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

Updated on April 22, 2017
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and 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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 weeks 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.

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      Donna 2 weeks 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.

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      Donna 5 weeks 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

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      Lola 6 weeks ago

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

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 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.

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      Sam 2 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?

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      Charliefarley 2 months ago

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

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 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?

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      Greenspencer 3 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!

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      Amanda 4 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. .

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      Lucy 5 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

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 7 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.

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      Caroline 8 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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 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.

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      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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