There is so much to love about our four-legged best friends, but a surprise “gift” on the carpet isn’t one of them!
It can be incredibly frustrating to have your dog poop in your home when you aren’t there.
Dogs poop when left alone because of miscommunication and scolding, stress, separation anxiety, not being taken out frequently, feeling unwell, or getting old. You can curb this unwanted behavior by developing a routine, reinforcing desired potty behavior, feeding good food, exercising, and treating separation anxiety.
In this article, I’ll be helping you combat this irritating problem, keeping your home a poop-free zone!
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Dogs don’t poop in the house when left alone for no reason, and sometimes the reason isn’t always just them misbehaving.
Much like any behavior, many factors play into why a dog may be defecating as you step outside the door to go to work!
Firstly, your dog may be pooping in the house because they don’t know how to ask to go outside.
Dogs and humans don’t speak the same language, so if you haven’t made it clear to your pup how to “request” outside access or if you’ve been ignoring your dog’s pleas to go outside, then your dog will be using the bathroom indoors.
If you proceed to scold your pup for pooping in the house, you’ve successfully created a scenario in which your dog will be inclined to poop when you aren’t there to see it!
If there has been a recent significant change, your dog may be pooping out of stress.
Considering we don’t exhibit positive behaviors when our potty-trained dog does their business in the house, your dog knows that this isn’t acceptable behavior. That is why your pup is pooping when you are gone.
Equally, sometimes stress comes about because you aren’t there.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, they will start to feel stress symptoms in your absence.
One such symptom is a weaker bladder or stomach, which causes them to relieve themselves. In addition, separation anxiety is a common problem amongst dogs, especially “pandemic puppies” that are used to us being home all of the time.
Yup, Fido pooping on your brand new rug when you step outside could very well be due to your bad timing. Dogs thrive best on a routine, as do their stomachs.
Taking your dog outside to potty at the appropriate time after feeding or playing can mitigate accidents in the house.
If your dog has to go and you’ve left home, they may not be able to hold it until you get back, which equals a mess to clean after a long day at work. You simply aren’t home to hear your dog asking to go potty outside!
If your four-legged best friend isn’t feeling well, accidents will definitely happen.
This is especially true if you’ve not noticed your dog’s change in behavior or other “I don’t feel well” symptoms before leaving the house. Sometimes, a random bout of belly aches can fall on your dog while you’re away.
If your dog doesn’t normally have accidents in the home and suddenly started, a vet visit may be in order.
Like humans, age does a number on an elderly dog.
From memory loss to losing sensation in certain body parts, incontinence isn’t uncommon in dogs getting up there in age.
If your absence from home corresponds with a time frame in which your dog usually needs to relieve themselves, their ability to hold it until you get back will start to dissipate the older they get - or your pup has genuinely forgotten that they went in the house!
Once you’ve started narrowing down why your pup poops when left alone, it’s time to tackle stopping it. Your next steps depend on what you believe could be triggering this behavior.
Just because your puppy should have outgrown the potty training phase of their development does not mean your positive reinforcement should end.
It’s best to indefinitely praise good bathroom behavior and choices in your dog for their entire life! Offer rewards to your dog for indicating that they have to go and for successfully going.
Dogs aim to please, and by continuing to display that you are pleased when they relieve themselves outside rather than on your hardwood floor, your dog receives the reinforcement they are looking for.
This further encourages them to not poop in the house when you aren’t home and instead hold it until you let them outside.
Ensuring there is little to no poop left in your dog’s body is a great way to keep them from, well, pottying in the house when left alone. That’s the crude (but honest) way of saying it!
Developing a routine that focuses on when your dog eats and when your dog usually has to go is a great way to curb the indoor accident situation. Make sure you take your dog out properly before heading out the door.
Leave yourself enough time to be positive that Fido went number two outside or to encourage your dog to go (as some dogs need a little extra time running around outside before finally doing the squat you’ve been waiting for).
Rushing or pressuring your dog could backfire on you, causing your pup to feel stressed and unhappy being outside and undoing their potty training.
A tired dog is a good dog - and this can apply to indoor accidents as well. With proper exercise and mental stimulation before you leave the house, your pup should be too tired to make an unpleasant mess.
Tiring them out makes dogs much more satisfied and inclined to lay down and sleep in your absence.
Plus, both mental and physical stimulation leads to better health, a win/win scenario!
Giving your dog proper nutrition can help them in various ways, from a healthy weight to beautifully shiny fur.
A good diet can also help with potty time as they may not feel the urge as often as they would with bad food.
You see, all poop is the parts of the food that your body is now rejecting or wasn’t absorbed into the system. So the healthier a dog eats, the more of the food is absorbed into their body.
By feeding good food, you can actually change how frequently your dog has to go outside, which can help remedy the issue of being home alone and needing to go.
Although separation anxiety is a common problem in domestic dogs, it’s not an easy fix.
If your dog is pooping in the house when left alone as a result of becoming stressed and panicked when you leave, it is a good idea to consult a dog trainer that specializes in treating separation anxiety.
A professional dog trainer can help walk you through the steps necessary to help your pup get over this irrational response to being left alone and, as a result, end-all of the separation anxiety symptoms (such as destruction, self-mutilation, and pooping in the house).
Just make sure to check your trainer’s credentials and years of experience to make sure they know what they are doing. If training doesn’t mitigate the problem, you can call your vet and ask about prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications (if the anxiety is severe).
As with any unusual behavior, if pooping in the house is something your dog hasn’t done before and you’ve ruled out all potential causes of stress, a call to your vet should be at the top of the agenda.
This could indicate a belly issue and gastric upset.