Nobody likes rounding the corner in the house and discovering a pile of poo. While it’s one thing to find the occasional “gift” from a puppy or newly adopted dog, we’re generally less thrilled to discover our adult dog has “left a load” in the living room. So why is your house-trained dog suddenly pooping in the house?
Why Do Adult Dogs Poop in The House?
There are many reasons why an adult, assumingly house-trained, dog might poop indoors:
- Illness. Dietary indiscretions or parasites can cause even the best-housetrained dog to have an “accident” in the house. Illness-related fecal accidents often present as loose stool.
- Incomplete house-training. Is your dog really house-trained? If dogs are given too much freedom too soon, and frequently have poop accidents in the house, they may not fully understand the expectation that all defecation – not just some defecation – should happen outdoors.
- Digestive-schedule issues. Some dogs’ digestive systems process things differently. Some need more time to process between intake and output. Some dogs need more physical activity to get things moving.
- Pooping as a stress response. A sudden change in routine, moving, houseguests, visiting animals, noises outside, and even re-arranging the furniture are all things that some dogs might find stressful. Some dogs might respond to this stressful situation by urine marking or pooping in the house. It’s not spite; it’s stress.
What You Can Do to Stop Your Dog From Pooping in the House
The first line of defense is to revisit housetraining basics. No matter the reason why your dog is pooping in the house, it’s important to limit her opportunity so the behavior doesn’t become well rehearsed. Like us, dogs get good at whatever they practice!
Next, increase your management and supervision. Keep your dog in your line of sight when home; attach her leash to your belt, if need be!
If she’s pooping in the same spot, restrict access to that area. When your dog is left home alone indoors, consider using a crate if your dog is crate trained and you’ll only be gone a few hours. You can also limit her access to a small area by using a gate to keep her in a kitchen or laundry room. With either set-up, the idea is that most dogs want to keep their personal space clean and may be less likely to foul the area.
Consider a schedule change. If your dog has breakfast and gets a short walk before you leave for work, but frequently poops in the house, or wakes you in the middle of the night needing to go out to relieve himself, try adjusting his feeding schedule. His system might just need a little longer to digest a meal. Or, if possible, try a longer walk. Another few minutes might be all she needs to help work it out.
If your dog routinely poops in the house following stressful situations, consider consulting a positive-reinforcement trainer who can help you create a plan to manage the situation while you work to help change how your dog feels (“counter-condition”) about the presently stressful situations.
And finally, continue to be diligent in these efforts until you’ve had three months without an accident. Yes, we know that’s a long time, but shorter benchmarks are often just luck.