What To Do When Your Dog Poops in the House

It can come as a bit of a shock the first time your dog poops in house, especially if they’ve been perfectly house trained up until now.

The big question is how should you react and how do you stop it happening again?

Faced with this problem for the first time, your reaction might well be a mixture of anger, disgust and frustration. Which is understandable, as clearing it up is never a pleasant job and getting rid of the odour can be quite a difficult task.

Next, our instincts are to scold the dog, or maybe even punish them in some way. Resist that urge! It’s almost universally agreed these days that this approach doesn’t work to solve the problem and could even be counter productive.

Finally we question “Why did they do that?” There’s plenty of dog owners that believe their dog does it on purpose, out of spite or revenge, but that’s a common myth and won’t help you at all.  There is always a reason, so lets look at what those reasons could be.

Toilet Training Problems

Puppy House Training:

If you’ve got a puppy, the answer could be very simple – they just haven’t got the hang of the house training yet. For instance, if a puppy has pooped in their crate when you come down in the morning they most likely couldn’t manage the whole night.

If that is the case, the answer is to get up a little earlier to let them out until they are a bit older. By 5 months old they should be able to manage it.

Dogs or puppies don’t tend to poop or pee in their own confined space, so if a dog poops in a crate, they will only be doing it if they are caught short or there are other problems going on like separation anxiety in dogs.

Older Dog Problems:

As dogs get older they can also become less able to last a long time between toileting and may even become incontinent. The way to deal with this is to watch them more closely and let them out more often. However, if you’re concerned, it would be worth a visit to the vet as it could be a health related problem.

Your Dog’s Diet

Without going into too much detail, you can probably tell if your dog is suffering from diarrhea. This could be a result of the food they have eaten, exposure to toxins, or parasites.  If there are signs of blood in the poop, you should get it checked out with your vet.

So a health or diet related problems could cause your dog to poop in the house, but it shouldn’t persist once the health problem or diet is dealt with.

Try looking at your dogs diet.  Have you made any changes recently, like changing the brand of food you give them? It can take their systems a few days to adjust to new food and vets often advise changing the food you give overtime, mixing the new in with the old to start and gradually increasing the proportion of the new food.

If there has been no changes, try restricting their diet to bland foods – and make sure they get no extras (like the remains of last nights takeaway!) for a while and see if that helps. It may be worth looking into hypo-allergenic dog foods.

Change in Your Dogs Life

If you’ve now ruled out health, diet and toilet training as the reason for your dog pooping in the house, try looking at your circumstances.  Has anything major changed for your dog recently? Has someone new arrived in the household (like a baby or another dog), or has someone left? Have you moved home or made major changes within the house. Have you just thrown out the old dog bed and bought a brand new, un-smelly one?

There are many changes that can affect a dog and pooping in the house can be a reaction to being unsettled by the change. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time for them to adapt. Be patient, clear up without making any fuss and the situation may sort itself out with time.  Sadly, that may not be the case with an anxious dog.

Free Video Training on Dog Anxiety

Dog Anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs can develop as a reaction to a change in circumstance, and can cause your dog to poop in the house – though probably not for the reasons you’d imagine.

To understand why they do it we need to look at a dogs natural instincts. In the wild their poop is used in three ways as a way of scent marking their territory, as a warning to others to keep away, as a way of finding the pack den.
The first we all understand from our dog’s obsessive need to pee on lamposts, usually over the top of another dogs pee (it’s not your territory, it’s mine). the second makes sense too and with the third we need to remember that a dog sense of smell is up to 200 times better than our own.

So your dog, panicking at you having left the den (home) and not knowing where you have gone, is showing you in the only way they know, how to find (or scent) your way back home – they just haven’t worked out that our noses don’t work as well as theirs do.

A dogs anxiety comes about as a result of worrying about you, so the way to get rid of it is to look at who is the top dog in your household. It’s often the case that anxious dogs have assumed that they are pack leader and if this is what has happened, they will continue to get anxious every time you leave, because the pack leader is responsible for keeping the rest of the pack safe – which they can’t do if you shut them in the house and disappear!

Learning how to show your dog that you are leader of the pack, that they have nothing to worry about and can trust you, is the best thing you can do for a dog suffering from anxiety.  Deal with the anxiety and the dog will stop pooping in the house. For a cost effective training programme to help you do this, check out our free dog anxiety training video and take a look at our new Dog Anxiety eBook which provides a step-by-step approach to what to do when your dog poops in house.


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Leave A Reply (126 comments so far)

  1. bark control
    3 years ago

    Good post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Kudos!

  2. Anna
    3 years ago

    My family and I just got a dog. And well I am having a few problems. First, I can’t get him to poop outside. He can be out all day and not poop but as soon as he comes in he poops. Secondly, it seems like he might have been beat in his last home! Some things like patting your leg with your hand or maybe a loud voice will make him cower and flinch. How do I get him to stop pooping in my home and how do I get him to trust that not everyone is going to hit him?

    • Tony
      3 years ago

      Dear Anna, a dog can sometimes be too tense outside to poop. As soon as it feels safe it can relaaaaaaaax!
      Trust is earned, and this can be done by showing the dog (in a way that he understands) that you are the ones he can look to for his safety. Dog Listening tells you how to achieve all this in the 4 areas important to a dog (food, hunt, danger, status). Check out http://www.janfennellthedoglistener.com to find out more.

  3. Jay
    3 years ago

    3 months ago I adopted a pug cross for the SPCA. When I first brought him home I knew he would mark his territory in our home. Everything was good until about 2 weeks ago he started pooping in the house. Even when we are home it can be anytime day or night. I started kenneling him while we are out and when we go to bed. He had pooped in his kennel? What can I do to get him to do his business outside?? Please help!!

    • Tony
      3 years ago

      Hi Jay, limiting a dog’s space makes it less likely for a dog to poop. Also, praising when a dog goes in the right place and ignoring when it doesn’t shows that attention is earned for positive work. Showing the dog that you are the one to be trusted with the decisions (Amichien Bonding does this) also removes stress which can cause this kind of reaction.

      Best regards, Tony

  4. guy
    3 years ago

    hi,having probs with my gsd, when at home she is no problem but when we go out she messes and then seems to spread it every,my wife at her tether as i work away all week so its her who has to sort out,any ideas would be a great help.

    • admin
      3 years ago

      That does sound like a classic sign of separation anxiety, though you don’t often hear about dogs spreading it. It may be that in her anxiety she is doing something else – like pacing that means she spreads it. Short term you could get her used to using a crate while everyone is out. Dogs often would mess in their own confined spaces. Some do though, so make sure that whatever bedding is in there is easily washable. I think it depends on how acute the anxiety is. You probably need an anxiety training programme for your dog. She may well think that she is pack leader and is therefore worrying about you when you go out. You can get rid of anxiety, but you’ll need to change your dog’s mind about her position in the pack. That’s not difficult and we’ve got a training programme that should be available in the next 10 days that will help. Hang on in there for now. Practical things you can do is not make a big fuss of your dog before you leave and when you come back and don’t scold her for making a mess because that can make anxiety worse. Hope that helps for now. There’s lots of other tips in articles on the site too.

  5. Sandra
    4 years ago

    I need some advice on how to get my puppy to do his business on his potty pad again. We have a 4 month old Poodle, we got him at 8 weeks and were very effective in training him to go on a potty pad inside. He learned within a week and had been very consistent in doing his business on the potty pad while left alone and outside when we came home. About a week ago he started to pee and poo in random places in the living room, mainly behind our recliners or right in front of them. He even does it and stares at us dead in the eyes almost like a challenge and it is not until we say “bad dog” that he actually runs off but it has not deterred him from doing it again. We always reward him with praise and/or treats when he does it outside or on the potty pad but even that is not making him stop. We have hardwood floors so it is easier to clean and we use lysol wipes to eliminate the odor as well but he always seems to go back to the same spots.
    I know he is still a puppy and going thru phases but I don’t know why he decided to regress in this behavior out of the blue. He never pees out of excitement when we have company, and he is not afraid of going outside, he actually loves it so I don’t know what to do.
    We both work so we would like him to go back to peeing on his potty pad when left alone like he was doing before because i hate leaving him in a kennel for longer than a couple of hours at such a young age. I also do not want to have a dog that has to be in a kennel to behave, we like having him around like a part of the family. Could you please give me some tips or ideas as to what can be going on and how to fix it?
    I have also tried putting some of his pee on the potty pad so he can smell it and kind of put 2 and 2 together, it worked twice an then he went back to peeing on the floor. He is doing some of his business outside but he is still having multiple “accidents” inside and not on his potty pad. Could it be that he no longer wants to use the potty pad and only wants to go outside? That would not be a big problem for us if we were home more during the day but unfortunately we can only come home for lunch and not again until 3pm or 530pm. So my desire for him would be to get him to go on his potty pad again when left alone in the house.
    Thanks in advance,

  6. Greg
    4 years ago

    I have 3-4 year old chi/pom and it poops in my bathroom. I can put him out all day and it will poop in my bathroom when he gets in. HELP!!

  7. admin
    4 years ago

    Hi Charles. Really pleased to hear that you’ve identified why your dog is behaving in this way. That’s half the battle. The other half – teaching leadership – is a bit beyond the size of a post on my site, but I would recommend clicking here to check out this programme for learning how to show your dog that you are pack leader. It’s inexpensive and I’ve used it myself so I know it does work. Best of luck with the training.

  8. Charles Sleep
    4 years ago

    The last explanation of the problem fits my situation, but you do not describe the solution, at least the how to part anyway.

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