Anyone who has toilet trained a new puppy or dog will know that accidents are a normal part of the process. However, if your pooch has been housetrained for some time, it can be alarming if they start pooping in the house suddenly.
If your dog does start pooping in the house, it’s important to figure out why this change in bowel habits has occurred. Sometimes this will be easy, and the cause will be obvious. In other cases, more investigation will be required.
Either way, it’s important to persevere, as pinpointing whether your dog is suffering from an underlying medical problem or a behavioural issue is really important. Knowing the cause of their pooping mishaps will directly inform their treatment plan.
Below, you’ll find some of the most obvious reasons why your dog is pooping in the house all of a sudden and some simple tips to retrain them.
Just remember, if you’re worried about any sudden changes your pup’s poops (for example, if you see blood in their stool), it’s important to consult a vet immediately.
Incontinence can be a problem that occurs in dogs of any age but is especially common in older dogs.
If your pooch is elderly, your dog is likely pooping in the house due to an issue like cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as disorientation, fear, behavioural changes and lack of appetite.
Although it is a degenerative disease – like Alzheimer’s – that has no cure, it can be managed with help from your vet.
Aside from old age, there are 6 common causes of a dog suddenly pooping inside. These include:
- Food allergies.
- Intestinal parasites.
- Bacterial infections.
- Viral diseases.
- Stomach flu.
- Poor diet.
If you’re worried about the above and want to check the status of your dog’s poop, why not try our healthy poop chart guide. These conditions are serious and shouldn’t go untreated by a vet. If left unchecked, they may cause long-term health conditions in your dog.
If your dog poops in the house when alone then it may be suffering from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety, meaning feelings of worry and upset, is triggered when a dog is separated from their owners and caregivers.
As well as defecation, a dog suffering with separation anxiety may bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape. In reacting to these feelings of distress, they can cause damage to themselves and your house.
You can test whether this is the cause of your dog pooping inside by leaving your dog in the house for a short while and seeing if an accident occurs. A visit to a behavioural specialist can help you manage separation anxiety in your dog.
Along with separation anxiety, general stress can also lead a dog to start pooping in the house.
Like with people, a dog’s digestive system is sensitive to big, sudden changes. Life event triggers, for example, like moving house can cause your dog to become stressed.
Welcoming a new family member into the household (either a human or animal), can also cause a lot of anxiety for a dog. In turn, this can disrupt their bowels.
Even loud noises from home improvements can make dogs anxious, causing them to startle and poop in the house.
To manage sudden pooping due to stress, try to remove stressors where possible. And, when it comes to making changes to your dog’s routine, try to ease them in slowly, making any changes very gradually.
A change in bowel habits is a common side effect of changing your dog’s diet. You only have to read about kibble vs raw dog food to know how dramatically these two different diets can impact a dog’s poop.
However, if your dog is pooping in the house as a result of dietary changes, it can be a sign that your dog is reacting badly to new foods.
For pet parents worried this might be the case, the first thing to do is to check that your dog isn’t consuming foods that are toxic for canines. Some human food just isn’t suitable for our pups!
Second, make sure that the food you are feeding your dog is good quality and not full of poor-quality, artificial fillers. Instead, focus on feeding your dog healthy, nutritious food full of vegetables and digestible proteins.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that dogs are as unique as humans: some just have more temperamental digestive systems that others. For these types of dogs, a grain-free dog food designed for sensitive stomachs can be a great choice.
Finally, make any transition to a new diet slowly, ideally over the period of several weeks. This should allow their stomach to adjust to the new food.
How to stop a dog from pooping in the house ?
- You may be able to stop your dog from pooping in the house by following the steps below. If you’re concerned about changes in your dog’s pooping behaviour, however, it is best to consult with a vet or behavioural expert.
- Clean any mess with an enzymatic cleaner instead of the usual disinfectant. Normal household cleaning products can actually encourage dogs to go to the loo in the same spot again.
- Use synthetic pheromones. For stressed dogs, these can have a relaxing effect. However, they don’t work on every dog.
- Use these following tips to retrain your dog:
- Learn the signs that your dog needs the loo
- Pacing, panting, circling, whining, barking or general restlessness.
- Sniffing the ground, lowered body posture, curving to the ground/squatting.
- Going to the door.
- Then, establish a routine
- When they wake up – first thing in the morning and after any naps during the day.
- After eating and after drinking.
- After a period of activity – e.g. after playtime or zooming around.
- Before bedtime – try to make their last trip outside as late as you can.
- Reinforce good behaviour with praise
- Reinforce good behaviour - e.g. going to the loo outside – with some gentle praise.
- Don’t give them treats as they may associate treats with going to the loo in general, not just outside!