How to Stop Dogs from Pooping in the House

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As my dogs have gotten older, their minds and bodies have changed with the aging process.

Sophie and Daisy both have issues with their eyesight and hearing.

Also, Daisy suffers from cognitive dysfunction (it’s like Alzheimer’s), which has impacted her housetraining, resulting in her having accidents.

When Daisy first started pooping in the house, I brought her into the vet to make sure there weren’t any underlying health issues.

After running various tests, we figured out it was related to her getting older. Over time it became clear that Daisy suffered from cognitive dysfunction, which is not uncommon in older dogs.

I was relieved that Daisy wasn’t sick, but was disappointed that she was struggling mentally.

It wasn’t long after this that Sophie started having issues when we left for more than four hours.

Again, I brought her to the vet office and found out that like Daisy, it was likely due to age. However, unlike Daisy, it was due to anxiety.

In addition to age-related issues, sometimes dogs will poop in the house due to illness.

Calvin has irritable bowel disease, which can result in accidents when he has a flare-up.

Beyond age and illness, sometimes dogs have not been adequately housetrained.  It is not uncommon for me to foster an adult dog that has never lived in a house.

If you’re still having trouble with your dog having accidents in the house, check out our top picks for the best dog foods for less poop.

Why is My Dog Pooping in the House?

There are various reasons why dogs poop in the house:Why is my dog pooping inside my house how can I stop canine defecation

  • Cognitive dysfunction – Seniors with cognitive dysfunction can forget their housetraining, resulting in accidents.
  • Loss of muscle in the anal reflex ability[1].
  • Diet – Sudden changes in a dog’s diet can negatively affect a dog’s gastrointestinal system.
  • Diseases – Like Inflammatory Bowel Disease or cancer.
  • Nerve Damage – Neural issues that impact the sphincter’s ability to function properly.
  • Illness – Parasites or colitis.
  • Change in Lifestyle – It is not unusual for rescue dogs who have lived their lives outside not to be housebroken.
  • Stress – If a dog is under stress, it can result in your dog getting colitis.
  • Age – Puppies require housetraining, and until they receive it they will continue to poop in the house.

Why Is My Dog All of the Sudden Pooping in the House?

Sometimes dog poop in the house and people incorrectly think their dog is mad at them.

Dog’s don’t get mad at us; sometimes they are scared of us or anxious by our reaction, but don’t be fooled into thinking they look guilty[2].

If your dog is suddenly pooping in your house, it could be a medical condition and seeking veterinary assistance is advisable.

Some health issues that would cause your dog to poop in the house are a change in their diet, colitis, bowel cancer, or intestinal parasites.

Sometimes dogs will poop in the house because of anxiety or stress.

It is not uncommon for dogs to poop after a move, a change in the family structure such as a divorce or new baby, or even another pet. They aren’t pooping because they are mad about the change, but instead, it is a stress response.

Dog look guilty stress response can lead to pooping inside house

Another common reason for dogs to poop in the house is because your pup is getting older.

Fecal incontinence is not uncommon in senior dogs.

As dogs age, their bodies and minds can be negatively impacted. Some dogs may lose muscle mass and the nerves dull in the sphincter area, suffer from cognitive dysfunction or suffer from “old dog” anxiety.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer to this question.

Related: White Specks in Dog Poop? Here’s What to Do

Why Does My Dog Poop in the House in Front of Me?

Like most things relating to dogs, there are few different answers.

The first two that come to mind are fecal incontinence and cognitive dysfunction.

I was recently at my cousin’s house dropping something off. Since it was a workday, I went inside to see if her senior dog, Jet, wanted to go outside.

Jet is a Doberman Pinscher and is an absolute sweetheart.

Unfortunately, Jet suffers from arthritis and fecal incontinence.

After letting Jet back inside after he finished his outside business, I walked him back to his bed.

I started to say goodbye, and instead of laying down, he began to poop.

He was standing looking right at me, and he had no idea what was happening.

Doberman Pinscher fecal incontinence nervous damage unwanted defecation
This type of event is just as embarrassing to them as it is to you

The reason this happened was because Jet has lost muscle control and has lost nerve sensitivity in his sphincter.

Another incident that happened was with Daisy.

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Daisy has arthritis.

She was outside going to the bathroom. After she finished pooping, I called her in, and unfortunately, when she came inside, she preceded to squat and poop in the house.

Unfortunately, her legs get sore from squatting, so sometimes Daisy needs to squat multiple times.

Since I was in a hurry, I had forgotten this and had rushed the process. Trust me, I felt like a horrible mom!

Finally, in a recent article[3], it mentioned that pooping in the house could be that your pooch thinks they are giving you a gift.

Not sure my opinion on this, but thought it would be worth mentioning.

Related: Why Does Dog Poop Turn White?

Why Is My Dog Pooping in the House When I Leave?

Often when a dog poops in the house in your absence, it’s because of one of three principal reasons.

First, they didn’t have enough time outside to relieve themselves or were distracted by other things instead of taking care of business.

Younger dogs and dogs with cognitive dysfunction are the ones that most often suffer from this long can dog wait before pooping when I leave for the day several hours

The next reason is that your dog is older and can no longer wait as long, between bathroom breaks like they once did.

In our house, 4-5 hours is the longest they can last.

The third common reason is separation anxiety, or stress.

Accidents in the house are a common symptom of separation anxiety.

Related: Why Do Dogs Look at You When They Poop?

Why Has My Dog Started Pooping in the House at Night?

There are a few possible reasons for nighttime pooping.

One reason is fecal incontinence. Dogs who suffer from this condition, like Jet, often defecate in their sleep.

Another possible reason is if your dog is eating too close to bedtime.

Your dog may require more time between mealtime and when they go to bed.

Even if your dog has treats before bedtime, that may be enough to cause them to have nocturnal pooping at night too long after dinner midnight potty break

A third potential reason is that dogs who are given too much freedom in the evening, but not enough exercise during the day, can find themselves up and wandering the house.

Just the action of walking around the home can trigger a response in your dog to need to go to the bathroom.

A final reason for nighttime pooping is incorrect housetraining.

Sophie, my foster fail, used to get in trouble for making noise at night. If she had to go to the bathroom in the evening, she would sneak off and find a place to poop instead of waking us up.

Because of Sophie’s lack of proper training, she had become fearful of drawing attention to herself.

Eventually, when she would start stirring at night, Daisy would wake us up so we could get Sophie outside.

Is your dog pooping in their crate, not the house? We have an article about that as well!

How to Stop My Dog from Pooping in the House?

Like all of the other questions, there isn’t a straightforward answer.

The answer depends on why your dog is pooping in the house.No Dog Pooping sign how to stop dog from defecating inside home

Below, I’ve listed a few scenarios and solutions.

However, as always, I encourage you to check with your vet to ensure there aren’t any underlying health issues.

I know that might seem extreme, but it’s just as likely to be a health issue as it is a behavioral issue.

My dad’s golden retriever, Jacquie, was a rescue from RAGOM and shortly after she was adopted, she started pooping in the house.

At first, it was assumed it was just behavioral due to the change and stress of a new home. However, after it didn’t resolve and other things came up, my dad brought her to the vet.

Devastatingly, they discovered she had cancer.

Though Jacquie was only with us for a short period, we were still all quite heartbroken.

How to Determine Why Your Dog is Pooping in the House

I know how hard it can be to deal with this issue and the best piece of advice I can give you is remembering your love for your dog.

Next, take a step back from the situation and look at the whole picture. Determining why our dogs are pooping where they shouldn’t be is half the battle.

Consider everything:

  • Did you change their food recently? Did you buy new treats?
  • Did you move? Change jobs?
  • Did your regular schedule or routine change?
  • Did you have a change in your household? New Baby? New Pet? Divorce? Death?
  • How old is your dog?
  • Is your dog behaving differently in other ways?
  • Do they only poop when you’re away?
  • Do they only poop at night?
  • Do they only poop during a storm?

Once you have determined the reason your dog is pooping in the house, you can move forward and figure out how to resolve the issue or at least learn to manage the situation.

If Your Dog Suffers from Fecal Incontinence due to Age

senior dog incontinence how to deal with pooping inside home age related 50% of seniors over the age of 11 suffer from cognitive dysfunction[4], and many others suffer from arthritis and loss of muscle in their sphincter.

Regardless of the cause, the bottom line is our senior pups need to relieve themselves more frequently.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a medication available that can help with this issue.

However, there are a few things we can do to minimize the number of accidents our dogs have.

One option is to change our dog’s diet to a low residue/low fiber dog food.

A low residue diet is lower in high-fiber foods[5]. Low residue diets are intended to reduce the number of bowel movements.

These diets have fewer whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Here are some examples:

Another thing we can do is to ensure we give enough time after meals for our dogs to go to the bathroom before we leave or go to bed.Purina Pro Plan Focus sensitive skin stomach anal gland control easier on older dogs

When my dogs were younger, their bathroom habits were like clockwork. Feed them, and a half-hour later they would need to go and relieve themselves.

Nowadays. when we feed them it can be anywhere between a half-hour to an hour and a half before they need to relieve themselves.

Needless to say, we needed to manage the situation better to avoid accidents!

Also, since most seniors can’t wait as long as before between bathroom breaks, you may need to consider having a friend or family member come in to let your dog out.

If my husband and I are going to be gone for an extended period, say to a wedding or party, we will hire a dog sitter.

The dog sitter comes over for a few hours to help break up the time and give the dogs a chance to get out.

If you are unsure where to find a dog sitter, try calling your local vet. Or, if you have a veterinary school nearby, many of the students love supplementing their income with pet sitting.

If your Dog Poops in the House Because of Anxiety

Thundershirt relieve anxiety help keep dog from pooping inside houseSome dogs have separation anxiety, old dog anxiety, or thunderstorm anxiety.

The treatment type for their anxiety will depend on the severity of the situation.

Some easy in-home methods for helping your dog would be to use:

Also, some dogs respond better to smaller environments.

I have had foster dogs that feel more comfortable when crated than when given free rein of the house

It isn’t a punishment to crate your dog, especially if your dog feels safer while confined.

Essentially, treating your dog’s anxiety is the key to prevent them from pooping in the house.

Health Issues

If your pup has a medical condition such as parasites, colitis, or irritable bowel disease, then treating the condition will minimize or even eliminate your dog pooping in the house.

However, some disorders like irritable bowel disease may still have occasional flareups, resulting in the inevitable accident in the house.

Could those health issues affect your dog’s poop’s color, too? Check out this article for more information on orange dog poop!

Housetraining Issues

Some of my former foster dogs had never been in a house before, so had never needed to be housetrained.Nature's Miracle enzymatic stain odor remover help house train dog to poop outside

Sadly, some dogs we have rescued have lived in deplorable conditions, including having to live in their mess.

With dogs coming from these types of situations, housetraining requires additional patience and tons of positive reinforcement.

Training dogs with this background can be challenging but extraordinarily rewarding.

However, the good news is that all dogs of any age can be housetrained.

Tips for Housetraining

CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!!! If a dog smells an area they or another dog has used to go to the bathroom, they will continue to use this spot. This is why it is so important to use a good cleaner to eliminate the smell.
Good Products to Get Rid of the Smell
Don’t Throw the Poop Out in the GarbagePoop happens move outdoors because dogs defecate in same place house training tips

If your dog has pooped indoors, move the poop outdoors.

Because dogs tend to use the bathroom in the same area, it can also work in our favor.

Move the poop outside, and when training your pup, lead them to the area you put their poop.

This will help encourage them to poop in that same place.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Every time your dog poops outside get excited and reward with treats and affection.

If you scold your dog for going to the bathroom indoors, likely you will only scare them; positive reinforcement is more powerful than punishment.

Pooping in the House Because of Cognitive Dysfunction

As I mentioned earlier, Daisy has been suffering from cognitive dysfunction for the last year.

One of the challenges has been her loss of housetraining skills.Welactin omega 3 fatty acid supplement combat cognitive decline overall wellness

Daisy had always let us know when she needed to go outside. During the day she would wait by the backdoor and at night she would wake us by hitting the side of the bed.

At first, we thought she had completely lost all of her housetraining skills.

However, we soon realized that her cues for needing to go outside changed.

Now, instead of going to the door, Daisy balls up the rugs in the room.

So, if your dog also has cognitive dysfunction, look for new patterns in their behavior. The cue for letting you know they need to go out may have changed.

Though there is no cure for cognitive dysfunction, there are some supplements that can aid in reducing the symptoms:

Recently, as in yesterday, we were informed by Daisy’s internal medicine veterinarian that there is a medication that is now being used to help with cognitive dysfunction.Anipryl selegiline HCL dog medication help with cognitive decline caused indoor defecation

It has a 76% success rate and a low risk for side effects[7].

The medicine is called Selegiline. You can find it at Chewy, though it does require a prescription.

Though Selegiline will not cure cognitive dysfunction, it can aid in helping your pup remember their housetraining skills.

Final Thoughts

Having your dog poop in your house can be frustrating, gross, and even embarrassing.

However, there is usually a solution or at least ways to reduce the frequency of occurrences.

The first step is determining why your dog is pooping in the house. Then you can decide on the best solution to fix the problem.

Remember your dog isn’t doing this to get revenge on you.

Dogs are fortunate enough not to be petty enough to do such things.

Unfortunately, they do suffer from other unpleasant emotions like fear and anxiety, both of which can contribute to unwanted behavior.

Do your best to be patient and diligent in finding the root cause, and likely everything will come out smelling like roses! (Sorry couldn’t help myself!)


How Do I Stop My Older Dog from Pooping in the House?

It all depends on the reason why your dog is pooping in the house.

The problem could be the result of a health issue, cognitive issue, or just part of the normal aging process.  Always start with contacting your vet.

How Do You Punish a Dog for Pooping in the House?

You don’t.

Positive reinforcement is the most reliable and effective method for training your dog.



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