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How to stop a dog pooping in the house? Learn some good tips!

brown labrador pooping in the house advice
© Shutterstock

If you want to know how to stop a dog pooping in the house, you need to learn a couple of great techniques! Learn more with this amazing pet parent guide.

By Justine Seraphin

Dogs have many complex pooping behaviours that are difficult for humans to understand. However, the worst of all is when your dog poops indoors! You may have wondered why they do this to you! So unfortunately, when you see your dog pooping in the house, you tend to get angry. But this is the worst thing you can do!

You must understand that dogs behave like this due to a wide variety of reasons. If you get to the root of the problem, you can start a treatment plan to fix it!

One of the reasons for inappropriate toileting is a lack of training. Though dogs will not soil their den (i.e. their bed), they won’t necessarily see the whole house as their den unless you teach them that this is the case. Young puppies and newly adopted dogs need to go through the house-training process when they arrive in your home. This could take some time, so you need to patient and understanding!

However, training is not everything when it comes to this particular topic. Your dog could be suffering from a medical issue or even from anxiety! Fortunately for you, there are many different methods which are quite efficient at stopping your dog from pooping indoors.

Why is your dog pooping in the house?

When trying to understand this issue, you must ask yourself a couple of questions:

How old is your dog?

A dog's age can have a lot to do with the way he is eliminating. If you have a puppy, be aware that he may not be accustomed to your house rules yet. To add to this, his bladder is much smaller than an adult dog’s, and he won’t be able to hold it all in for as long. Young pups tend to pee or poop indoors but, although annoying, it is completely normal. All you can do is wait until your pup gets older - and of course, work on house-training!

Contrarily, senior dogs can have trouble with inappropriate toileting too. Indeed, elderly dogs may lose control of their bowel movements as they age. There’s not much that can be done about this, but you can put pads around the house and limit your dog’s access to certain rooms if you’d like to keep them clean. Diapers are an option for some, but you should discuss this with your vet before you purchase them. Some dogs can find them extremely uncomfortable, and as a result, will try to hold it in until the diapers are off. This can be very harmful to their health and well-being.

How long has it been since you adopted your dog?

If your newly adopted dog is pooping inside the house, it may just be as a result of stress and having to get used to a new routine. Moving in to a new house with a new family can be very overwhelming, and just as it happens to us humans, stress can easily trigger toileting issues! Just be patient and give your dog the chance to settle in. Some experts say it can take up to three months for a newly adopted dog to feel at home with his new family.

Did it happen all of a sudden?

If your dog is house-trained but he recently started pooping indoors, even after previously going outside to use the bathroom, it may be that he is suffering from a medical issue. If you fear that this could be the case, you should see a vet for a check up.

Has there been any change in your dog's life?

Major changes to a dog’s daily routine (e.g. moving to a new house, introducing a new pet to the family) can induce stress and can cause your dog's pooping habits to change as well. Similarly, if something scared your dog whilst he was out doing his business (e.g. a loud motorbike passing close to your garden while he was defecating), this may prevent him from wanting to eliminate in that same place again. You'll need to go back to basics and encourage your dog to use that spot again by praising him and giving him a treat when he does.

Poddle dog who pooped in the house
House training your puppy is very important ©Shutterstock

How to stop a dog pooping in the house?

If you’re not too sure what’s causing your dog’s inappropriate toileting, make sure you check the following off your list:

See a vet

The first thing you need to do is rule out the possibility that your dog may be sick. Dogs who urinate or defecate inappropriately may be suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome, a parasite, a food allergy, or muscle atrophy, for example. Your vet can perform a full examination of your pet - including blood samples, faecal samples, and x-rays, if he deems it necessary - and will treat any medical issues present. Once the medical problem is resolved, then your pet’s inappropriate behaviour should disappear too. However, if your pet gets the all-clear from the vet and continues to defecate inside the house, then you'll need to start focusing on behavioural modification methods to treat his inappropriate toileting.

House-train your dog

If you have a puppy or newly adopted adult dog, make sure you walk him often and regularly. Start with a walk or garden visit once every 2 hours, especially after play, naps, and meals. If your dog is fearful, be aware he’ll be more comfortable eliminating in a quieter area that is not too busy. Dogs can also have substrate preferences depending on where they come from. For instance, a puppy from a breeder may have been eliminating on newspaper for the first few weeks of his life, so it may feel weird for him to suddenly go on grass. You can help him by bringing a piece of newspaper out when you walk your dog, showing him that this is where he should be going now.

As time goes on, you can lengthen the amount of time between each walk/garden visit. Try to be as regular as possible with your dog’s meal and walk times. This will allow him to get used to a routine in his eliminating behaviour. Don’t forget to use positive reinforcement when training: every time you see him pooping outside, reward him with praise or even a small treat.

Avoid punishment

Punishing your dog for toileting in the house will only make him more anxious and therefore more likely to do it again, especially if the cause of his inappropriate elimination is stress. Moreover, if you punish your dog, he might start to avoid pooping in front of you, even during walks, because he is scared of your punishment. Then the only option he has left is to poop once he comes back home, all the while trying to hide from you! If he does poop indoors, pick up the poop and bring it to where your dog should’ve eliminated, then let him inspect it. It may seem silly, but this is a good way for a dog to chemically associate the area with elimination.

Treat separation anxiety

It could be that your dog is soiling inappropriately because he is suffering from separation anxiety when you are out of the house. You must gradually train your dog to be on his own, as this will not come naturally to such a social animal. Start by leaving the house for just a few seconds, then returning, and lengthening the amount of time you are out over time. You can use pheromone plug-ins recommended by your vet to keep your pet calm while you are out. You can also give him a treat dispensing toy before you leave so as to make sure he is kept busy for some time.

There are a variety of soothing dog-music soundtracks available online if you would like to leave your dog with some white noise in the house. If your dog is still very anxious when you are gone, try not to leave him alone for more than 4 hours at a time. You may need to find a professional dog sitter or doggy daycare to take care of your dog while you are at work.

Clean up the affected area properly

You can use the following products to clean the area of the house that your dog has soiled. Their odours will cover up the scent of his excrements and will prevent him from wanting to soil the same area again.

Golden retriever playing with toilet paper
Someone is having fun with the toilet paper ©Shutterstock

Vinegar

You can just spray or pour vinegar over the area where your dog eliminated indoors. Dogs are very sensitive to smell and they hate the scent of vinegar. They will avoid going over to that area again. You may have to re-apply vinegar once a week until your dog gets the message. Vets recommend diluting the vinegar with water as you repeat the treatments. This way your dog will remember the vague smell and just not go there.

Citronella Oil

Even though this oil is not as cheap as vinegar, it is excellent to fix inappropriate elimination! If you have a dog pooping in the house, buy some Citronella oil and use it on the area your dog eliminated on. Dogs hate this smell. While strong, the scent is kind of pleasant and is not uncomfortable for the human nose after some time. Lastly, it remains active for a long period of time!

Cayenne Pepper

Seeing a dog pooping in the house even after having been outside can be infuriating! Sprinkle cayenne pepper over the affected area. You can also mix the pepper with water or liquid soap to make it stickier. When your dog smells this, he will most likely never try to poop in the same area again. This method is very cheap and it is completely eco-friendly.

Final thoughts

Remember to ask yourself the questions previously mentioned. Sometimes, inappropriate elimination is a sign of a much deeper issue. However, when it comes to training, the only way is to be calm and patient! Follow the tips above and you should have a well-behaved pooch in no time! A dog pooping in the house can be incredibly frustrating - but with time and understanding on your part, you’ll get there in the end!

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