Dogs poop 1-3 times a day depending on their diet, age, and activity level. A puppy might poop more than that, and senior dogs tend to poop at the minimum simply because they are not as active.
Assuming you have done a solid job potty-training your dog (maybe through positive reinforcement and crate training), they probably have a pretty good bathroom routine. They know when they get to go outside to use the bathroom as well as how to tell you they need to go.
But what if their potty training routine suddenly goes horrifically and disgustingly wrong?
Why did your dog suddenly poop on you?
It is unlikely your dog purposely pooped on you. It is probably because they did not know better, it was an accident, they were stressed, or they were trying to mark their territory. However, pooping on you might be a sign of a medical issue that needs immediate veterinarian assistance.
It can cause concern and literally stink up your relationship with your canine best friend if they poop on you or make you feel like your dog is punishing you. But let’s discuss the reasons this might happen why it is not because of any vengeful intentions from your dog and why you should not punish them.
Finally, we will discuss why your dog pooping on you might be a cause for concern and a symptom of several potential medical issues.
Why Did My Dog Poop On Me?
Let’s look at a scenario: You come home late after a long day at work. Your dog or puppy jumps in your lap very excited to see you, and when they jump back down you discover they have pooped on you!
Do not jump to the conclusion that your dog pooped on you to get back at you for getting home late. As we will discuss below, they might have pooped on you by accident, because they did not know better, or because of anxiety and emotional distress (perhaps caused by you coming home late).
Reason 1. Your Dog Does Not Know Better
Raising a puppy is not easy. They come to you as a blank slate and it is your job to shape and use positive reinforcement to set boundaries and train them. Otherwise, they can easily get into mischief and destroy your home.
One of the first training obstacles puppy owners have to start working on is potty training, or training your new best friend to use the bathroom in the correct spot. Crates are a helpful tool for potty training, and this Kikopup video gives you some great advice as well.
Puppies need training and time to figure out where to poop. If your new puppy poops on you, it is not intentional, they simply do know not better.
Reason 2. It Was An Accident
Dogs are not set on purposely pooping on you. So if your perfectly healthy and potty-trained dog poops on you, it is most likely an accident.
There are several scenarios where a dog might accidentally poop on you. They wake you up in the middle of the night for a bathroom emergency, and because of it being dark and badly needing to poop, they end up pooping on you. Sounds like they were in such a rush they did not see your shoe.
Pooping leaves a dog exposed and can be a stressful experience for many dogs. Because of this, many dogs look to us as their protector and will watch us when they are pooping to make sure we are keeping an eye out. This might lead to them getting as close to you as possible and accidentally pooping on you.
If you have a nervous pooper, consider taking them on walks during less busy times and be aware of scary triggers like fireworks, cars, or guns. This will help give them the confidence to give you space and not get so close as to poop on you.
Reason 3. Anxiety
One of the most common symptoms of anxiety, specifically separation anxiety, is pooping or peeing in the house when left alone. Along with chewing up furniture, howling or barking, pacing, or trying to escape, an anxious dog is unable to control their destructive habits when left alone.
An anxious dog might also be so relieved to see you come home that they might poop on you. When they are happy and extremely excited, some dogs have trouble controlling their bladder or bowel movements. This is especially true for puppies or senior dogs that might accidentally poop on you because of anxiety and excitement.
Reason 4. Emotional Distress
There is a common thought that dogs will seek vengeance by pooping or peeing where they are not supposed to. So you might think that your dog who pooped on you is doing it out of revenge, especially if they got in trouble and were just yelled at. However, revenge pooping is simply anthropomorphizing dogs and is not a thing.
Dogs do experience emotional distress and there are a range of behaviors including bathroom accidents that show that. For example, if you yell at your dog for getting into the trash, they are scared. That emotional distress from being yelled at can be scary, causing them to tremble and to poop on you out of fear.
Instead of using punishment to shape your dog’s behaviors, use positive reinforcement. Your dog will learn the behaviors through a reward-based system rather than avoiding punishment. Not only will the picture be clearer for your dog, but they will learn to trust you and have a better relationship with you.
Reason 5. Middening
Up until now, we have emphasized that dogs do not poop on you on purpose. But if they do poop on you on purpose, they are not doing it out of vengeance or to be funny. They are probably marking their territory.
Pooping on top of things, or middening, is a common way for animals of many species to communicate with each other. Middening refers to piles of poop or pooping on high things in the animal world. Below is a video about rhinos middening in the wild.
From wild animals like the rhino to your domesticated pooch, it is a great way to let other animals know where their territory is or if they are in heat and looking for a mate.
Dog’s sense of smell is amazing and it is over 10,000 times stronger than humans’ sense of smell. The taller their poop is the farther the range that smells will reach. For some dogs, that might mean they poop on you to get the message out to other dogs.
Should I Be Worried?
Hopefully, you can write off your healthy dog that pooped on you as an accident. You can be more aware of where they are when they are pooping and also be on top of taking them out for bathroom breaks.
However, pooping on you could be a symptom of a bigger issue than your dog being confused or scared. It could be a symptom of potential medical issues, especially if paired with other sudden bad bathroom habits like suddenly pooping in the house. A sick dog cannot always control their bowel movements and might poop on you.
One of the first things many veterinarians look at when they have a chronically sick dog is food allergies. Not only do food allergies cause hives, itchy skin, and vomiting, but also diarrhea. This could result in your sick dog pooping on you.
Luckily there are lots of specialty kibbles for sensitive dogs so you can figure out what kind of dog food works best for your dog.
There are many reasons that your dog might not feel well causing diarrhea and the need to go as soon as possible, even if that means they poop on you instead of letting you know they need to go outside.
With any luck, it is a short-term problem and your dog ate something they should not have and their upset stomach will feel better soon.
Dogs can pick up illnesses like the flu, parasites, and viral or bacterial infections causing severe gastrointestinal issues. If your dog is in your lap or near you, they might be able to stop when they suddenly have to poop. Never punish your dog for pooping on you when they are sick, they are already scared and stressed.
According to veterinarians Ryan Llera and Ernest Ward, “Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures without a known cause or abnormal brain lesion (brain injury or disease).” Seizures themselves are characterized by an electrical surge in the brain causing uncontrollable shaking, tremors, and convulsions.
During a seizure, dogs are unable to control their bladder or bowel movements. This means if you pick them up while they are having a seizure there is a good chance they will poop and pee on you. I have a dog with epilepsy and have been both peed and pooped on when I pick him up to protect his head during a seizure.
Epilepsy is not the only condition that causes seizures. Head injuries or brain tumors can also cause a dog to have convulsions.
Often aging dogs mentally and physically lose the capacity to control their bowel movements. They might poop on you completely unintentionally, not realizing what they are doing.
Because of dementia, older dogs might seem to forget the training they have had all their lives, including potty training. Other symptoms include confusion, increased anxiety, being more vocal, and peeing or pooping in the house. Or pooping on you without realizing it.
Physically older dogs are getting weaker, including the muscles that control their bowel movements. Some dogs might suffer from ailments like degenerative myelopathy, which is a condition that causes the spinal cord to weaken and eventually mild to severe paralysis of the hind end.
Older dogs who suffer from a condition like this and poop on you might need to wear a diaper in the house. Below is an instructional video about diapers and dogs.
What Can I D0?
So your dog pooped on you. What do you do to make sure it does not happen again?
If your dog has been generally healthy and had good potty training habits up till now, it could have been a simple accident.
However, if it pooping on you is becoming a reoccurring behavior, it is time to get a health check-up by your veterinarian. They can prescribe anti-anxiety medicine for stressed pets, run labs to help diagnose any gastrointestinal illnesses or help you set up an elimination diet to determine if they are suffering from food allergies.
Finally, if you and your veterinarian determine your dog is healthy and they still poop on you, it might be time to go back to potty training basics. If they already have a good foundation, they should pick it up quickly as long as you are consistent and patient. Take them out after they eat, and reward them when they poop outside on the ground and not on you. Dogs are never too old to be trained and they will pick up good bathroom habits in no time!
Dog ownership is not always glamorous. It includes smelly wet dogs after a walk in the rain, puppy-proofing your house so they do not get into the trash, and cleaning up the occasional vomit puddles or pee and poop. It can get worse if they poop on you.
Hopefully, your dog pooping on you is a training issue. Either they are young puppy that has not been properly house-trained or need a refresher course in proper bathroom etiquette. Anxiety, emotional distress, or marking their territory can lead to your dog pooping on you, but positive reinforcement training can help shape better behavior and give your dog more confidence.
Unfortunately, though, your dog pooping on you could be a sign of a medical issue. Most GI upsets clear up on their own, but if your dog is sick for multiple days and has trouble eating or drinking, you need to get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Older dogs and dogs who suffer from epilepsy can be prescribed medicine to make their quality of life better and hopefully stop them from pooping on you.
It is easy to get angry if your dog poops on you, but it is important not to scare your dog. They might instead hide to poop in places like the closet or corners of the house. Instead, use positive reinforcement to train them to poop in the correct place. Once they learn to go to the right place, just make sure you don’t step in it!