdy Vari-Kennel plastic crates are ideal for dogs that like a cozy place to hang out. You can use them for travel, too, so they’re perfect for pups who want to join you when you go on vacation!

Wire Crate with Wood Frame

This crate is a perfect option if you want an attractive crate but have a pup that may have accidents or nibble on an all-wood crate. It’s easy to clean and there are wire panels between your pup and the finished wood frame.

Porch Potty

The Porch Potty is a nice-looking potty area for indoor or outdoor use. It’s a nice size for bigger dogs, but I recommend it for smaller dogs, too, if you have the space. Can be used with the included fake grass, or even better,

replacement REAL grass… or sod from the home-improvement store!

Real Grass for Porch Potty

This real replacement grass for the Porch Potty is great, especially for dogs that have previously been trained to go outside but now need to learn to use an indoor potty area.

Dog Litter Box

This litter box is ideal for tiny dogs or puppies. Can be used with dog litter, newspaper or potty pads. I recommend getting the larger size, even if you have a teeny dog!

Exercise Pen w/ Walk-Through Gate

This exercise pen has a walk-through gate and comes in several heights (if your dog’s a climber, get a tall one!). Can be used in multiple configurations as a pen or room divider, or be connected to a second pen to create a large play area.

Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover

Nature’s Miracle is everyone’s favorite stain and odor neutralizer. Be sure to use this product to clean up all accidents… regular floor cleaner won’t fully eliminate the odor!

Potty Pads

Wee-Wee Pads are basic potty pads for puppies or smaller dogs. The built-in attractant scent will help your pup figure out what the pads are for!

Back to Main Indoor Potty Training Article

Back to Articles index