Dogs and puppies, of any age or breed, can surprise even the most experienced and savvy owners with their behavior—the things they do and, even more maddening sometimes, the things they don’t (or refuse to) do.
Believe it or not, there are some members of the domesticated canine species that happily urinate outdoors once they are let outside, yet they completely forget their potty manners when it comes to going number two, choosing instead to pollute your home with the rank byproduct of their gastrointestinal systems.
As a dog owner, this can be very frustrating at best and absolutely infuriating at worst, forcing you to seek out, pick up and clean their poop from your home every time they have one of these digestive mishaps.
To help you solve this unfortunate dilemma, in this article we will highlight and explain the many reasons why your dog may refuse to poop outside.
And for each of these reasons, we will offer one or more tips for removing the physical, mental and emotional barriers that lead to potty accidents—tips aimed at teaching your four-legged friend to do his business outdoors instead of in your home.
Reasons Your Dog May Not Poop Outside—and How to Combat Those Reasons
Whether you have a puppy, a young adult dog or one reaching his twilight years, occasional poop accidents in the house can be totally normal.
But what if this dog completely refuses to poop outside?
What are the potential reasons for this? Here we have outlined some possible causes.
They Were Never Properly Trained to Poop Outside
Although we would like the circumstances to be different, sadly, dogs do not inherently know that they are supposed to do their business outside.
They are simply not born understanding this information.
Like any other skill, pooping outside is a learned behavior that has to be taught.
If you have a young puppy that has just recently joined your family, it is up to you, the owner of that pup, to teach him the rules of the road.
Puppies are very attentive to what we do, and when they see us poop inside, our young dogs just assume that is way things are done, and they will tend to follow our lead.
The same is true for rescue dogs.
You cannot assume that a prior owner has taught the dog proper habits when it comes to housetraining.
In some cases, your rescue dog will need to unlearn all of his bad habits, and you will need to replace this bad information with good habits.
So just how do you housetrain a dog to go poop outside?
Well, for every qualified dog trainer to whom you pose this question, you are liable to get a different answer.
However, there are some tried and true tips that you can employ today.
First, you need to get a handle on your dog’s usual pooping schedule.
Dogs can develop habits as to “when” they poop, and once you understand this timing a little better, you can usually get them outside when the time is right.
If, after several minutes, your dog does not go poop, bring him back inside and immediately crate him.
To use this training method you will need to purchase a crate that is the proper size for your dog.
If you allow a dog to come inside and play after refusing to go, you may actually reinforce bad habits.
Instead, you should crate him for about 30 minutes after you bring him back inside, and then take him back outside for 5-10 minutes to go poop.
If he goes potty, allow him to come in the house and roam freely, but if he doesn’t, you should repeat the process until he goes.
With this method, you teach your dog that his mobility will be restricted if he refuses to do his business outside—and you prevent accidents at the same time.
Soon, your dog will make this important correlation between pooping and inside freedom, and the behavior will be reinforced.
Wet and Cold Conditions
When it is wet, snowy or cold outdoors, pooping outside is definitely no walk in the park (pardon the pun).
Just as we like to stay inside and hunker down when the weather conditions are inclement, so too does your four-legged companion—of any age.
In fact, some dogs so dislike cold and rainy weather, that they will intentionally poop indoors just to avoid the morning ritual of going outside.
This is how intelligent some dogs can be.
In the next paragraph we have outlined some tips for ensuring your dog poops outside when the weather is bad.
So how do you combat bad weather reluctance?
If rain is the culprit, the first thing you need to do is get your puppy accustomed to wet conditions.
Put on a raincoat and some boots the next time it rains and take your puppy for a walk, all the while praising him, especially when he goes poop.
This should help him realize the rain is not his enemy, but rather an opportunity to be praised.
With light to moderate snow, you can use the same steps.
And after it snows, make sure to clear an area in the yard, preferably the spot where you dog has become accustomed to pooping.
This will make him more comfortable and he will be more apt to comply.
Outside Time Is Playtime
Your dog has finished his morning meal, and you proceed to take him outside to do his business—a ritual that millions of dog owners do every single morning.
However, instead of focusing on going number two, your dog gets distracted by a bird or a squirrel in the trees, goes to the fence to have a dog-on-dog conversation with the neighbor’s pet, or perhaps tries to goad you into a game of fetch.
Instead of focusing on “your” goal to have him go poop, he decides this is playtime.
This is a scenario we have heard thousands of times, and there is a good reason for it.
If you have a dog that primarily remains in the home all day while you go to work, that brief trip outdoors in the morning—the one you dread—may actually be the highlight of your dog’s entire day.
Like us, dogs crave excitement and change.
They like their time outdoors, and they will come to realize that they can extend this outside time just by refusing to go poop.
Sure, they may feel the urge to go number two, but from experience they know once they do it, their outdoor time will come to an abrupt end.
So instead they hold it, milking every possible minute and second just to run and play.
Naturally, you assume that your dog just doesn’t have to go, so you eventually bring him back inside and proceed to head off to work.
Little do you know that, just seconds later, your dog proceeds to do his business indoors.
If your dog views outside poop time as playtime, there are a couple of things you can do to alter this perception.
First, you need to make time for outdoor play outside of the normal “poop time.”
Allow your dog some time to explore his surroundings.
Play fetch with him and take him on walks.
With these types of fresh-air opportunities, your dog will have no good reason to stall in the mornings.
If your dog still wants to run and play in the mornings rather than poop, you may need to break out the leash for a while.
Physically take him outside and right to the spot on which he typically poops.
Do not allow any physical freedom on these trips.
After a week or two of these on-leash experiences, your dog will probably get with the program on his own.
Your Dog Has Marked His Territory—Indoors
For those owners who have been unable, for an extended period of time, to get their dogs to poop outdoors, getting that dog to change his habits can be a much tougher sell.
Dogs have what are known as anal scent glands.
Every time a dog defecates, these glands are activated, and a special scent that is unique to that dog is released.
This is why dogs tend to poop on or near the same spot all the time, even after the poop has been picked up.
This “marking of territory” can be done by dogs of all ages and breeds, and once that territory is marked indoors, it can be very difficult to get that dog to poop outside.
There are, however, things you can do.
First, you will need to pick up a special “enzymatic cleaner.”
These solutions, which are available at most pet store outlets, not only clean and disinfect the indoor spot on which the dog pooped, they also remove the scent produced by the anal scent glands.
Once these scents are cleaned and cleared from your home, you can begin employing any and all of the methods explained above for outdoor potty training.
Old Age and Medical Conditions
When dogs get very old, they can suffer the same kind of mental decline as we humans often face.
Conditions such as strokes and dementia can severely damage and alter your dog’s memory and brain functioning, often making him forget his training and the skills he once knew.
Also, parasitic conditions, such as pinworms and hookworms, which tend to plague puppies especially, can cause things like diarrhea and urgent pooping, resulting in indoor accidents.
In younger dogs, stopping the indoor accidents from occurring is usually as simple as treating the underlying condition.
However, with older dogs that are in mental decline, solutions are much more difficult to come by.
For these dogs, more frequent trips outside and more indoor supervision are the only real solutions for preventing accidents.