There is nothing quite as unpleasant as coming home, opening the door, and being hit in the face with the smell of dog poop. If you have just got a new puppy, you probably expected a few accidents, and knew you would need to spend some time and effort housetraining your new charge, but what if you have just acquired an adult dog that is pooping in your house, or if your previously housetrained dog has suddenly started having accidents?
Before you start working on training your dog not to poop in the house, you should try to determine why it is happening. If you have just acquired an adult dog, especially if they are a rescue or shelter dog, they may never have been trained not to poop in the house. Some small dogs are even trained to poop indoors, on puppy pads or newspapers, and if you decide to change this, you will need to teach the dog a new bathroom habit. Also, a new adult dog may be experiencing anxiety about his change in surroundings or may be confused and may accidentally poop in the house. In these situations, you will need to make your expectations clear, take some precautions to minimize accidents, and invest some time training your dog not to poop in the house.
It is also advisable to rule out a medical condition, especially if your previously housetrained dog starts having accidents. Medical reasons a dog may break housetraining and poop in the house include tummy troubles caused by parasites, food allergies or illness, cognitive impairment, and bowel disease. If your dog is experiencing a medical condition, treatment of that condition may eliminate pooping in the house.
The best way to teach a new dog, or revise the house pooping habits of an older dog, is to prevent the unwanted behavior and create a new habit. This will involve preventing the dog from accidentally pooping in the house, with careful supervision to intervene if your dog looks like he is going to relieve himself on your carpet, using a crate, or tethering your dog, to reduce the likelihood he is going to poop in the house. Also, giving frequent bathroom breaks outside helps establish that outside is for pooping and prevents accidents. Having a designated spot in your yard, where you can direct your dog to poop, can eliminate some of the confusion about where he should relieve himself and can make training easier.
If you are training your dog not to poop in the house, you should carefully observe his feeding and defecating habits and schedule so you have a good idea of when your dog needs to go poop and can appropriately direct him. Keeping your dog in an area of the house where he never has accidents, or using a crate to confine him in the house so that he does not have the opportunity to make a mistake and reinforce his house pooping habit, will be required. Some owners use a tether method, which will require a lead and somewhere to tie your dog, such as hooks on a baseboard. Use caution tying your dog to furniture--if it moves, your dog could become frightened or injured.
Creating a designated bathroom space outside, to direct your dog to, can also help eliminate any confusion your dog is experiencing about where to go to the bathroom. Lots of treats to reward appropriate bathroom habits should be available. The best reward for a dog defecating in the appropriate spot is a walk or outside play time, so make sure you have the time to provide this reward to your dog. Be prepared for some accidents, and avoid punishing accidents, as it is generally ineffective in preventing the behavior and can just confuse and frighten a dog that is already experiencing anxiety or confusion regarding appropriate bathroom habits. If you are unavailable for large stretches of time to let your dog outside, getting a dog walker, sitter, or neighbor to help you may be a good idea.