Having some trouble with your dog’s bathroom habits? Wondering... “How do I make my dog poop outside?” Let’s talk about why this happens, and how to fix it.

dog outside in the woods

“Why won’t my dog poop outside?” Is that a question that you’ve asked yourself lately? It’s frustrating when you know that something is wrong—physically or emotionally—with your dog, but you don’t know what it is because they can’t tell you with words. Luckily, there are usually some signs, symptoms, and signals you can watch out for to help give you some clues. And we can help translate what your precious pooch is trying to tell you.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to have bathroom issues. Some dogs might have bad habits and need a little extra training. Some of these problems might be caused by simple stomach issues. And some dogs may have more serious health problems that need to be addressed by your pup’s veterinarian. So let’s talk about why your dog might be struggling, and how you can help them fix it.

6 Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Poop Outside

Before we get into “how” we can fix this problem, we need to first understand the “why” behind the problem. Otherwise, you won’t see any improvements, and you could accidentally be ignoring something serious.

1. Habits & house training

The most basic and simple problem might just be that your pup isn’t pooping outside because of bad habits. And they just need to be re-trained. Remember that routine and praise are most important!  

Although you’ll naturally want to discipline your pup for pooping in the house, it’s actually more important to praise and reward them for pooping outside. When you punish them for having an accident inside the house—especially if it’s a delayed punishment—it only teaches them that you are upset about the poop itself. And this could cause them to just hide their poop in the house even more.

Having routine bathroom times will help them understand the expectations. Plus, dogs love a good routine! You can also help clarify bathroom time by having a designated space outside that is only used for “doing their business,” like a fenced-in dog run.

puppy with sad eyes

2. Needs more outdoor time

If you don’t take your pup outside enough for exercise, play time, and sniffing around time… They might actually be milking their time outdoors by delaying going poop. This might sound silly, but it’s true! If they know you are going to take them back inside the second they are done, they might be trying to delay things to get just a few more minutes outside.

3. Trauma

Your sweet pup may be afraid of things outside like loud trucks, crazy kids, storms, etc. Or they may even have traumas from abuse in their past that make it scary and difficult for them to be properly potty-trained. If they don’t feel safe, they won’t be able to do their business.

4. Constipation

If your dog isn’t pooping at all, or if they’re having random poop accidents inside the house, even though they are fully potty-trained… it could be because they are constipated. This may be caused by a medication they are taking, because they switched dog food, or because they are being fed too many scraps off the dinner table. Constipation can also come from anxiety and stress. Or even from a lack of exercise.

My dog was once very constipated, and I asked my veterinarian about it. They said to remember that “movement creates movement.” And that taking my dog for more walks could help things start to flow more. Also, they recommended feeding her canned pumpkin—which worked amazingly!

Pumpkin has tons of fiber in it, which means it helps correct stomach issues. And dogs love the taste. So I always keep a couple of cans of pumpkin on hand now. Just make sure that when you buy it, you buy completely plain, unsweetened canned pumpkin. Anything else like a sugary pie filling will just make matters worse.

5. Other medical issues

Your dog may have health issues that are worse than just standard constipation. They may be suffering from a urinary tract infection or severe gastrointestinal problems like bloat: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus. If not treated, these things could lead to infection, urinary stones, or worse. So please make sure to always consult your veterinarian if your dog is not pooping and peeing normally, or if they aren’t eating and drinking normally.

dog on the couch

6. Senior dog

As dogs age, just like humans, they can experience incontinence. This means they just can’t “hold it” like they used to. So your senior dog may have accidents in the house, even if they never did before. At this point, you can consult your veterinarian for suggestions and help. But make sure to give your old pup a lot of grace. Keep a good carpet cleaner on hand. And some people even choose to use doggy diapers.

How to Get Your Dog to Poop Outside

Now that you’ve determined the cause of the problem, here are a few helpful tips to solve it! Again, if your dog has a medical issue, please call your veterinarian immediately. These tips are not to solve serious health issues.

  • Start a routine bathroom schedule, and stick to it.
  • Create a designated bathroom space outside like a small, fenced-in dog run.
  • Take your dog on more walks. Movement creates movement. Plus, if they are getting more exercise and playtime, they won’t doddle as much when it’s bathroom time.
  • Use canned pumpkin. Foods that are high in fiber and safe for dogs to eat will help them stay regular.
  • Praise and rewards work best! So make sure to let your pup know when they’ve done a good job, and give them a special treat right after to reinforce the good habit.
  • Talk in a sweet, calming voice. Your pup needs to know they are in a safe space to do their business.

Try these helpful tips, and before you know it, your dog will be a whole new pup!

For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.

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