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How To Punish A Dog For Pooping In the House (Spoiler: You Don't!) - PawSafe
Dog Training

How To Punish A Dog For Pooping In the House (Spoiler: You Don’t!)

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to punish a dog for pooping in the house

If you’re wondering how to punish a dog for pooping in the house, you’ve come to the right place. Punishment is a hot topic in the dog world, and many of us grew up with old-school methods like hitting a dog with a rolled-up newspaper or pushing a dog’s nose in their mess. 

First, if you have a dog pooping or peeing in the house, it is vital to ensure you have a canine odor cleanser on hand. Secondly, it’s vital to look at your dog’s training and whether your dog has any health issues causing incontinence or severe diarrhea (like pooping clear liquid). 

If your dog is pooping in the house at night, you also want to see our article on locking a puppy in a crate at night. To help us more with this topic, we will refer to Karen Davison’s Complete Guide To House Training Puppies And Dogs.

So to be clear, if you see your dog or puppy pooping, you can correct them by saying “no” and taking them outside immediately. Anything more than that is going to cause issues. We will discuss the appropriate way to deal with pooping indoors below.

Instead of punishing a dog, it’s important to focus on positive reinforcement training and to look for any underlying causes that may be causing your dog to lose control of their bowels. 

Reward your dog with treats, praise, and affection when they go potty outside. This will reinforce good behavior and encourage them to continue going outside. If your dog does have an accident inside, it’s important to clean it up thoroughly to remove any scent that might encourage them to go to the same spot again.

Additionally, it’s important to consider whether the dog has been properly trained to go outside and if they are being given enough opportunities to go outside throughout the day. If the dog is not getting enough opportunities to go outside or is not properly trained, it may have accidents inside. In this case, it’s important to work on their training and ensure they have regular opportunities to go outside.

What are the dangers of punishing your dog for pooping in the house?

If you are googling, “My dog poops and pees in the house, what is the appropriate punishment?” Then know that research shows that punishment is not good for dogs.

Punishing a dog has several negative effects that can have long-lasting impacts on their behavior and well-being. These include:

Fear and Anxiety: Punishing a dog can cause them to become fearful and anxious. This can lead to many unwanted behaviors, such as cowering, hiding, or growling.

Aggression: Dogs that are punished may become aggressive towards their owners or other people. This can be a result of feeling threatened or as a way to protect themselves.

Avoidance Behavior: Punished dogs may begin to avoid certain situations or people, which can make it difficult to train them or live a normal life.

Damage to the Relationship: Punishing a dog can damage the relationship between the dog and their owner. This can make it more difficult to train the dog and can lead to other negative behaviors.

Reinforcement of Negative Behavior: Punishing a dog can reinforce negative behaviors rather than stop them. For example, if a dog is punished for barking, they may continue to bark as a way to get attention.

Now, before we get to how to deal with a dog pooping in the house, we need to identify why the dog may be pooping in the house in the first place:

Why is my dog pooping in the house? 6 Reasons

There are several reasons why a dog may poop in the house, including:

  1. Lack of Proper House Training: A dog that has not been adequately trained to go potty outside may not understand that going inside the house is not appropriate.
  2. Medical Issues: If a dog is experiencing medical issues, such as diarrhea or an upset stomach, they may not be able to hold their bowel movements and may have accidents inside the house. Spinal issues and a number of severe conditions also cause fecal incontinence. Some dog breeds like Corgis may develop physical problems like a perineal hernia that causes fecal incontinence too.
  3. Anxiety and Stress: A dog that is experiencing anxiety or stress may have accidents inside the house. This could be due to separation anxiety when left alone, fear of loud noises, or changes in the environment or routine.
  4. Marking Territory: Some dogs may mark their territory by pooping inside the house, particularly if they feel their space is being invaded by another pet or person.
  5. Age-Related Incontinence: As dogs age, they may develop incontinence, which can lead to accidents in the house.
  6. Lack of Access to Outside: If a dog is not given enough opportunities to go outside, they may have accidents inside the house. This is often the case at night if a dog tries to wake you up to go outside but fails. If they can’t hold it anymore, they will poop indoors.

It’s important to identify the underlying cause of your dog’s behavior before attempting to correct it. Punishing your dog for pooping in the house may make the problem worse, particularly if the behavior is caused by anxiety or stress. It’s best to work with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer to address any underlying medical or behavioral issues and develop a plan to help your dog learn appropriate potty habits.

How do you stop a dog pooping in the house?

Stopping a dog from pooping in the house requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Here are some steps you can take to address this behavior:

1. Check your dog for a health issue if the pooping indoors starts suddenly.

Dogs with spinal injuries or old dogs losing control of their bowels may need to wear doggy diapers.

2. Address Behavioral Issues such as separation anxiety

3. Establish a routine

Dogs thrive on routine, so establishing a regular feeding and potty schedule can help prevent accidents in the house. Take your dog outside first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime. Praise and reward your dog when they go potty outside.

4. Supervise Your Dog

Until your dog is fully trained, it’s important to supervise them closely to prevent accidents. Keep your dog in a crate or confined to a small area of the house when you can’t manage them. If an adult dog poops in your house because of a lack of house training, such as if they poop indoors immediately after going outside, then they lose all privileges of roaming the house freely. They need to go back into the crate as you restart house training.  This video will guide you through the process:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdHtzwq1D2s

5. Reinforce Good Behavior

When your dog goes potty outside, praise and reward them with treats, affection, and verbal praise. This reinforces good behavior and encourages them to continue going potty outside.

6. Clean Up Accidents

If your dog does have an accident inside the house, clean it up thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate any scent that might encourage them to go to the same spot again.

7. Don’t Punish Your Dog

Punishing your dog for pooping in the house can make the problem worse. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and reward-based training.

8. Train your dog to poop on command

A great way to ensure your dog poops while they are outside is to train them to poop on command. This way, you can ensure your dog poops during your last outing in the evening rather than two hours after you go to sleep.

See this video for help with this command:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO6Q-OBLvmM

9. Work with a Professional

If your dog continues to have accidents in the house despite your best efforts, consider working with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can help you identify any underlying medical or behavioral issues and develop a plan to address them.

Remember that training a dog to go potty outside takes time and patience. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to success. With time and effort, your dog can learn appropriate potty habits and be a well-behaved member of your household.

Spray to stop dogs pooping in the house: Are there scents that help?

There is no fool-proof scent that will stop a dog pooping in the house. There are smells that repel dogs sometimes, like citrus and mint. Cleaning up messes with non-ammonia odor repellent can also help discourage a dog from soiling in an area. In our article on smells that dogs hate to pee on, we discuss what scents may stop a dog from messing indoors, why we shouldn’t rely on them, and what to do instead.

Do dogs that poop in the house eat the poop to not get punished?

Dogs may sometimes eat poop to “hide the evidence,” but usually, dogs eat poop when they are indiscriminate eaters. 

Final Thoughts

It’s essential to remember that dogs do not understand punishment in the same way that humans do, so we should never punish them for using the bathroom. They respond best to positive reinforcement and reward-based training. 

Focusing on positive reinforcement encourages good behavior and builds a strong, positive relationship with your dog. If you are having difficulty with training or behavior issues, it’s important to seek the advice of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.