Why Would a House-Trained Dog Start Pooping in Your Home?

Updated on April 22, 2017
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinary hospital assistant, and the author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

I  didn't mean it! I promise!
I didn't mean it! I promise! | Source

A perfectly house-trained dog does not guarantee you will be spared cleaning up accidents in the house for your dog's lifetime. There are many things that can happen, from both a behavioral and physical perspective, that may burst your bubble of thinking your dog will never have an accident in the house again. If you have owned a perfectly house-trained dog up until now, you have some investigative work to do in order to figure out the trigger. Together, we will look at some potential causes for out-of-the-blue bowel movements in your home.

Important Questions to Ask

While obviously, you cannot ask your dog what he is up to, you must turn into some sort of detective to figure out what may be going on in Rover's life. Following are some questions you should ask yourself before pointing your finger and accusing poor Rover of soiling your beloved carpet or couch.

1. What are you feeding? Any recent diet changes?

If you are feeding cheap foods from your supermarket, these will yield more frequent and bulkier bowel movements. For this reason, a premium dog food, even though more expensive, is much preferable, since more nutrients are absorbed and there is less waste. This means smaller stools and on a less frequent basis. Sudden diet changes may cause an upset stomach and a sense of urgency especially, if you have switched to a lower grade food rich of fillers and grains.

2. How is your dog's health? Have you checked for parasites?

There are some disorders which can cause an increase in bowel movements. Some intestinal disorders may cause a sense of urgency with frequent stools which may be hard for your dog to hold on to until he is let out. Intestinal worms are also a cause for more frequent bowel movements and something that should be ruled out. All dog owners should have their dogs' stools checked for parasites at least once a year.

3. Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety?

Some dogs do not do well when they are left alone. Consider your dog a separation anxiety candidate if you come home from work and find messes around the home. To confirm your case, record your dog's behavior when he is left alone: whining, pacing, barking, howling, panting, digging, and pooping are all potential signs of separation anxiety.

4. Is your dog starting to get old?
Some dogs as they age develop a condition known as ''canine cognitive dysfunction'' the dog version of Alzheimer's disease. Affected dogs may have a hard time in several tasks, and potty training is one of them. Your dog may forget how to go outside or give you signs he needs to go.

5. Any new stress, recent changes, new dogs, new family members?
Anything stressful added to a dog's environment may cause a regress in house training. It is not unusual for a well house-trained dog to have an accident in a new home briefly after moving. A dog may even be upset if a new dog is added to a home, or if there are guests or a new baby. Scolding the dog for these accidents will only worsen the anxiety the dog feels.

6. Are you leaving him too long inside?

This may be obvious, but it is certainly worth mentioning. If you are at work all day and make it late, it is not your dog's fault for soiling in the home. Dogs should not be left at home for too long, and if this is your case, you are better off hiring a pet sitter or a dog walker so your dog is free to go outside as needed. Rest assured, if your dog is well house-trained he will have tried to keep it as long as he could but arrived at some point, where he couldn't keep it any longer. He is the last to be blamed in such scenario.

These are a few things that may be going on in your pampered dog's life. Never scold your well house trained dog for soiling in your home: very likely there is something going on and it is definitively not done out of spite.

Questions & Answers

  • My dog is a year and a half old, and I clean his litter pan monthly. With the same litter in the same place. This time though, he decides to poop all the way across from the litter pan for no reason. Why would he do this?

    If he has always been perfect in using the litter pan, and this is a new behavior, it may be worth giving him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he has some medical issue going or is stressed by something? Or maybe you need to clean it more frequently as he doesn't want to get dirty.

  • We have recently adopted a dog, she is lovely and seems to love it here. About a month in, she started pooping in the house; usually in my daughter's room or my office. We take her out often, and she will be outside with us for a good long time and then still come in and go poop. How do I stop this behavior?

    There are chances that she may feel somewhat uncomfortable outside, or perhaps there are too many distractions going on, and she can't seem to focus enough to relax and poop. Pooping in dogs requires them to be a bit in a vulnerable position, and it requires a bit of concentration. It could be she wasn't well housetrained in her previous home too.

    In any, case, it's important to make sure she has ample of opportunities to poop outside. Taking her on a walk may help as motion helps trigger dogs to have a bowel movement. It also helps to feed her on a strict schedule so that she poops predictably at a certain time and you can take her out at that time.

    If she fails to poop outside, make sure you keep her nearby the door in an unobstructed view area so she can't sneak in a bedroom or behind some furniture to poop. Keep an eagle eye on her. This way you can promptly escort her out as soon as you notice some pre-potty signs (circling, sniffing, lowering her bottom).

    It may help, if she has an accident, to collect the poop and place it in the designated area, you want her to poop outside. This way she can smell her poop there and hopefully help her recognize where her new "bathroom" is.

    Also, never punish a dog for pooping inside the home. This only leads to dogs associating pooping in front of the owner as punishment. This means the dog will always sneak in a secretive spot to poop so that the owner won't see them poop. This may also interfere with pooping outside in front of the owner.

  • I have a Great Dane. He is six years old. Why would he start pooping in the house?

    If your Great Dane was always remarkable in the potty training department, and now is having accidents, it may be that there's a medical problem at play. Six years old is considered senior age for a dog. Maybe he has joint pain or some digestive issue. Are there any changes in his surroundings? He could be scared of something outside, or he could not want to go outside due to unusual weather.

  • I have a seven-year-old dog; he is trained on the pee pad. He has been peeing and pooping on the pee pad since we got him at three-month-old. Recently, he started to poop in my bedroom or my sons' bedroom. He has a pee pad in the usual spot all day long. It's been going on for over three weeks now. How do I stop it?

    It could be stemming from a health disorder such as joint pain or a UTI. (Dogs associate the pee pad with pain.) It could also be a behavior issue, (stress, anxiety, fear). It may help to have a health check-up and determine if any changes may have caused stress or fear (loud noises, new people moving in, etc.) If none apply, you may need to go back to basics and restrict his space to the area where his pee pad is, and praise or reward him for using it. Only once he reliably uses the pee pad for several days, you can then give him more freedom. Make sure the area he poops in is cleaned well with an enzymatic cleaner. Alternatively, you can try to keep the bedroom doors closed and see if he goes back to using the pee pads. Pheromone plug-ins may help ease anxiety.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Andy Schutz 

      3 weeks ago

      Die Hard Poop Eater - Rescued a Beagle - Dachshund mix and she has been eating her poop since she got here 3 months ago. I checked for worms, used For-bid powder and put hot sauce on her poop, the latter worked but it does not teach her not to eat it. She gets sick at night when she eats alot. yuk!. Nasty aroma at 3am. She also tries to eat it before i get to her now cause when shd poops and tries, I tell her to drop it and most the time she obeys but she so loves that ......stuff. I think she was abused, poor thing didnt even know how to play. Any other thougts? I don't want to make her any more

      secretive about pooping.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      2 months ago from USA

      Evike, a vet visit may help rule out certain medical conditions that may cause an increase in motility and therefore more accidents around the house. This would be a good start. Bring a fecal sample along. Other possibilities is your dog got scared of something outside. Being monsoon season, maybe he has become scared of thunder? or didn't like getting wet one day? May be doggy door flap moved with the wind and startled him? Many possibilities...

    • profile image

      Evike 

      2 months ago

      i have 2 shih tzus, 2 1/2 yrs old, brothers. no issues w/peeing or pooping as they are house trained. i have 2 doggie doors. leave them alone at night/during day..not for very long lengths. they sleep w/me. THIS week one of them pooped in the living room during the night 2x now. have NO idea why. it is HOT is Arizona and i have a covered patio. i've read all of the above and none apply. i am stumped :(:(

    • profile image

      Km 

      3 months ago

      I have a 3yr old chihuahua mixed with dachshund and he has been potty trained for almost 3yrs and all of a sudden he is pooping inside the house.

      He gets taken outside regularly and he poops just fine while on his daily walks but he still will poop inside the house. There has been no changes with surroundings or diet so I'm not sure what is going on with him.

    • profile image

      Linda Anderson 

      3 months ago

      I went on a ten day vacation without my dog now she is pooping in the house. I know it was separation anxiety but what can I do about it ?

    • profile image

      david asbury 

      4 months ago

      my dog is 9 months old and toilet trained I take her in the garden before bed and stay with her till she poos never been a problem, lately I can spend about 10 mins out there but as soon as she comes back into the house and my back is turned she poos it's happening frequently.

    • profile image

      Chelsye 

      4 months ago

      My dog Bella will be 3 on June 22. Just recently, she has been pooping in the house. I stick to a routine potty schedule but she is very distracted outside. There have been times I take her out and she will owe outside and poop in the house. She is house trained and just recently started this. Please help because I don't know how to stop this behavior.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      4 months ago from USA

      It could be there's something outside that makes her uncomfortable or perhaps she's too distracted to do her business out. Make sure she goes before coming back inside. Try taking her on a walk before coming back inside.

    • profile image

      Joseph Gardiner 

      4 months ago

      after taking my 2 year old pit-bull outside she go's out and as soon as she comes inside she has a bowel movement inside, its like she is doing this on purpose .

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      6 months ago from USA

      Donna, I would start with a vet visit to see if there's something medical going on. At 12, there are several possible medical problems causing this. It can also be a symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction.

    • profile image

      Donna 

      6 months ago

      My dog was a rescue dog at the age of 3, now nearly 12. She had "mistakes" early on , but it passed. Now she potties in the house often. Usually afterward she wants to be in my presence. She had a wellness check about 4 months ago, no issues. One big change has been the loss of my husband 5 years ago, and she adored him. I try to give her a lot of affection, altho she is a dog with attitude, it is on her terms. I do not know what to do, I can not keep cleaning up after her nearly every day.

    • profile image

      Donna 

      7 months ago

      I have a rescue dog who suffers from separation anxiety. I left him at my daughter's house (who has a dog that he knows and gets along great with) and he pooped in her bedroom and also peed in her dog's doggie bed. Usually never does this. Help

    • profile image

      Lola 

      7 months ago

      He can get out whenever he wants could it be his age

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      8 months ago from USA

      Maybe try to keep him longer outside in the morning? Maybe he rushes for some reason. If you are feeding him right after, that may be a reason. Maybe try feeding him first thing and then taking him out? Another idea is seeing the vet and have a fecal test done.

    • profile image

      Sam 

      8 months ago

      So I have a two and a half year old Newfie. We adopted him about 4 months ago and he’s been great. Starting about a week ago, he started pooping in the house. It’s happened around 12/12:30. Normally he poops around 7am and 5pm. Today, I let him out in the morning, he took a normal poop, and then when we came inside and I fed him he pooped again this time inside the house. I have no idea what to do, or how to deal with it. I’m starting to lose my mind. They’re perfect poops, so it’s not like he’s got an infection, we changed his food completely two weeks ago, but he integrated it over the last month. So I have no idea why he’s doing it. Any ideas?

    • profile image

      Charliefarley 

      8 months ago

      Hi greenspencer, our dog is doing exactly the same. Did you find any answers?

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      9 months ago from USA

      It sometimes can be the food. Premium foods make dogs poop less compared to the supermarket brands. What food are you feeding? Your vet has ruled out digestive motility disorders?

    • profile image

      Greenspencer 

      9 months ago

      We have a two year old poodle mix who periodically poops in the house even after being walked and having pooped within a reasonable time period (2 or 3 hours) and even when we are home! There have been no changes to food, our schedule, or the household. We are retired and home most of the time. He also poops outside. No signs of parasites. Help!

    • profile image

      Amanda 

      10 months ago

      My 6 year old hound mix..just got over diarrhea(yes i went to the vet and put him on meds.. Feeding him chicken and rice for now few more days then switch to his normal food. Yes he would leave a mess.. Today i found his poop in the living room not diarrhea thou.

      No worms where found thou too. Im most of the day..

      Maybe it is separation anxiety..

      But its un like him to to in the house. .

    • profile image

      Lucy 

      11 months ago

      My six-year-old Chihuahua terrier is just now starting to poop in the house and every once in a while peeing this is the first time ever since he’s been potty trained

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      13 months ago from USA

      Caroline, it could be a sign of separation anxiety. I would record the behavior when you are away and see if shows signs of separation anxiety. Also, I would consult with a vet just to rule out medical problems.

    • profile image

      Caroline 

      14 months ago

      Why is my 3 year old dog holding her poop till I go to work and then poops in the house, and sometimes pee, what can be done for that my other dogs don't do it just her.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      5 years ago from USA

      Yes, separation anxiety may be a cause for a house soiled dog to start pooping in the house, and older dogs at times get anxious when left alone often because their senses are declining.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      6 years ago from Texas

      This is a wonderful article. We have adopted a dog (7 years ago) that has problems with separation anxiety. It was good to read this. Both of our dogs (adopted) have their difficulties.

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