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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      Amanda 4 weeks 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 8 weeks 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 4 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 4 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.