7 Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Poop Outside (and Solutions)

As a dog owner, you may have come across this problem. You take your best friend out to the backyard, and then five minutes later, they’re still sniffing around aimlessly, but no poop in sight!

You’re starting to wonder what’s wrong with your dog. Why won’t they poop outside?! If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – you’re not alone!

why won't my dog poop outside

Here’s The Short Answer To Why Your Dog Won’t Poop Outside:

Some of the reasons why your dog won’t poop outside can include behavioral issues like holding onto old habits, your dog’s sensitivity to the cold, or incomplete house training.

However, if you observe that your dog is suffering from significant behavioral changes accompanied by worrisome symptoms, then it might be time to check in with your vet about an underlying medical condition.

Common Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Poop Outside:

Here are those reasons in more detail.

1. There May Be Something Wrong With Your Training Method

When it comes to house training problems, I can guarantee that nine out of ten times, the problem has something to do with the owner’s training method. In most cases, what I often see is the owner doesn’t set the dog up for success. This is especially true if your dog is still puppies and just figuring out their full house training routine.

Too many owners are inconsistent with their dog’s feeding schedules. Without a set schedule, it becomes much more difficult for young puppies, who still can’t control their bowel movements properly, to figure out when they’ll need to go.

House training starts by creating a schedule for your pup and sticking to it every single day. This schedule entails giving your dog their meals at the same time every day.

When your dog is fed on a predictable schedule, their bowel will start to follow suit, and their poops may come out predictably at the same time as well. This will give you a better clue of when you should take your dog outside to relieve themselves.

2. Your Dog Needs To Find That Perfect Spot

This reason is more likely to be true if you’ve just moved into a new home.

In a canine world, leaving a scent trail is a very important part of communication and marking their territory. The common way for dogs to mark their territory is by peeing on the spot as a way of saying, ‘hey, I was here!’ However, your dog can also mark their territory by leaving their sweet-scented poop.

When you take your dog outside to do their business, and they don’t relieve themselves right away but instead spend time sniffing around, this probably means that your dog is still searching for that perfect spot.

Once your dog finds the potential spot to take a dump, their job doesn’t stop there. They will prepare to poop by sniffing the area, crushing some leaves, and leveling the surrounding surface.

They instinctually do this so that the scent of their poops will reach far and wide to other animals in the area.

3. Your Dog Is Nervous

Just like we need a quiet and private place to relieve ourselves, so do dogs. You may find that your dog doesn’t poop outside because they’re too scared of their surroundings or something else that’s happening nearby.

For example, if there’s another new scary dog in the neighborhood or a loud noise from a construction site nearby, they may feel uncomfortable and either try to hold their poops in or run back inside.

The difficulty with this is that there’s no way to know what may be scaring your dog or causing them anxiety as your dog can’t tell you what’s wrong.

This can make it hard to pinpoint the root cause of the nervousness and come up with a solution. The only thing you can do is observe your pup’s behavior and surroundings before while you take them outside to poop.

If you notice your dog acting skittish or fearful in certain areas, take them somewhere else where their pooping routine can continue at its normal pace.

4. You Have Inadvertently Trained Your Dog To Poop Inside

If your working hours keep you away from home for long periods of time, you may rely on pee pads or litter boxes to keep your dog from soiling the house while you’re away.

However, by doing this, you may have inadvertently trained your dog that going potty inside the house is okay.

This problem can be fixed, but it’s going to take some time and effort on your part. You’re going to need to keep a closer eye on your dog during these times of day when you know they need to relieve themselves.

If you catch them trying to poop inside, take them outside immediately! You should bring some treats to reward them for finishing their business outside. The main problem with this is that it can be very difficult to catch your dog during the day while you’re at work.

If this is your problem, consider hiring a pet sitter or enrolling your dog in doggy daycare. With the right support in a doggy daycare, not only will your dog have a chance to practice proper elimination habits, but they will also enjoy the socialization that comes with it.

5. Your Dog Is Still Sticking To Their Old Ways

If you’ve just recently adopted your dog, your dog may still be holding on to some of their old behaviors.

Before the adoption, they probably had a routine for going potty on certain surfaces. For example, the shelter from which you adopted your dog may have had a designated surface for soilings, such as paper or dirt.

If your yard doesn’t have the same surface, they may not be comfortable using it as their bathroom. In this case, you can try providing your dog with the same surface they’re used to and put it on the grass to see if your dog will get on board.

After a week or two, you can slowly wean them off the old surface and onto the grass. Keep in mind that dogs are not good with too many changes, so be patient with your dog throughout this process, as it can be challenging for your dog to adjust during the first few weeks of adoption.

6. It’s Too Cold for Your Dog To Go Outside

When it comes to weather, different dog breeds have different tolerance levels to the cold. If you have a particularly sensitive breed such as a Yorkshire Terrier or Shih Tzu, you may find that they’re reluctant to go outside in the cold, let alone poop outside.

If the weather is not too bad, you can try to put some boots on them or coat them up in a dog raincoat for a quick run outside to finish their business. If it is snowing, don’t forget to clear their regular potty area so that they can find it easily.

7. There’s an Underlying Medical Condition

If previously your dog has been accustomed to going out and out of nowhere they begin refusing to poop outside, there could be an underlying medical condition affecting your dog.

Certain medical conditions like constipation, anal glands problems, or even intestinal disorders can cause your dog to hold in their poop.

Before rushing them to the vet for this problem, you should take note of how drastic the change in behavior is and what symptoms your dog is exhibiting. If their behaviors have changed significantly, accompanied by worrisome symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, or loss of appetite, then it’s time to take them to the vet.

Tips Get Your Dog to Poop Outside

Here are some tips that you can use to deal with your dog’s refusal to poop outside:

1. Increase Your Dog’s Walk Frequency

It’s believed that walking stimulates bowel movements in dogs. In fact, veterinarians often recommend dog owners to take their dogs for walks as the first course of action to treat constipation in dogs.

By increasing the frequency of their walks after meals, you will not only encourage your dog to poop, but you will also help meet their daily exercise requirement.

2. Keep Track Of Your Dog’s Schedule

If you’re still in the process of potty training your dog, it’s important that you keep track of their feeding and potty schedule so that you can get them out at times when you’re pretty sure they need to go.

I usually just use a pen and paper to keep track of their schedule, but you can also use an app for convenience.

3. Train Your Dog To Potty On Command

Training your dog to poop on command (like “go potty”) can be useful on a number of occasions, not only just when they are in the backyard. For example, when you travel to an unfamiliar location, you can use the command to hint them where they should go.

4. Make Your Backyard More Appealing

As I’ve mentioned before, certain dog breeds are not able to tolerate cold weather. If your dog is one of them, you can try creating a covered area in your backyard where they can relieve themselves without getting drenched from the rain or snow.

5. Rule Out Any Possible Medical Conditions

The difficulty of pooping may indicate an onset of an underlying medical condition. This is even more likely if your dog is straining or moaning when trying to poop.

If you notice that your dog is struggling every time they have to poop, take them to the vet immediately for a checkup.

6. Clean up accidents promptly

When there is an accident inside the house, you should clean up the mess immediately and use an enzymatic cleaner to clean the areafrom any lingering poop smell; otherwise, they will feel compelled to pee or poop again inside rather than outside.

7. Reinforce Successful Potty Session With Rewards

If your dog is successfully able to poop outside, make sure you reinforce this behavior by giving them treats or petting them.

You can also use praise words like “good boy” or “good job,” etc., which will help them associate pooping with a positive experience, which in turn will increase the chance that they will repeat the same behavior in the future.

Related Questions

1. Why Does My Dog Poop On My Bed?

Dogs pooping on beds and other places where their owners sleep, in most cases, is an attempt to mark the area as their territory.

While this behavior can be bothersome to most pet owners, it is not considered a state of emergency for your dog. If you are worried about their sudden urge to poop on your bed, enforcing proper house training is the key to preventing this issue.

2. Why Does My Dog Poop In The Car?

For the same reason as the bed, most dogs consider their car as part of their territory.

You can prevent your dog from pooping in the car by enforcing proper house training and creating a more appealing area for them to poop. This could be your backyard or another designated spot which you have already established as the go-to place for them to relieve themselves.