As dog owners, we quickly pick up on any changes in their behavior. This is especially true when something comes about all of a sudden or seems to be entirely out of the norm. Pooping in the house at night is one such example; but what does it mean, why does it happen and what can we do about it? Here is what you need to know.
So, why has my dog started pooping in the house at night? The most common reasons why a dog may start pooping in the house at night are in response to a change in diet, their schedule, or as part of the development of a medical issue. However, reasons can range from dog to dog and depends on their age, personality, and how often you have had them.
Some of the reasons for the night-time elimination can be reversed, some can be contained, and others will just have to be accepted.
At the end of the day, it will come down to the underlying cause.
Just remember, none of the reasons are your dog’s fault nor are they your dog’s desire to offend and upset you.
So as hard as it may be, especially when we have a lot on our plates or that we may accidentally stand in some; we must do our best to stay composed and not to shout at our dog.
Besides, it’s already happened and there is little you can do about it there and then.
Let us now take a closer look at the main reasons why a dog may begin to poop during those sleeping hours, along with how you should approach the situation.
Be sure to keep reading if you want to know whether and how you can put a stop to this unfortunate recurring circumstance. It’s in your and your dog’s interest!
Reasons For Pooping Inside During The Middle Of The Night
There are six main reasons why your dog may have started pooping inside your house during the middle of the night.
Diet & Meal Timing
The food your dog eats, and when, plays a significant role in when, where and how much comes out the other end.
Certain foods are known to stimulate more frequent bowel movements in dogs.
These include high-fiber foods like sweet potatoes, brown rice, fruits (especially pears and apples), vegetables, and whole grains.
So, if they are new to the diet, be sure to introduce them gradually to prevent digestive upset, or reduce intake altogether.
At the same time, be mindful of fatty foods, or fatty cuts of meat.
Fatty foods can indeed increase the frequency and volume of a dog’s stool because fats are harder for dogs to digest.
Overconsumption can lead to diarrhea, which could be why your dog needs to go inside during the middle of the night.
Confused on what to feed your dog? In that case, consult your vet for personalized advice.
Not Fully Trained
You may think that your dog has been house trained if they have gone a week or two without any accidents, but really you need to go about a month without any accidents before you can claim your dog is fully house trained.
Now, this is obviously more common in puppies, but it can also happen in elder dogs whom have been adopted.
Equally, if you have made drastic changes to their environment, moved homes or relocated, re-training may be required!
Not Enough Breaks Through the Day
If your dog hasn’t had any or enough opportunities to go outside and poop throughout the day, they will likely hold it in.
This means that in the middle of the night, they are unable to hold it anymore and have to relieve themselves.
Anxiety and Stress
Dogs who suffer from anxiety and stress may not be able to control their bowels and will struggle not to go during the night.
You may find this is a problem if you have a rescue dog, until they become comfortable in your home and with you and your family.
Once the cause of the stress and anxiety are addressed generally the issue of pooping at night goes away.
There are several medical issues that could cause your dog to go during this time.
The main conditions to be aware of, especially in aging dogs, include:
- Viral infections
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Kidney disease
- Bladder stones
- Bowel cancer
In these cases, you will need to see your veterinarian and follow their recommendations, with each case having their own outcome.
As dogs age they develop issues like incontinence and joint pain, making it hard for them to walk far. Many dogs end up using the bathroom wherever they are.
Why Does My Dog Need To Poop In The Middle Of The Night?
There could be different reasons that your dog needs to poop specifically during the middle of the night, as we have outlined above.
If you are confident that your dog doesn’t have any medical issues and have ruled out those other factors, then the first place to look and usual culprit is to do with food.
Food plays a large role in many different aspects of your dogs mood, behavior, health and well-being and it must always be considered and prioritized .
Are you feeding your dog the right food? Have you recently switched foods?
If you have switched foods recently, did you do it slowly so that they could get used to it? What time do you feed your dog their last meal of the day?
Depending on the answers to these questions, they could all be causes for your dog needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, especially if they are not taken out one last time to go.
Should I Take My Dog Out In The Middle Of The Night?
For the first few weeks of getting a puppy you may need to get up in the middle of the night to take your puppy out, unless you know that you’re going to wake up to a mess and don’t mind cleaning it up. Once your puppy is old enough to regularly hold their bowel and bladder overnight, you shouldn’t have to take them out.
However, always make sure that you let them out one last time just before you head to bed.
This will give you the best chance possible to make it through the night. Equally, it helps to set a schedule, which is very important for when you want your dog to go.
When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you should do is let your dog out to go to the toilet.
Don’t be surprised if they only pee at first; they may not be ready to poop until they have eaten.
This is okay and to be somewhat expected. Its also okay – at least you have given them the opportunity to go and prevented any indoor accidents.
Just be sure to let them out once they have eaten their breakfast, unless of course you intend on going for a walk, or otherwise they may catch you off guard!
How Do I Stop My Dog From Pooping In The House At Night?
You can stop a dog from pooping in the house at night by considering feeding times/diet, with sufficient toilet breaks during the day, praising them when they go outside, reducing anxiety/stress and resolving any ongoing medical issues which may result in a weaker bladder.
Consider Feeding Times & Diet
First and foremost, consider when you are feeding your dog and what you are feeding them.
Ensure they are on a kibble or dry food that agrees with them, and be mindful of the quantity of treats, or any titbits that are just not that suitable for dogs.
It could be that pooping in the house at night is the consequence of something they are eating.
In regards to meal timing, you may want to offer dinner at an earlier time, and see if this brings their toilet forward.
Sufficient Daily Bathroom Breaks
One of the best things we can do is to ensure our dog is going to the bathroom regularly during the day.
Better still, is to ensure we take them out just before we plan on going up to bed.
Practically speaking, if you leave your dog home all day while you’re at work, maybe you should think about getting someone to visit your home around lunchtime to let your dog out.
If this really isn’t possible, you could consider getting an indoor lawn for your dog to go in the house.
DoggieLawn is the product to get if this sounds like something you want to do!
Give Your Dog A Place ‘To Go’ Inside
Make you and your dog’s life considerably easier by getting an indoor dog lawn.
It sets up, and can be cleaned, in minutes.
It’s odor minimizing, cost-effective and enables your dog to go whenever they need to.
Praise When They Go Outside
The best way we can promote a desired behavior’s in dogs is with positive reinforcement.
In this specific context, we want to praise our dogs with treats when they do go outside, letting them know that that’s what we want from them.
Ultimately, the key to training is consistency and schedule.
Go at the same times, and make the experience of going for your dog as relaxing and comfortable as possible.
This can be the most difficult, and perhaps longest to break, out of all the ones on the list.
The first thing is to figure out what the cause of the stress or anxiety, and there could be more than one thing.
Once you know what the main issue is, you can go about working on eliminating those, which could take no time at all, or may take a long time. After that the nighttime pooping should stop.
You also might want to have your dog sleep in the same room as you. This way, they can see you and know that you are nearby.
Just having the comfort and security of knowing that you are there could help solve the problem.
Remedy Medical Issues
Depending on what medical issue your dog has a brief course of antibiotics might be all you need to take care of the problem.
It might be a permanent issue, but you can always buy doggie diapers to at least prevent the issue from occurring throughout the house.
Speak with your veterinarian for recommendations.
In the case of older dogs, or dogs that just can’t hold it throughout the night, you could consider using doggie diapers.
The simple solution diapers are some of the best on the market; being affordable, disposable and available in a number of different sizes for different breeds.
You can get them on Amazon for a great price.
Otherwise, you can look to contain your dog in one area overnight to limit where they go.
This could be by closing a door, or keeping them in a certain room through the use of baby gates.
When it comes to your dog starting to poop in the house at night it’s hard not to overreact or get frustrated.
The first thing to remember is not to panic.
If your dog is showing any other symptoms that seem to be off, then you should contact your veterinarian right away. If they are not, then start troubleshooting to see what the issue could be.
While there are several potential causes and reasons, the most common include: a lack of sufficient training, not enough breaks outside, anxiety/stress, a medical condition, aging and an inappropriate food or change of diet.
One thing that you need to remember is not to lose your cool with your dog when they do have accidents at night, because that’s what they are, accidents.
None of the reasons for it occurring in the first place is your dog’s fault.
In most cases, there are solutions for getting your dog to stop pooping at night in the house.
And, where there isn’t a solution or possibility of fixing the issue, there are solutions to make it easier and more manageable.
All we want as dog owners are for our pets to be happy and healthy.
If they are pooping in the middle of the night then something is clearly wrong, or they are not settled in some way.
We owe it to our dogs and our families to do all we can to address the underlying issue; whatever that may be.
And at least they aren’t eating it!
What Do You Do If Your Dog Poops In The House?
There is little you can do once your dog has pooped in your house, outside of cleaning the poop up imminently. From there, you need to begin proactively training your dog not to do this in the future. To do so, you should teach your dog a ‘poop’ command by whispering this command when they go to the toilet.
- Dog Throwing Up Only In Middle Of Night
- Where Should My Dog Sleep At Night Time?
- How To Keep A Dog Warm At Night
- Should I Let My Dog Roam The House At Night?
- Do Dogs Get Cold At Night?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.