If your dog poops after coming inside from being out in the yard, most likely you feel very frustrated. How can it be that, with all the time spent outdoors, it hasn't crossed your dog's mind to poop, and he only remembers once he's inside the home? What's going on in that doggy brain? Let's find out!
Too Many Distractions
From a dog's perspective, going out in the yard is a place that is multi-faceted with sensorial distractions. First off, there are so many smells. Your dog's sensitive nose is drawn to the smell of freshly cut grass, the bird poop under the tree and those pesky moles digging holes transforming your yard into Swiss cheese.
Then, you have all the tempting sights going on. Butterflies to chase, leaves moved by the wind and birds flying above. Perhaps, you neighbor is out and your dog is paying attention to all his movements.
There are many noises too. While the walls of the home buffers most sounds, once outside, your dog's ears are busy capturing many sounds. He'll likely be turning his head in direction of some distant dogs barking or a trash truck collecting waste.
Not to mention, all the tactile perks associated with being in the yard. Your dog may love to roll in the grass, dig a hole or he may enjoy to stretch out his legs and romp around.
All these distractions deconcentrate your dog from pooping just as you may forget all about using the toilet when visiting Disneyland or at the theater when watching a good movie. Then, once your dog is back inside, and things get a tad bit dull again, he'll be sure to remember, but wait, the door is closed now and it's too late!
A Matter of Emotions
In order to poop in the yard, your dog will need to be relaxed. Relaxed, meaning that he's comfortable in his surroundings, not stressed and neither too excited-basically, in a prefect state of emotional homeostasis.
Emotions can interfere with your dog's ability to poop. So expect to have problems if your dog gets anxious because of noises in the yard or exposure to frightening stimuli.
Frightening stimuli are things that your dog perceives as frightening, not necessarily what you think may be frightening. To a sensitive dog frightening stimuli may be subtle things such as your neighbor suddenly sneezing, a plane flying by or a truck collecting trash.
Yards protected with invisible fences, those that deliver shock when the dog passes a boundary, may be so traumatizing to some dogs that, by experience, they start associating the yard with shock and decide to never pee or poop there again. These dogs are often labeled by those working in the industry as "porch sitters."
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Yes, dogs fall off cliffs and these accidents aren't even uncommon. As we hike with our dogs, we may sometimes overestimate our dog's senses. We may take for granted that dogs naturally know what areas to avoid to prevent falls. However, the number of dogs who fall off from cliffs each year, proves to us that it makes perfect sense to protect them from a potentially life threatening fall.
If you take your dog out first thing in the morning, consider that many dogs are super excited to start the day. They may therefore be too focused on greeting you and romping around acting crazy or maybe they're thinking too much about eating breakfast to focus on pooping.
Once they calm down back inside, they may remember of the urge or they may wait a bit longer until the urge becomes too strong to make it to the door on time.
Lack of Comfort
Did you ever dread sitting on a cold toilet seat? How about traveling back in time when bathrooms where outdoors and known as the "outhouse?" Wouldn't it be terrible to use that in the winter? Well, dogs are similar to us. Many dogs hate going potty when it's cold outside. These dogs will therefore hold it when sent outside and will go only once back inside where it's nice and warm.
Some dogs prefer to potty on a certain surface and if it's covered in rain or snow may refuse to use it. Others won't potty if they know their favorite owner is inside.
Consider your own emotions as well. If you are out and get impatient or frustrated when your dog doesn't potty outside, your dog may sense that and this may inhibit his need to poop.
Not to mention, if your dog has ever soiled in the home and you caught him the act, and did something your dog perceived as intimidating (remember from your dog's perspective not yours), he may have grown fearful of pooping in your presence. Intimidating things may involve physical corrections such as scruff shakes, pushing a dog's nose in poop and even just plain getting upset about having to clean up.
These reactions may lead to a dog who hides to poop and pee. These dogs will therefore eliminate when you are out of sight as it may happen when you close the door to come back inside and sit down on the couch.
Now That You Know...
So your dog has a tendency to poop right when he comes back from outside, what's left to do? Well, first the good news, if it happens always afterward coming inside, you have an advantage; predictability! You can therefore use this predictability to your advantage. Here are some tips and ideas.
- Stay outside a little longer if feasible. Sometimes, it's just a matter or staying out with your dog more. Some dogs need to feel safe when outside and accomplish this by first smelling around and checking out the perimeters of the yard. Once they feel all is under control, they may then pick a space to potty.
- Keep an eye on your dog. If your dog hasn't pooped when outside, watch him very carefully once back inside. If you notice signs that he's about to poop, pick him up or entice him to chase you out back to the yard and encourage him to poop there. You may need to repeat this scene over and over until you can get him to poop outdoors.
- Alternatively, if you can't watch your dog after he comes back inside, you can crate your dog and take him out again to retry in the next few minutes.
- Make sure to praise lavishly and reward your dog with a tasty treat after successfully pooping in the yard.
- Train your dog to go potty on command. It may take some time to train this, but it can turn very useful in the long run.
- Create a routine where your dog must go pee and poop in the yard first before you throw a party followed by having fun in the yard or in the house.
- Look at these tips for dogs who won't potty in the train and these tips for dog who won't potty when it's cold.
- Use gentle potty training techniques, refraining from using physical corrections and punishment.
- Help your dog feel safe in the yard and if possible take him out when there aren't too many frightening sights and sounds. If this is inevitable, work on helping your dog habituate to these stimuli by creating positive associations. You may need to hire a dog behavior professional for guidance.
- If your dog was previously pretty good in pooping outside and now is having accidents in the house, you can find some troubleshooting reasons here: why is my dog pooping in the house?
- Make sure you clean up messes using a good odor neutralizer such as Nature's Miracle. This will prevent the area from smelling like poop which will otherwise attract your dog to keep going there over and over.