Pooping in the House in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog pooping in the house?

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog pooping in the house?

What is Pooping in the House?

Inappropriate elimination is a common problem for dogs for a number of potential reasons and can indicate a behavioral issue or medical condition.  Understanding your dog’s behaviors is the first step in preventing your dog from pooping in the house.  A new dog or puppy may not yet have the necessary training to know the proper time and place for elimination.  However, if your house-trained dog is suddenly pooping inside you need to discover the reason, be it behavioral or medical.  Some of the reasons for pooping inside may include:

  • Not enough house training (behavioral)
  • Separation anxiety (behavioral)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (medical)
  • Parasites or viral infections (medical)
  • Muscle atrophy (medical)

Pooping in the house can be frustrating, but it is important to get to the root cause of the issue, especially with a fully house-trained companion.  As a pet owner, you should consider any new potential stressors and be aware of all changes in your dog’s behaviors and health.

Why Pooping in the House Occurs in Dogs

Despite what seems obvious to you, dogs do not make a distinction between inside and outside when choosing a spot to eliminate waste.  The only place a dog will not poop or pee is where he sleeps so if your dog is pooping in his bed you should contact your veterinarian immediately.  

Not Enough House Training

Puppies and new dogs introduced into your family lack the knowledge of your schedule and therefore, their opportunities to poop outside.  Dogs will also eliminate waste on predictable schedules after eating. Introducing new routines or even new food into your dog’s life may upset his schedule and result in pooping inside.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety does not have an underlying medical condition but affects dogs who are keenly attached to their owners.  When you leave home, your dog may feel it acutely and act out by pooping in the house, becoming destructive, or vocalizing. 

Parasites and Viral Infections

If your dog is having soiling issues in the house, he may have an underlying medical condition brought on by a parasitic, viral, or bacterial infection.  Infections that cause the digestive tract to become inflamed will cause your dog to have diarrhea, and he may feel a sense of urgency to poop.  Younger dogs and dogs who have compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to infections.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Similar to parasites and other infections, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a medical condition that may be affecting your dog, especially if he has loose stool or diarrhea.  IBD is a condition where your dog’s intestinal lining becomes inflamed and may prevent your dog from absorbing nutrients as well as digesting food.  Unlike temporary symptoms, IBD is a chronic condition and can be severe.  It is unclear what causes IBD.

Muscle Atrophy

Your dog may experience muscular atrophy of the sphincter leading to an inability to hold waste.  Though muscle wasting can occur at any age, it is more common in older dogs.  The inability to keep the muscles controlling your dog’s waste could be the result of a general weakness in your dog, a degenerative nervous system disorder, or senility.

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What to do if your Dog is Pooping in the House

If you’ve just adopted a new puppy or older dog, you need to be patient with his house-training.  It takes time for your new family member to adjust to your schedule and his schedule.  However, if your previously house-trained dog is suddenly pooping inside you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any possible medical conditions.

Behavioral issues related to house soiling in house-trained dogs requires evaluating your dog’s potential stress.  Ask yourself if you or a family member has made any recent changes to schedules, feeding and walking times.  Your dog’s stressor may be apparent, such as a new home for the family or subtle, like you working a little later than normal.  Being patient is crucial for re-training inappropriate soiling behavior, and you should never scold your dog or rub his nose in the poop.    

As a dog owner, you should be on the lookout for medically related house soiling.  Diarrhea, temporary or chronic, is a sign that your dog is unwell and not getting their proper nutrients.  You should seek a veterinarian’s help to determine the cause of your dog’s health-related problem.  Your vet will take stool samples or possibly take X-rays or perform an endoscopy to explore your dog’s GI tract to look for inflammation.  Tissue samples and blood work will help identify potential infections or parasites as the cause.  Antibiotics will be prescribed if a bacterial infection is suspected.  Anti-inflammatory medication may also be prescribed to help control the inflammation and get your dog back to health.

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Prevention of Pooping in the House

You can help reduce house soiling during training or re-training by creating and sticking to a scheduled routine of feeding and walking your dog.  You should also reward your dog when he eliminates at the correct time and in the right place.  If your dog does have an indoor accident, do not scold him.  Instead, relocate the poop to the proper spot and have him inspect it.  Throwing out waste may seem like the logical thing to do but creating a chemical and scent association will help him remember where the proper place to poop is.  Additionally, always clean the area well where your dog inappropriately soiled because your dog will want to return to this same area in the future due to chemical association.  An enzymatic cleaner works well for this.

If your dog’s elimination issues are due to a medical condition you can feed your dog less food at more intervals to help keep the volume of waste down.  Feed an easily digestible diet and steer clear of treats and table scraps. Getting to the root of the medical condition will also determine future efforts for keeping your dog healthy.  You can also hire a pet sitter who can assist with regular walks and feeding if you are not available to take your dog on more routine walks.

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Cost of Pooping in the House

The cost of inappropriate elimination depends on the underlying cause, and though training can vary in cost, medical conditions can range in expense.  For example, the average cost of lack of bowel control is around $1,800 whereas the inflammatory bowel disease-specific cost is around $2,800.

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Pooping in the House Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Golden Retriever

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6 months

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Has Symptoms

Pooping In The House

All of a sudden, my dog is pooping in the house. Her poop has been coming out solid and formed at first, followed by a little diarrhea. It doesn’t happen daily, but it’s been happening a couple times a week. Each time has been in the morning hours. She’s eating, drinking, and doesn’t seem to show any other symptoms, and there’s no blood or other substance in her feces. What do you think the issue is?

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. My first thoughts would be to make sure that she doesn't have a parasite, and have a fecal examination with your veterinarian. The other thing that may be happening is if she is eating something that she is not supposed to be, and it is affecting her GI tract. I hope everything goes well for her!

July 24, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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2.5 Years

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

None

My dog never had any accidents in our old house after being potty trained. We recently moved at the end of March and she now poops in the house almost daily when we are gone. She has free range of the house and a dog door where she has access to outside all day. She poops in the same spot behind the couch. What can we do to retrain her?

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear that you are having behavior issues with your dog. If she continues to go in the same spot try to block this spot off from her being able to reach. Some times these behaviors are their way of acting out because they are mad about the move. This is mainly going to take a lot of retraining and positive reinforcement when she does finally go in the correct spot. Good luck with training.

July 23, 2020

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