How to Train Your Older Dog to Not Poop in the House

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

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.

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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.

The Crate Training Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Provide crate
When you are not home or when you are not directly available to supervise your dog, confine your dog to a crate. The crate should be the right size for your dog to be comfortable, have soft bedding, and be stocked with a toy or chew toy to keep you dog happy.
Step
2
Take directly out
Let your dog out every few hours and take him directly outside to a designated bathroom spot in the yard. Give your dog a command to poop.
Step
3
Reward with walk
Wait for your dog to poop. If he does, reward him with a treat and take him for a walk.
Step
4
Confine to prevent accidents
If your dog does not relieve himself, take him back into his crate.
Step
5
Decrease crate confinement
Repeat for several days, gradually let your dog out of his crate for longer periods while still carefully supervising him. If he looks like he is about to poop, take him immediately to his bathroom spot. After several days, your dog should have learned where his bathroom spot in the yard is.
Recommend training method?

The Reduce Anxiety Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Set up place and schedule
Make sure your dog has lots of bathroom breaks, call in a dog sitter or neighbor if necessary, if you are away from the house for more than a few hours. Create an outdoor bathroom space for consistency and to eliminate confusion.
Step
2
Reduce anxiety
Give your dog lots of exercise, and play, to reduce anxiety, and increase socialization opportunities. Provide lots of new experiences.
Step
3
Reinforce appropriate behavior
Take your dog frequently to his bathroom spot outside. When he uses it, give him a treat and take him for a walk.
Step
4
Don't create anxiety
If an anxious dog poops in the house, never punish him. Not only is it unlikely that your dog will associate punishment with pooping if there is any time lag, but it will only serve to make an anxious or confused dog more afraid and confused. If you catch your dog eliminating in the house calmly but firmly say, “outside” and take him to his bathroom spot.
Step
5
Be consistent
Be consistent and patient over several days, direct your dog to one spot for eliminating. Calm, consistent, clear direction and interaction on your part will counteract anxiety and clear up confusion, so that your dog will learn not to poop in the house.
Recommend training method?

The Tether Training Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Introduce a tether
Put your dog on a short leash or tether no more than 6 feet long.
Step
2
Tether your dog
When you are in the room with your dog, you can tether the dog to your waist or belt, or you can put hooks on baseboards or door jambs and tether your dog to those. Most dogs will not poop when in a confined area, and if he is tethered to you, you will immediately notice if he looks like he is going to poop.
Step
3
Provide bathroom opportunities
Regularly take your dog outside, or if you seem him sniffing around indicating he might need to go, to a designated poop area outside.
Step
4
Reward with walk
If your dog does not relieve himself, go back inside. If he does, give him a treat, and take him for a walk on a long leash, reward him in an enclosed area with off-lead time if possible.
Step
5
Continue
Repeat for several days, until your dog has established that pooping is rewarded outside and he has not had the opportunity to poop inside, eliminating that habit.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Baxter
Havanese
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Baxter
Havanese
5 Years

I will take the dog out; we can be out there as long as 20 minutes and he will not poop; we go in and he goes straight to the dining room and poops

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Deanna, I know that can be frustrating, there are a few things that you can do to try to get him to begin eliminating outside instead. First you will need to clean up any areas where he has pooped or peed inside with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes and no ammonia. The enzymes break up the protein in the feces and urine, and if those proteins are not broken up then even if you cannot smell the poop or pee anymore you dog will still be able to, and the smell will encourage him to go to the bathroom again in that same spot. Also Ammonia smells like pee to a dog so it will encourage him to pee there, so avoid that. You will need to start confining him whenever you bring him back inside, after he has refused to use the bathroom while outside. A crate that is small enough that he cannot use the bathroom in one end and stand in the other will work best. Take him to the bathroom outside, if he goes there, then bring him in and give him freedom until you know he may need to use the bathroom again. If he does not go, then bring him inside and put him in his crate for thirty to forty minutes so that he will be encouraged to hold it and will not be able to eliminate in your house. After that time, take him back outside to try again. Repeat this until he becomes desperate enough that he will eliminate outside. When he poops or pees outside, praise him and offer him three small treats, one at a time. You can also encourage him to go potty more quickly outside by purchasing a spray from your local pet store that will smell like poop or pee to your dog. Spray that spray onto the area outside that you would like for him to go on and let him sniff it. The spray should help him to think about going. While he is peeing or pooping begin to tell him "Go Potty" before giving him his treats. Doing that will also train him to go when you tell him to, over time. Practice the crating protocol until he will use the bathroom outside every time when you take him and tell him "Go Potty". When he is using the bathroom outside very well, then you can begin to give him more freedom outside of the crate only when you know he has either already eliminated outside, so is less likely to go indoors, or when you can directly watch him. When he begins to go potty outside every time then he will naturally not need the crate as much. Best of luck training Baxter, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Baxter's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Bella
Chow Chow
One Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
Chow Chow
One Year

Bella does not poop or pee in the main part of the house but if she gets in the basement she will go there. How do I break her of this? She has a doggie door so when she is in the main level she will go outside in the yard/

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lynn, Does Bella have a way to alert to when she needs to go to the bathroom while in the basement? If she does not, then since she is used to going to the doggie door whenever she needs to go out rather than alerting you, she might be going simply because she does not know what to do instead. Once that has happened several times, she probably formed a habit of going in the basement, and smells the old urine and poop if you did not use an enzymatic specific cleaner. I would recommend training her to use a bell to let you know when she needs to go outside while she is in the basement. Place the bell in an easy to location spot, such as hanging low enough for her to reach on a door going outside in the basement. When she is in the basement, take her outside every two to three hours on a leash, and have her ring the bell on her way out each time. When she gets outside, tell her "Go Potty" and let her sniff. If she goes potty, then give her three treats, one at a time. Even though she knows how to pee outside, you are rewarding her for asking by ringing the bell and then going after she asked, to teach her to ring the bell and to motivate her to want to pee outside again while in the basement. If she does not go when you take her then bring her back inside, and put her in a crate or another small confined area, that you are confident she will not pee in. After thirty minutes there, take her back outside to try again. Repeat this process until she goes when you take her. After she goes then she can have two to three more hours of freedom in the basement. Do this whenever she is in the basement until she will go over to the bell and ring it whenever she needs to go to the bathroom, and until she is having no more accidents in the house. It might be inconvenient to take her so often, but the more accidents that you can prevent and the more successes she has peeing outside, the quicker she will learn to go only outside, and you will break the habit of going inside. It takes several successful times of eliminating outside to make up for one accident in the home, so prevention is extremely important or training will not work. The crate is a good tool for preventing elimination in an area because most dogs naturally not eliminate in a small, confined space, where they cannot avoid their own pee and poop. Not wanting to eliminate in the crate can prevent accidents but also remind her to hold her bladder in the basement. Also be sure to clean up any previous or future accidents with a spray that contains enzymes. The enzymes will break down the pee and poop on a protein level. Only then will Bella not be able to still smell it. If she smells the old urine or poop places, the smell will encourage her to eliminate there again. Also avoid using cleaners in the area that contain Ammonia, because Ammonia smells like urine to a dog. To teach her how to ring the bell check out these Wag articles: https://wagwalking.com/training/with-a-bell https://wagwalking.com/training/got-potty-with-a-bell Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Bella's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Frankie
Frenchton
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Frankie
Frenchton
1 Year

Frankie is so stubborn about pooping. She will not poop in the living room if contained (all doors shut and stairs gated off) but if one of my kids happens to leave any other doors open she will go in and poop. We use a bell on the door and that works most of the time but she still does not like to poop outside. I’m at my wits end. Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Niki, First of all when she does poop inside make sure that you are using a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes. Only the enzymes will break down the poop enough to eliminate the smell enough for her not to be able to smell where she previously went. Any remaining scent will attract her back to the same area, particularly if that area is carpeted. Also purchase a spray designed to encourage elimination. You can get it online or at most large pet stores. It is typically called "Hurry Spray", "Training Spray", or something similar, and found in the house breaking or training section of the store. When you take her outside to go potty, spray the spray onto an area where she will some times poop and let her sniff the area to find a spot to eliminate. The smell of the spray will encourage her to go. Also make sure that you are taking outside about twenty minutes after she eats because eating will cause her to need to go, even if she just peed outside beforehand. After she pees outside make sure that you are walking her around again to encourage her to poop as well. Most dogs will not pee or poop right in a row. They typically need sniff around again and think about going for a minute before they will go. When she beings to pee or poop tell her "Go Potty", and after she poops outside give her three small treats, one at a time. By encouraging her to eliminate outside with the spray and giving her treats when she does, she should begin to prefer to go outside because when she does it inside she does not get treats. Make sure that when you take her outside that you either take her on a leash or follow her around your yard to remind her to go and make sure that she is actually pooping when she is out there. Many dogs will get distracted while outside and forget to go and then need to eliminate still when they return inside. This is less of a problem with peeing because territorial instinct and smells outside will encourage Frankie to pee, but pooping often needs more encouragement. Before she can be trusted to eliminate on her own outside without supervision she needs to go several months without an accident inside. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Frankie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Bella
Jack Russell Terrier
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
Jack Russell Terrier
3 Years

I have a jack Russell who is coming up for 3 years old and I have had her since she was 8weeks. She is fully house trained and will let You know when she wants out for The toilet however I have to keep her in the same room as me as if she is left alone or is allowed to wonder the house she will do solid poops all over the room we are not in... I mean a bit on the sofa, some on the door mat, some on the kitchen floor and generally everywhere she can (despite being out just 10 minutes before hand) if she doesn’t have any poop left she will run away in the a different room and pee. When she is with us she is no problem and isn’t anxious or uncomfortable and as I said will tell you when she wants out.. very vocal. Is there anything I can do to stop this ? I’m at my whitts end.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nikkii, When you take her outside to poop does she poop multiple times while outside as well. Normally a dog will poop one or two times, getting everything out at once. If she is pooping multiple times outside when she goes, then have her evaluated by your vet. Something medical might be going on, such as a back up of poop, as gross as that sounds. It that is the case she would probably still be able to hold it with you, and would because she knows that she should not poop in front of you, but if she constantly feels like she needs to go, the the temptation to go in the house and "relax" when you are not with her would be strong, making it hard to potty train her. If you treat the root cause it should become normal to house break her again. If she only goes one time outside and it is enough for her not to be backed up still when she returns inside, then the next thing to check is what you are cleaning your floors with. If your floors smell like Ammonia from a cleaner, or poop from previous accidents that were cleaned up with something that did not contain enzymes, then she is probably associating the house with being outside and thinks that she is just not supposed to poop in your presence and doesn't associate the lesson with being in the house. The solution then would be to remove the smell by not using Ammonia containing cleaners and by cleaning your floors, and especially and future accidents, with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes that will break down the pee and poop better. You can also try purchasing an exercise pen. Create a resting area with a crate or bed that she will not chew inside the pen, and add some safe chew toys. I recommend purchasing Kong type hollow chew toys and stuffing them with her dog food so that she associates the area with eating too. Make sure that she has eliminated outside beforehand, and then have her spend time in the exercise pen when you are not with her. Set up the exercise pen in one room at a time. After she has spend about a month in the pen in one room, move it into another room. Continue doing this until she has spent time in each of the rooms while in the pen. This will only be effective if she does not have a medical issue though so pay attention to that. If she poops in the exercise pen despite not having a medical issue then try this with a crate instead. The idea is the get her used to spending alone time in each room while encouraging her to hold it due to the smaller, more personal space, of the exercise pen. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Bella's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Georgie
Maltese-Shitzu
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Georgie
Maltese-Shitzu
3 Years

My dog is three years old and potty trained for the most part. He goes potty outside, but will poop in the house on occasion. Never in front of my husband or myself. More recently, he has begun to pee on my clothes if they are on the floor. I have no idea why he does this because he doesn't pee in the house otherwise and he does not pee on my husband's clothes. To prevent him from peeing on my clothes, I just pick them up or keep my closet closed, but sometimes my husband will forget to close the door completely and my dog will go in and pee on my clothes. Any suggestions on why he is doing this and how I can stop it? Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
30 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alisha, Has Georgie ever used Pee Pads? If he has, then he might be pooping in the house because of that. Some dogs that temporarily use Pee Pads will begin to eliminate on other soft, fabric type material when they cannot find a Pee Pad to eliminate on anymore. This especially true if he is choosing rugs, mats, carpeting, or other fabric type material to eliminate on, opposed to hardwood or linoleum flooring. The first step is to make sure that you are cleaning up all accidents with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes. The enzymes will break down the pee and poop and remove the smell well enough for your pup to not be able to smell it. Other cleaners only remove the smell so that humans cannot smell it. I would recommend washing any clothes of yours that he has eliminated on with a laundry detergent booster that has enzymes in it too. Nature's Miracle has a laundry booster with enzymes that you can probably order online. You will need to get rid of any lingering smells in your home or those smells will just counteract the training. Also avoid cleaners that contain Ammonia because Ammonia smells like pee to a dog. Once you have eliminated the smells, then I would suggest purchasing a doggie diaper and having Georgie wear it inside the house to discourage him from eliminating. You can buy disposable ones and fabric ones that you can add disposable liners too. After the first couple of accidents you should not need a liner anymore though because he will hopefully learn not to go while wearing it. I recommend the fabric ones because he is less likely to tear those up and you can reuse it for a long time. The point of the diaper is to prevent accidents from happening and to break that habit. After you have removed the smell of previous accidents and put the diaper on him, then begin to give him five small treats whenever he eliminates outside. Take him outside on a leash, tell him to "Go Potty", and then give him the treats, one at a time, when he goes. This is to motivate him to go outside rather than somewhere else. He is essentially exchanging his pee and poop for treats so that he will want to wait to go outside to eliminate, which will give him an incentive to hold it since keeping your home clean does not appear to be enough of an incentive on its own. If the above suggestions do not solve the clothes peeing part also, then set up something that you can create noise with remotely to surprise him, and leave a camera pointing towards some of your clothes left on the floor, so that you can spy on him. Leave him alone in the room with the clothes. As soon as he begins to squat to pee on the clothes, create your noise to surprise him. You will need to repeat this several times and make sure that you are not in the room when this happens so that he does not associate the surprise with you and become afraid of peeing in front of you. I would also recommend practicing this in areas where you do not want him to go on his own anyways, such as your closet. This is in case he begins to avoid that entire area for a while after you do this. Make sure that you are still following the other steps with the diaper, treat rewards for eliminating outside, and effective cleaning also when you do this, or you may not see success.. You likely already have a camera device that you can use, rather than having to buy one. Some common options are GoPro cameras with the live feature on the GoPro app, two smart phone or tablet devices with Skype or Facetime transmitted to one another on mute, Security cameras with portable phone apps, and video baby monitors and receivers. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Georgie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd