Why Your House-Trained Dog Starts Pooping in the House and How to Stop It

Updated on February 12, 2019
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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

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

If your dog is pooping inside the house after being outside, you may be wondering what is going on in his head. The issue can surely be frustrating, especially when you spend a lot of time outside waiting for your dog to potty only to come back inside and witness Rover having an accident right after coming through the door.

What is going on? In order to better understand the dynamics taking place, it helps to put yourself in Rover's shoes. There are many things that could be causing this behavior, both behavioral and physical, and therefore, you may need to do some investigative work in order to figure out the exact trigger.

Following are some potential causes for dogs pooping or peeing after coming inside.

Why Is My Dog Pooping in the House?

Dogs that are fully housetrained may suddenly start soiling in the house due to medical conditions or due to stress and anxiety. If medical conditions are ruled out, examine whether you have recently moved, changed schedules, or are leaving your dog at home for a longer period of time than it is accustomed to. Dogs poop and pee through loss of control when they feel scared or extremely stressed out. Identifying and removing environmental stressors will eliminate this behavior.

Causes for a Dog Suddenly Pooping in the House

1. Overstimulation

In many cases, the problem of a dog peeing or pooping after coming inside may stem from the environment outside of the home. The area designated to go potty may be too over stimulating to the dog and the dog may get distracted.

After all, how many times has it happened to you that you were outside among company or having a blast shopping that you only realize an impellent urge to go only once you insert the keys and turn the door knob?

Dogs can be similar. It can be that there are too many distractions going on and the last thing Rover thinks about is to go potty. This can be often seen with puppies. After being enclosed in the home for most of the time, once they are let out, they can't wait to sniff around and romp to get rid of pent-up energy. With all this sensory overload and excitement to stretch their legs, they get distracting to the point of forgetting that they need to go potty. Only once back inside the dull home, they realize the urgency and have an accident right on the spot.

Tips: Avoid talking and interacting with your dog when he is sent out to potty. If you play in the yard with your dog, play after he has gone potty. If feasible, take your puppy or dog out when it's quiet. If your dog gets distracted by neighbors, wait for the neighbors to be inside.

2. A Matter of Fear

While overstimulation can be a cause of a dog peeing and pooping after coming inside, so can fear. If your dog is scared of something in the yard or on walks, he may not feel comfortable enough to go do his business. Perhaps there are too many noises or perhaps other dogs and people your dog encounters make him feel on edge.

When dogs are not comfortable, they will hold it, until they are relaxed again. Going potty when a dog is over threshold, is the last thing the dog may think of as he may be fearing for his life.

Going potty puts a dog in a vulnerable position. First of all, it takes time, which can make a difference when every second counts. A dog who senses danger will typically want to be on all his four legs ready to spring into action.

On top of that, dogs who pee or poop leave traces of them behind which can put them in a vulnerable position if they feel threatened by something. Fearful dogs want to hide as much as they can, becoming small and almost invisible, and therefore, they may not want to leave traces behind (their urine or feces) that may attract predators. Of course, nowadays there are no predator animals hunting them down as it happened in the past, but those instincts may still prevail.

Tip: if you have recently rescued a fearful dog, it may be worth it to temporarily train him/her to use pads inside until has adjusted to the changes and has more confidence. Take your dog outside when things are quiet if feasible (e.g. avoid when the trash truck is going around).

3. Substrate Preference

This is a little known fact, but puppies tend to form a substrate preference by the time they are 8 and a half weeks old. This simply means that puppies develop a preference for a surface to use as their potty by this age.

So if a puppy was trained to pee on paper and then is adopted in a new home where the puppy is expected to pee on grass outdoors, the puppy may seek out different surfaces than grass and may therefore hold it and prefer to use the carpet once back indoors.

Tip: It's a good idea when adopting a puppy from a pet store, rescue or breeder, to ask exactly what surface was used to let the puppy go potty. If the puppy was trained to use pads or newspaper, the puppy can be gradually transitioned to grass by taking outside a piece of newspaper or pad and encourage the puppy to use that. Gradually, the newspaper or pad may be reduced in size or may be covered gradually with more and more gras until the puppy learns to exclusively potty on grass.

4. Change in Schedule

Dogs are creatures of habit and they may be used to going potty at certain times of the day. Puppies tend to naturally go potty a few minutes after eating and drinking, playing and after a nap. Adult dogs tend to generally go first thing in the morning, midday early evening and later at night before going to bed.

Tip: Feeding puppies and dogs at established times of the day and keeping the routine always the same, translates into predictable "outings." This means that it's easier to predict when a puppy or dog will need to poop since he or she is being fed at specific times of the day.

5. A Poor Diet

If you are feeding cheap foods from your supermarket, these may 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.

6. Possible Medical Causes

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. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • My dog is almost three and recently he has started pooping in the same spot some time during the night after his last walk, why?

    If your dog has been perfectly housebroken until now, you should consider medical reasons. Increased motility can cause accidents as it happens with diarrhea and some other digestive disorders. Other things that come to mind is that he might be stressed or perhaps he isn't pooping during the day as he normally should. Clean up the spot with an enzyme based cleaner and perhaps see whether placing some object over that spot (chair, furniture, large box) may prevent him from pooping there, but first things first, a vet visit may be in order.

  • My two-year-old dog recently started going to the bathroom whenever he has to, no matter where he is. The door will be wide open, and he will go pee in the living room. We moved into this house and gained another dog at the same time, but that was five months ago; this behavior just started about a week ago. I work from home. I'm going to make him an appointment with the vet tomorrow. What might be his reasons for doing this?

    You are doing the right thing by seeing the vet to help rule out medical problems. Behavior-wise, several things may be going on: it could be that something in the yard has scared him or he doesn't want to pee or poop in the same areas your other dog goes, or he has associated the yard with something unpleasant. Some dogs may pee and poop in the home suddenly out of stress, or they may see that it brings the owner's attention and the dog may be craving that.

  • 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.


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    • profile image


      3 weeks ago

      My dog is one year old and housebroken. ( she pees and poops on the pad regularly, and she always happily come to us after that for reward ) She has little excitement pee issues since her puppy time, other than that she is very smart and she can hold her pee for hours if she is outside traveling.

      However, she starts hold her poop and doesn’t want to go when we take her to, but later on she would poop at the wrong place ( not the same place every time ) Sometimes on the stairs when she was rushing to follow us to upstairs!

      I am wondering what can we do? I feel it’s more mental issue but she is well-cared all the time.

    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      My dogs would die before pooping in the house, but if I don't kenel them and leave the house for more than 10 minutes, when I come back they purposely pooped and peed. I literally know if they did it because they will be hiding in the corner trembling because they knew they did something bad...

      What gives? I hate leaving them kenneled when I'm gone, but it feels hopeless. Every time I think I can trust them, they let me down...

    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      My almost 4yr old house trained labradoodle has recently started pooping in the house again. In the bathtub, but still, in the house. He is also still pooping outside on walks, as per normal.

      Is it possible that he is pooping in the house again because my roommates 1yr old puppy is still pooping in the house? Her puppy has been pooping in the house for a year now (she’s very bad at training him properly) so I don’t understand why all of a sudden he has decided to poop in the house again himself.

      The last time he pooped in the house was when he had diarrhea and I can’t blame him for that, but that was over a year ago. Now he’s pooped normal solid poops in the house twice within a few weeks of each other. On Dec 21st and today on Jan 4th. While still also pooping on his walks every morning & night. Can anyone help me figure out why all of a sudden, and how I can curb it? Especially as he’s not pooping while I’m home so I can’t curb it on the spot. Please help!!

    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      My fully house trained 1 yr old GSD recently started using the bathroom in areas my kids play and once on her dog bed in the car when we left her for a quick trip in a store. Can someone help me how to handle this.

    • profile image

      Emily H 

      7 weeks ago

      Our lab is about 10 years old. We never had a problem with him peeing and pooping in the house until recently. We let him out for a while and when he comes in, he pees and poops in the living room. There hasn’t been any big changes or new animals, and we just don’t know what to do.

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      we recently adopted a dog, she is 6 years old and house trained. when we were leaving the shelter there were of course other dogs and she didn't get along with them but we thought that's what all dogs did. so a few weeks ago my cousin and her service dog came over and we let my dog meet her, she was very aggressive towards the other dog, nervous, and jealous but the service dog has been here before so she may have thought "i was here first". that night my dog peed then after they left she pooped (keep in mind, she never did that for the month we've had her) i thought she was just stressed until every night after that day she has gone to the exact same spot where the service dog went to potty. then this morning she pooped again in the exact same spot she did the first time which was right beside her bed. you can tell she isn't herself anymore, i'm very concerned and i need answers plus solutions for when the dog comes back. i'm aware the service dog was drinking out of her bowl, chewing her toys, laying on her bed, and playing with me. so what could this be? me and my mom are desperate for answers. thank you.

    • profile image

      Andrew Pugh 

      2 months ago

      My 1 year old husky started peeing and pooping in the house everyday he goes outside more than normal he will go outside and use the bathroom then come back in and use it again he resentley chewed up our couch then peed on it. Hes destryoing everything including the carpet from mot only potty but chewing it up or just plain eating it he will sneek itno our room at night and get anything he can chew he ate my sons sock and pooped it out the next day and my wifes brand new never used boots he eats the insoles out of them. When we leave. We can only be gona not even 10 min and will come back and he would have got on the table and peed on it we are in desprate need of help with him his food and potty time has always been consistant but the past two weeks he has been out of controll

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      My almost 2 year old dog is going into heat and is pooping and peeing in the house? Can someone offer me any tips on how to remedy?

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      3 months ago from USA

      So sorry to hear that, I hear you. White cider vinegar is natural and not harmful and does a decent job in removing smells, but enzyme-based cleaners may work better as they help remove traces of odor which often triggers puppies to potty where they've been before. Nature's Miracle is a popular product.

    • GeorgeLC profile image

      George Curi 

      3 months ago from Miami Beach, Florida

      My neighbor's dog poops in the apartment almost nightly and the stench is insufferable. I've talked to her about it many times, but she refuses to do anything. What are your suggestions? I read white cider vinegar is great to take away the smell. Is it harmful? My Mom has been very sick to her stomach for months now. Thank you.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      3 months ago from USA

      Moving to another area, although short-lived, can cause regression in some dogs. At your pup's age though, it could be he or she is starting to urine mark or the pup may be having accidents due to stress. Clean up soiled areas with an enzyme-based cleaner, keep an eagle eye on your pup, take him out often, praise reward for pooping outside, and see if you can reduce stress from being in a new place.

    • profile image

      Duncan Dingle 

      3 months ago

      My lab pup is 8 months old and house trained. We are visiting at my daughters ans the pup is pooping quite regulary and sometimes peeing in the house. Please help. this is getting embarrising

    • profile image

      Andy Schutz 

      4 months 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 

      6 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


      6 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


      7 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 

      7 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 

      8 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


      8 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 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      10 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


      10 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


      11 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


      11 months ago

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

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      12 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


      12 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


      12 months ago

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

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      13 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


      13 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


      14 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


      15 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 

      17 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


      18 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 

      7 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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