Any dogs, even the well-trained ones, can accidentally poop in the house in the middle of the night sometimes.
Before you scratch your head wondering how did this happens, let’s find out what are the common causes and what you can do to stop it.
Why Does My Dog Poop in The House at Night?
All reasons as to why your dog poops in the house at night can be divided into two categories: behavioral reasons and medical reasons.
The following three causes are especially relevant for young pups without any medical issues.
- Your dog has never been housetrained in your home.
- Your dog feels stressed.
- Your dog has trouble communicating with you.
If you just adopted a new, young puppy, this is completely normal. Even for an adult, housetrained dog; if they have never been housetrained “in your home,” you can expect a few accidents to happen.
Before acquiring a dog, you need to ask the breeder, the rescue, or the shelter where you get the dog from about whether or not the dog has been adequately housetrained.
If they have been fully housetrained, the next step is to find out how they are trained. Some dogs may be prepared to poop on pads while others in the newspaper.
If you change their normal behavior without proper re-training, they may become nervous, and as a result, poop indoors in the middle of the night.
Even if you follow everything that the breeder says, your new dog may still have difficulty to adjust to your schedule or a new food that you give. Therefore, for a newly-adopted dog, the best solution is to re-housetraining them again, which I’ll cover more in the next section.
The next two common reasons are separation anxiety and trouble communicating with you. Those two problems should disappear in a few weeks once your new pooch has felt comfortable with you.
If you’re sure that your dog doesn’t have any of the behavioral reasons mentioned above, then you should be suspicious, especially after years of no pooping accidents, that the cause of your dog’s pooping problems is the medical one.
Because dogs can’t communicate with you in the same ways as humans can, you need to observe your dog’s health conditions and find any signs that confirm your suspicion.
The first place that you want to take a look at is their stools. Look carefully if their stools are loose or if they have diarrhea. Then look at their stomach and see if their belly is inflamed.
All of these could be signs that your dog has:
- Viral infections
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Food intolerance
- Bowel cancer
- Kidney disease
- Bladder stones
These ailments make them feel pain when they move. As a result, they may be more reluctant to go outside at night to relieve themselves.
Older Dog Poops in The House in The Middle of The Night
The most reason why older dog poops in the house in the middle of the night are because of aging. Much like humans, when your dog gets older, they have a harder time controlling their bowel movements.
Older dogs can also suffer from canine Alzheimer’s disease. If your dog suffers from one, they may forget their housetraining and become confused with their surroundings, which makes them poop in the middle of the night because they are too scared to go outside.
How to Stop a Dog from Pooping in The House at Night?
The following are the basic housetraining steps that you can use to fix your dog’s pooping problems quickly.
1. Develop a New Eating Habits
The easiest way to prevent your new dog from pooping in the house at night is by changing their eating habits. Prior to doing this method, you may want to ask the breeder or the shelter first how they feed their puppies.
Most dog trainers that I had been talked to agree that, under normal circumstances, it’s better to feed your puppy three to four times a day, for puppies under five months of age.
Or two times a day for adult dogs with dinner should be given early in the evening, around two to three hours before going to bed. Do not give them treats in the evening or at night.
Make sure you feed your dog enough. You don’t want to feed them too little or too much as these can make them suffer from a number of health issues like bloat or gas. If you’re not sure, ask your vet or follow the feeding directions on the dog food labels to determine the right portion size.
For dinner, be sure to avoid feeding your dog with foods that are heavy in protein or foods that can cause constipation such as cheese.
Most dogs have bowel movement 15-30 minutes after they eat, but if they eat foods that are too heavy to digest, their bowel movements will be sluggish and thus poop late at night.
2. Take Your Dog on a Walk
Movement encourages bowel movements and pooping. It also exhausts your dog so they won’t be wandering around the house at night while you’re sleeping.
So you may want to take your dog on a walk around the block or play some games about 20-30 minutes after dinner.
Morning walk or jog after their breakfast is a good idea as well if you have some free time before going to work. After the walk is over, you may want to encourage your dog to poop outdoors and praise them when they do it.
After a few weeks, this morning walk routine will help correct your dog’s unwanted pooping behavior.
3. Limit Your Dog’s Movement at Night
Most dogs don’t feel comfortable pooping in a small confined area they sleep in.
So by limiting their movement at night — closing their bedroom, or putting them in a crate (read more about crate training here— you can decrease the chance of your dog pooping at night.
4. Create a Designated Bathroom Spot Outside
Your dog might still be confused about where to do their business. In this case, it will be helpful to create a designated spot in your yard.
In the first few weeks, you want to give them frequent bathroom breaks and bring them to that designated space to eliminate the confusion and help them remember that designated area is for pooping.
5. Stay Calm When Accidents Happen
Occasionally, while you’re still training your dog, you might get indoor accidents in the middle of the night. Stay calm and do not scold them.
Anger only makes things worse, because your dog doesn’t understand why you’re angry.
They only know that they get your attention when pooping indoors and therefore, they are more likely to repeat the same action to get your attention even though the action is the negative one.
When an accident happens, don’t throw out the waste immediately, but instead put it out in the designated spot that you have created in your yard and bring your dog there and have them inspect it.
This way, they learn where you want it to be the next time they poop.
6. Clean The Area Immediately
You want to clean the area where the accident happened immediately. Dogs remember by scent. If you don’t clean the area thoroughly, they will more likely want to return to that same area to poop due to the familiar scent of that area.
7. Bring Your Dog to The Vet
If you suspect that the cause of your dog’s pooping problems is medical reasons, then bring your dog to a vet immediately.
What Are Dog Potty Pads Used For?
Dog potty pads are useful for several conditions, for example, if you don’t have a backyard, or if your dog has certain medical conditions, or at the beginning of housetraining.
If you live in an apartment or you don’t have yard space, you can train your dog to poop and pee on potty pads instead.
Potty pads are also best for dogs that have certain medical conditions such as hip dysplasia or arthritis.
When you’re just housetraining your dog, it might take a while before your dog goes pooping outside. Potty pads are useful to control where they poop inside, so your dog’s poop is not scattered all over the place.
Furthermore, potty pads can come in handy when it’s windy or rainy outside, or during winter. For this reason, many dog owners train their dogs to be able to relieve themselves both indoors and outdoors.
Training your dog to use potty pads is far more easy than training your dog to poo outdoors. Many potty pads have a unique scent designed to attract dogs. When dogs smell this scent, they will naturally be attracted to step into the pads.
See also our review of the best dog pee pads.
How to Re-HouseTrain a Dog with Anxiety
Your dog can get stressed because of several things: they may just move to your house, or they may feel lonely when you leave them alone in the house in the middle of the night.
The following are the steps that you can take to reduce their anxiety:
- Don’t make a big deal if you have to leave the house at night.
- Put your dog in a room with windows with lots of toys to play with.
- Leave some recently worn clothes. Your clothes’ smell has a soothing effect that can calm their nervousness.
- Talk to your vet if you have to and ask her about aids or drugs that can calm your dog’s anxiety.
- When an accident happens, stay calm and review all the basic housetraining steps that we have discussed previously.
- Make sure to try all the steps listed above.
How to House Train A Dog with Crate
If you are one of those dog owners who prefer to place their dogs in a crate at night, the following steps may help you:
- The crate where your dog will sleep should be big enough for them to lay down comfortably, have soft bedding, and a lot of toys.
- Feed your dog dinner two or three hours before bedtime.
- One hour after dinner, let your dog outside for a potty break.
- Let your dog outside once again before bedtime.
- If your dog poops during potty breaks, reward them with a treat and take them for a walk.
How to House Train A Dog with Tether
If you prefer to move your dog to sleep in your room, here are the steps to train them:
- Feed your dog dinner two or three hours before bedtime.
- Take your dog outside for potty breaks one hour after dinner and 30 minutes before bedtime. Wait for your dog to poop, if they do reward and praise them.
- In the first few weeks, tether your dog to your waist or belt using a short dog leash. It may be uncomfortable for you, but it helps you to notice if they are going to poop in the middle of the night.
- If your dog looks like they are about to poop in the middle of the night, bring them immediately to the bathroom spot that you have prepared in the yard.
- After one or two weeks, once they understand that they are not allowed to poop inside, you can re-tether your dog to door jambs.
If you prefer the tether method, check out my recommendation for the best dog leash here.
How to Train Your Older Dog to Not Poop in The House
If the cause of your senior dog poops in the house is the behavioral ones, you may want to re-housetrain your dog again (refer to the basics of housetraining steps explained above).
But if the cause is the medical ones or because of old age, then there is not much that you can do. In this case, it’s better to let your dog poop indoors on potty pads.
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