Why Is My Dog Pooping in the House?

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If you own a dog, you've likely asked yourself, "Why is my dog pooping in the house?" Sometimes the answer is easy; other times, not so much.

Most people understand that when you bring a new puppy home, accidents are likely. But what about those times a trained dog starts doing its business in your dining room? With dogs in an estimated 48 million households, the question “Why is my dog pooping in the house?” is all too common.

Figuring out the cause of the sudden change and how to stop it can be a real mystery. Fortunately, our furry friends may offer a few clues with their actions to help you solve this issue in short order.

Why Is My Dog Pooping in My House?

Unlike humans, dogs can’t tell you how they’re feeling. They use other methods — like pooping in the house — to let you know something may not be right. Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a mixed-animal veterinarian based in Idaho, explains why dogs may start relieving themselves indoors.

Not fully potty-trained yet

One simple explanation could be your pet isn’t fully potty-trained. It’s possible your dog has learned to pee outside first, but hasn’t grasped the concept of pooping outside.

If you think this might be the case, be sure to give your dog lots of time and praise while outdoors. Also, use a single command to indicate it’s time to go to the bathroom, such as “go.” Then give even more praise when they do.

Easily distracted

When outside, give your dog plenty of time to go. It could be they’re easily distracted by outside noises and activities, which means they may not finish their business when they should.

Don’t let them go outside by themselves. Stay with them and continue giving the single-word commands as a reminder.

Anxiety

Dogs may poop inside to avoid facing something that scares them outside. The anxiety could occur for lots of reasons, like weather (too hot or too cold), passing cars or the continuous barking of a neighbor’s dog.

Medical

Several medical conditions could cause unexplained pet accidents in the home. “Anything that causes diarrhea or an urgency to go, such as parasites, infections, a food allergy, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer, can make it so that dogs don’t have a chance to get outside before they need to go,” Bonk says.

Look for changes in feces consistency or color, frequency in pooping and changes in their appetite.

Aging

Older dogs may simply not be able to hold it any longer, or they may forget where they need to go to the bathroom.

How To Stop a Dog from Pooping in the House

Getting to the source of the problem is the first step in solving the pooping mystery.

  • Rule out age or medical reasons. A visit to the vet will confirm if your dog is experiencing a medical or age-related condition. If it’s caused by one of these, the vet can advise on the best course of action or possibly prescribe medicine.

  • Use a schedule. Create (and stick to!) a schedule to encourage pooping outside and not inside. As dogs age or household routines change, it may be easy to forget how essential a schedule is to a dog.

  • Increase potty time. Whether you let your dogs outside in the yard or take them for extended walks, bringing them out more often throughout the day will signal to them to go outdoors instead of in.

  • Create a safe place. Establishing a safe, quiet place outside can help reduce dog anxiety. You can also encourage your dog to use a spot that’s out of the way to avoid their anxiety triggers.

  • Clean up the messes right away. Be sure to remove and thoroughly clean any messes in the home with an effective enzyme cleaner. “Lingering odor is like a magnet, attracting your dog and begging them to poop there again,” Bonk says. “Remember, just because you don’t smell anything in the area you just cleaned doesn’t mean your dog can’t.” An enzyme cleaner will help neutralize the odor and not simply mask it, so your pet won’t be tempted to return to this spot to go.

  • Use training items. As a last resort, Bonk suggests placing a pee pad or indoor artificial grass potty pad where your dog regularly poops. Once your dog is trained to use these, you can start gradually moving them towards the door. Stick with encouraging and reminding your dog to go outside, and eventually they will understand that outdoors is the best place to go.

Sara Coleman
Hi, I'm Sara Coleman. Writer and Ghostwriter, ready to work with businesses to create amazing stories. I am a full-time writer specializing in articles about personal finance and lifestyle topics.