Why Your Dog Will Not Poop Outside, and How to Solve It

Your dog may not poop outside because it’s:

  • Too young to be fully trained
  • Experiencing health issues such as incontinence
  • Never been trained to go outside (more likely with a rescue dog)
  • You are missing the signs they need to poop
  • Nervous of pooping outside
  • Repeatedly marking territory indoors
  • Not in a proper routine for doing so

Most dogs are house trained and able to go outside when it’s time to go for a wee or a poop. So, it’s frustrating to find you’re clearing up after your pooch inside your home instead.

I’ve extensively researched this topic to see how to approach the problem. There is a lot of info here for you if you’re experiencing this issue with your pooch. The good news is there are answers – and they’re all in this article for you.

I’ve got a five-year-old Bichon Frise called Freya, and I’ve trained her since she was about nine weeks old. It had its moments, for sure!

But I resolved the issues we had, so I’ll share that experience with you here as well.


Their Age May Cause Them Not to Poop Outside

This can happen to all ages of dogs:

  • Puppies need consistent training to ensure pooping outside is a regular habit
  • Older dogs might have bladder issues and cannot get outside fast enough to go anymore
  • Rescue dogs of any age may not have been trained to go outside

If you do have a rescue pooch, find out as much about its background as you can. If you know it wasn’t house trained, you know this is where to start.


It May Be Due to Physical or Mental Reasons

For example, a rescue pooch might be nervous at being somewhere new. It may not be 100% certain where it should go to the toilet. Anxiety affects dogs just as it can affect you and I, so bear this in mind.

Incidentally, anxiety can occur with any age of dog. If you’ve moved recently, this could be anxiety-inducing. Your pooch won’t be sure of where to go. Spend time with them in a good spot in the yard to make sure your pet is happy to go there.

Puppies may not be old enough to properly control their bladder or bowels yet. Even with regular trips outside, there are going to be accidents. Over time, they’ll improve.

Maybe you have an older dog that has always gone outside to poop with no issues. Yet you now find they are having accidents indoors. In this case, where the behavior is new and not down to lack of training (or not enough training), a trip to your veterinarian would be the best course of action.

Your vet can see whether your dog is in good health and if they need treatment. Your vet can also provide advice on how to proceed, depending on the results of any tests that are run.


They May Not Be Trained to Do It

This applies to puppies and non-trained rescue dogs. It may take longer to train a dog that has previously been allowed to poop wherever it wishes.

One way to minimize the chances of accidents in the house is to feed your pooch on a regular schedule. When Freya was little, I fed her three times a day. After she’d eaten, she went into the garden. She often did her business after breakfast and after dinner, but not after her lunchtime meal. That was her routine.

She didn’t poop to start with – not consistently outside, anyway. However, I persevered and whenever she did go outside, I gave her lots of praise. She loves praise! Eventually, she would go out without being taken out – she’d just ask to go out and she got on with it.

If you free feed your dog, allowing it to eat whenever it wants to, toilet training is going to be much tougher. Stick to regular mealtimes to make the pooping more regular too!


You May be Missing Signs of Potential Pooping!

You may find that your dog is not pooping outside because you are missing the signs that your pooch wants to go.

My dog Freya starts sniffing and going around in lazy circles. Then, the circles get tighter and faster – she’s looking for a good spot.

When I learned to watch for those signs, I knew she was getting ready. I then took her outside as soon as she was ready, so she naturally started going more often outside. When she did it I gave her lots of praise, which she loved, and so was more likely to go outside next time too.

The signs are quite similar between different dogs and breeds. Watch for them – it helps enormously.

If you don’t see any signs, make sure you take your pooch outside when they’ve:

  • Eaten a meal
  • Woken up from a snooze
  • Had a drink
  • Had a play session (it gets them going!)
  • About to go to bed

It takes effort – I remember how long it took until we had no accidents in the house. Freya eventually always went in the yard because she realized it was easy, and she had her preferred spot to go in.

If you go out and nothing happens after 30 minutes or so, go back in. But don’t let your dog out of your sight. Try again in a few minutes, or whenever you spot signs that it’s going to go. Then be ready to take your pooch back out again.


Your Dog Might Connect Pooping with Punishment

Don’t punish your pooch if they toilet indoors. Ignore them and clean up the mess. Only give your dog praise when they go outdoors where you want them to.

Dogs forget stuff like this quickly. So, if your dog pooped indoors and you didn’t find it until, say, a half hour later, your dog wouldn’t associate any punishment with that act anyway.

Ignore bad behavior, but look for ways you can reduce and remove it. Don’t leave your dog to its own devices for ages, for example. Keep an eye on it. This automatically reduces the chances of accidents and increases the chances your dog will poop in the garden. They won’t get the chance to poop indoors.

When Freya was little, she was always within sight of one of us (important for puppies who get into everything anyway). Regular trips to the yard – even when many were unsuccessful – eventually did the trick.


Dogs Like to Poop Where They Did It Last Time

Dogs like to mark their territory. If your dog has been regularly pooping indoors, the smell will still be there. You may not notice it, but your dog will.

Make sure you buy an antibacterial and odor-removing spray specifically designed for dog accidents. It removes everything your dog can smell, thereby removing the desire to go there again. It works using enzymes to do the trick.


They May Not Have a Trigger Word to Poop Outside

Dogs are smart. When you train your pooch, you’ll train it using various words and commands. Sit! Stay! You get the idea.

You can do the same for pooping outside too. Decide on something to associate with going outside and pooping. It could be something like:

  • Go poop
  • Freya go poop outside
  • Go potty

Use it whenever you go outside with your dog, so it learns what the trip is for. Just as your dog might associate the word ‘sit’ with sitting and ‘down’ with lay down, it can associate the phrase ‘go poop’ with that behavior too.

Remember, whatever you use, consistency is key.


Your Yard May Not Be Attractive to Them

I’m not talking about planters and flowers. I’m talking about creating an attractive spot for your dog to visit each time it needs to eliminate.

I have a patch of grass separate from the lawn that is nearer to the house. This is where Freya goes. So, if the weather is bad, she can still nip out and go without getting too wet or cold.

If it is bad, I might put a waterproof coat on her for a bit, and she’ll go out in that instead. I also have a towel ready for when she comes back in. (That towel inspires her to do her business too, as she loves being toweled down!)

When I had trouble with Freya going outside early on, I invited a friend over with her dog. He happily went outside and did his business while everyone was socializing.

And surprise, surprise, that enticed Freya to go there too.

Another trick some people on forums have suggested is to collect some poop from an indoor accident and place it outside where you would like your dog to go. Dogs use scent and will often do it in the same spot.

You might know that if your dog revisits the same rug or area of carpet to have a poop right now…

By moving the poop outside and taking your dog to it, it can break the indoor habit and get the yard-based habit going.


A Good Routine Helps

Formulating a routine for poop time is important, as you can see from everything that I’ve laid out so far. If you stick to this routine, rewarding your dog when everything goes right, you’ll both get there in the end.

It takes effort and time to make sure your dog always poops outside. There is no doubt that rewarding the right behavior with treats or a huge fuss is a great way to reinforce that behavior for the future.


Writer: Allison Whitehead

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