There are so many great things about dog ownership, most notably the companionship and love you get when you become best friends with one of "man's best friends." But no matter how much you love your dog, there's no denying that some parts of ownership aren't exactly enviable, particularly those aspects that involve potty time. Whether you're potty training a puppy or you're having issues with an already housebroken dog that keeps going to the bathroom in the house, something is definitely wrong if your dog is pooping in the house and it's important to figure out why before you try to stop it.
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Potty training puppy problems
Obviously when your dog keeps going to the bathroom in the house, most of the time this involves puppies who aren't fully potty trained, but, puppy or not, it's frustrating when you take your pup outside to go potty and she waits until you're inside again to go poop. One of the biggest reasons this can happen is because she is distracted while outside and doesn't think to go potty.
For a young dog who might spend the majority of time inside, going outside is an adventure and she may want to explore, sniff, dig, etc., all without thinking about the one thing she's supposed to be doing out there, which is to use the bathroom. This can even happen to adult dogs if they haven't been getting enough outside time.
To stop the problem of distractions, first make sure your dog, no matter what her age, gets sufficient time outside. If the only time she goes outside is to go potty, then you need to make your bathroom sessions long enough for her to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. Try to establish a routine where she goes to the bathroom first and then gets to play and just enjoy being outside. If she goes poo and pee immediately, celebrate by not taking her in right away, or she may try to hold it in next time so she has more time to play outside.
Distractions could be the problem even if your puppy goes poo, but then goes again when you get inside as it could be because your pup gets distracted before he is done pooping and he only finishes when you're inside. If you're walking around or praising and rewarding your pup the second he starts to go, this could actually be what's distracting your pup. While you should absolutely praise him for going potty outside, stay still while your pup does his business. And hold your applause and treats (preferably hidden in a treat bag) until he's fully finished and starts to walk away so you don't distract him halfway through.
Your schedules aren't lined up
Alternatively, it could just be that you haven't figured out your pup's schedule yet. You might think that she should go potty right after eating breakfast, but she might need to go 20 minutes after she eats. So you take her out and, as soon as you come back in, she goes potty. This could also be the case for older dogs who have only recently been adopted and although they are potty trained, they haven't adapted to your schedule yet.
Also, puppies don't just need to go pee more than adult dogs, their tiny little digestive systems move more quickly than an adult dog, so they also need to poop more. Fortunately, if you're taking your pup out enough for him to consistently empty his bladder, it should be frequent enough for him to empty his bowels too.
If your dog is peeing and pooping in the house though, then you may just need to take him out more frequently. While many people swear by the month plus one rule that says you add one to the dog's age in months to find out how many hours he can wait to go to the bathroom, as Pet Helpful explains, this "rule" isn't actually accurate and a better rule is to find out what works for your puppy and take him out accordingly.
If the issue is a matter of scheduling, whether you're dealing with a puppy, an adult dog, or a senior, it's really just a matter of figuring out when and how often your pup needs to go and letting her out accordingly. This might take some trial and error, but remember that it's easier on both of you if you err on the side of caution and go out more frequently than necessary rather than wait until she has an accident and then shorten the amount of time you make her stay inside. Also remember that once you find a schedule that works for you both, you need to stick with it because once a dog is used to going at a certain time, making her wait significantly longer isn't fair to her.
Your dog may be anxious
While the most common reason a dog will be distracted while outside is because he is excited and wants to see and smell everything outside, fear can be a powerful distraction as well. Additionally, many dogs try to avoid going to the bathroom until they feel relaxed because they don't want to leave potential predators a way to smell their presence. If your pooch doesn't feel safe on his walks or in his yard, he may be too worried to do his business. This could be because he hears loud noises, smells other dogs who have scared him in the past, or because he had a traumatic experience outside
Dealing with this problem will depend on the specifics of your situation. As Pet Helpful points out, if you have recently rescued a nervous dog, your best option may be to train her to use pee pads inside until he starts to become more comfortable outside. This might also be the right move if a dog you've had for a while was mauled by another dog on a walk and you don't have a yard, since most areas you walk your dog will have dog scents that may continue to freak out your pup.
If you've had the dog for a while and know the cause of his fears, you might instead immediately adjust your routine to make your dog more comfortable. If your small pooch was attacked by a bird in the yard, you could take him on walks instead. If loud noises are scaring your pup, you might want to take him somewhere else where it's more quiet. If you notice the accidents only happen when you're gone, then it could be that your pup has separation anxiety and you may need to work with a trainer to help ease this problem or check your dog into doggy daycare while you're gone, according to Intermountain Pet.
Underlying medical issues
Most people assume that a potty trained dog urinating in the house is a behavioral issue, but as Wag points out, urinating or pooping in the house could actually be due to a number of medical issues. If you can't get to the bottom of why your dog is going potty after you already let him outside, you should take her to the vet. The veterinarian will perform an exam and run tests to find out if your dog's problem is due to a health condition, which Web MD says may include issues such as parasites, viral infections, food intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, bowel cancer, arthritis, canine cognitive dysfunction, or muscular atrophy.
Depending on the underlying cause of the problem, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe a medication or perform a surgery that can help, but if there is no treatment to alleviate the problem, she may at least be able to suggest how to best manage the issue to make things easier for you and your pup.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.