Few things are more frustrating than coming home and happily greeting your dog, only to be met with a pile of stinky dog poop on your freshly cleaned floors. When this happens on a single, rare occasion, you might think nothing of it, but if your dog is regularly pooping in the house, you might begin to think they’re doing it on purpose.
However, dogs don’t house soil due to spite or frustration. If they’ve been thoroughly house trained and suddenly begin to poop inside, it’s likely that they’re experiencing a behavioral or physical health problem. The true source of that problem is up to you and your vet to figure out.
If your dog has started to poop around the house, here are five potential reasons why:
- Poor housing training: After adopting a new puppy, many pet owners think they’ve successfully house trained their dog after they have pooped in the right place a few times in a row. However, this process might take a little longer than you think to be completely solidified in your dog’s brain. If your pup is still young, it’s likely that they require a little more house training. Try to create and enforce a schedule for your dog’s meals and potty breaks—dogs acclimate to these schedules pretty quickly. Additionally, make sure you’re giving your pup ample time to sniff around and take in the sights before they go; the outdoors might just be too distracting for an excitable pup for them to go right away.
- Infrequent potty breaks: If you consistently return home from a long day at work and find that your dog has pooped inside, you might be leaving your dog alone for too long, to the point where they just can’t hold it anymore. Consider coming home over your lunch break to let your pup out or hire a pet sitter to take your dog for a walk during the day. Doggie daycare is also a great option for this, since your dog will have ample potty break opportunities while also socializing and having fun!
- Anxiety: Dogs with anxiety problems—namely separation anxiety—may poop inside the house when they are feeling stressed. When under duress, many dogs are unable to control their urge to urinate or defecate, leading even the best house-trained pup to have accidents indoors. Consider the timing of when your dog poops inside the house. Does it always happen while you’re away from home? If it’s also accompanied by inappropriate urination and destruction, separation anxiety may be the problem. If your dog poops in the house while you’re home in response to loud noises or other stressful events, it may be a general anxiety problem.
- Medical problem: Your dog’s house soiling problem could also be attributed to a medical issue. Numerous ailments could cause your dog to poop inside, including food allergies, food poisoning and infections. Two of the most common, however, are inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and intestinal parasites. IBD is a frustrating condition that causes sudden and chronic inflammation in the intestines. The result is often digestive upset and diarrhea that your dog can’t hold in. Intestinal worms like hookworms or roundworms can also lead to house soiling. Dogs with intestinal parasites tend to suffer from diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody, due to inflammation of the intestinal walls. Your vet will need to examine your dog to discover the underlying medical issue at hand and prescribe the appropriate treatment plan.
- Aging: House soiling is perhaps most common in older pets due to the progressive symptoms of aging. Your older dog may be suffering from a physical problem, such as muscular atrophy that inhibits their ability to hold waste for long periods of time. Older dogs might also develop cognitive dysfunction, which can make them confused and forget where it is appropriate to defecate, leading to accidents anywhere in your home.
If your dog suddenly begins a bad house soiling habit, the most important thing to do is remain patient. Do not scold or punish your dog for their behavior—it’s not their fault! Instead, you’ll need to redirect them and attempt to teach them where it is appropriate to poop, all while looking out for signs of a medical problem.
If the behavior persists and/or you notice your dog displaying signs of illness, you’ll want to have your pup examined by your vet. They’ll be able to determine whether your furry friend has an underlying problem causing their incontinence and assist you in taking the right steps to correct their behavior.