Why Does My Dog Poop In Multiple Spots? (We Asked A Vet)

Why Does My Dog Poop In Multiple Spots
<a href="https://notabully.org/author/dr-nita-patel" target="_blank" rel="noopener">     <span style="font-size: 21px; color: black;">Fact Checked & Reviewed By: </span>     <strong style="font-size: 20px; color: black;">Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS</strong> </a>

Dr. Patel is a Florida-based veterinarian with over half a decade of experience.

<a href="https://notabully.org/author/dr-nita-patel" target="_blank" rel="noopener">     <span style="font-size: 19px; color: black;">Fact Checked & Reviewed By: </span>     <strong style="font-size: 19px; color: black;">Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS</strong> </a>
Fact Checked & Reviewed By: Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS

Dr. Patel is a Florida-based veterinarian with over half a decade of experience.

While puppies poop quite often, the average adult dog usually only needs to poop once or twice a day. As someone with multiple adult dogs, I can personally attest that this is true, at least most of the time.

Interestingly, I do notice a big difference in their pooping schedule depending on their diet, exercise, and stress level. For example, on days when we are at home all day, they meet an average of one or two poops a day. On long hikes, they not only poop multiple times but in multiple spots. Sometimes when they are stressed or overly excited (for example having guests over or going to agility competitions), not only do they poop in multiple spots, but their stool might be looser than normal.

So why does your dog poop in multiple places?

Dogs poop in multiple places when they are spreading their scent or feel anxious. Diet, exercise, and aging can also affect your dog’s pooping habits. Finally, if your dog has not finished pooping or has been holding it all day, they might not poop at once but move to multiple spots. 

Many dog owners experience their dogs pooping in multiple spots. It can be embarrassing to realize you did not bring enough poop bags and frustrating to have stepped in a spot where you were not expecting poop. So let’s take a look at the reasons your dog might be pooping in multiple spots and if you should be worried.

Why Does My Dog Poop In Multiple Spots?

It seems every dog has their weird style of pooping. While I always appreciate the dogs that get straight to business as soon as they are let outside, some need a good sniff and walk to get things moving, even when it is pouring rain. Others will, once they find a good spot to poop, spin circles or walk as they poop. 

Then there are the dogs that keep you guessing and will poop in multiple spots in the yard or on walks. While it might be an annoying and messy habit, there is probably a good reason why your dog poops in multiple spots.

Reason 1. Your Dog Is Marking

It is estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is over 10,000 times more powerful than a human’s sense of smell. So it should come as no surprise that smelling and spreading their scent is an important way for dogs to communicate with each other. Marking using pheromones helps dogs indicate their territory, whether a dog is in heat or when they are stressed.

This is such a great way of communication that a dog can discern the age and gender of another dog simply by smelling urine or poop markings. When dogs want to spread their scent by pooping, they might poop on top of things or poop in multiple spots.

If pooping in multiple spots as a marking behavior is becoming a big enough issue that your dog is having accidents in the house, remember to never punish your dog for pooping in the house. Instead, use positive reinforcement and go back to potty training foundations.

Here is a video to get you started.

Reason 2. Diet

While dogs tend to get into things that are not great for their digestion systems, sometimes what might be making them poop in multiple spots is their normal diet.

There are a lot of varying opinions out there about what a dog should be eating. Kibble and wet food is convenient and most dogs do very well on it. Some companies make raw food and even dehydrate it so that it lasts a long time.

Some people prefer to make their dog’s food and there is even evidence that dogs that eat human-grade food tend to poop less. However, that does not necessarily mean that it is better for your dog’s health.

If you do decide to make your dog’s food at home, veterinarian Nita Patel reminded us how important it is to work with your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to develop a home-made diet to ensure it contains all the essential amino acids, and ingredients that a well-balanced dog food requires depending on your dog’s life stage.

Allergies, including food allergies and sensitivities, can cause dogs to get hives, be itchy, sneeze, vomit, or have diarrhea and loose stool. This could lead them to poop in multiple places. Chicken is a common allergen for dogs, but luckily there are plenty of options with other proteins to make sure your dog is getting the right food.

If your dog seems to have loose stool or is often pooping in multiple spots, here is a great nutritional guide to help get your dog on the right track.

Finally, extra treats means more food to digest. If your dog has been getting extra treats, they might start pooping more and in multiple spots. 

Reason 3. Exercise

Unless you have a particularly low-energy breed of dog, most dogs will exercise as much as you will allow them. This means walks, runs, hikes, and dog sports. Certain breeds will even begin to get destructive if they are not exercised daily to wear them out.

I have a border collie and two herding dog mixes and they require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation or they get bored. This morning I took them on a long trail run, and each dog pooped in multiple spots. The last couple of times the stool was softer, but my dogs seemed to feel fine.

An extra long walk or harder exercise can often cause a dog to poop in multiple spots multiple times. According to animalbiome.com, vigorous exercise can cause a dog’s body to “send more blood flow to the muscles, directing it away from other areas, like the digestive system.” This means things are moving faster than normal, causing dogs to poop in multiple spots.

Pooping in multiple spots while exercising, even if it is diarrhea, is not abnormal. However, make sure you pack extra poop bags when you are planning an extra-long walk!

Reason 4. Your Dog Is A Puppy

Raising a puppy can be difficult for many reasons. They chew on things, wake you up at odd hours, and bite you when they are teething. Not only do puppies poop more than the average adult dog, but they are likely to poop in multiple spots. However, it is not entirely your puppy’s fault.

Puppy’s digestive tracts are still developing and they are adjusting to new food, which causes them to poop multiple times and in multiple spots. While they are learning to potty train and are becoming accustomed to their new routine, it is not uncommon for puppies to poop 5 or 6 times a day.

Reason 5. Anxiety

It is easy to empathize with dogs who get diarrhea and poop in multiple spots when they are stressed. A stressed brain, both in humans and dogs, releases chemicals and hormones that directly affect the gut and cause stomach issues. These stomach issues can result in butterflies, nausea, vomiting, and of course the sudden need to poop.

So, if your dog gets anxious and suddenly needs to poop during the daytime or nighttime, they might be so stressed that they end up moving around and pooping in multiple spots.

There are many different causes of dog anxiety including:

Fear: For example being afraid of loud noises, strangers, and new places.

Separation: Dogs suffering from separation anxiety cannot be comforted when separated from their family.

Age-related: Older dogs tend to get lost and become confused easily, causing anxiety.

Besides pooping in multiple spots, dogs suffering from anxiety might also pace, become destructive, whine, and bark constantly, or try to hide.

Furthermore, excitement anxiety has very similar effects on the stomach as stress anxiety. Remember my dog who poops multiple times in multiple spots at agility competitions?

She is so excited and full of adrenaline that she throws off her gut balance, which causes her to poop in multiple spots. It is similar to the nervous energy a person might feel before speaking in front of a group of people.

Reason 6. Your Dog Did Not Finish Pooping

Have you ever watched your dog stop mid-poop to bark at a squirrel or get distracted by a car coming down the road? Dogs are notorious for being distracted easily. But once they have come back to the business at hand, pooping, they finish in a different spot.

Dogs who are in a safe environment and become so distracted that they don’t finish pooping might need some impulse control training. In this particular situation, your dog lacks the self-control to not be distracted by random stimuli. Impulse control needs to be taught to dogs and it helps improve many behaviors, from pooping all at once to reducing jumping.

Check out this video to get started.

Comparably are dogs who get scared mid-poop. Sensitive dogs might bolt during pooping if they hear a truck backfire, gunshot, or fireworks. They have to finish up and could be too scared to go to the same place they were before, pooping in multiple spots.

Reason 7. They Have Been Holding It All Day

Dogs who are on an inconsistent feeding and walking/yard-time schedule might not poop when you let them out first thing in the morning. Dogs usually poop within an hour after eating, but if they do not get that chance they could end up holding it in all day. Once your dog finally gets the chance to go outside, they are likely to poop in multiple spots because their colon is extra full.

However, it might not be the lack of a proper routine that leads your dog to poop in multiple spots after holding it all day. Many dogs are picky about where they poop and wait till they can be in the right place at the right time.

Should I Be Worried?

Generally pooping in multiple spots is not something to be worried about. But dogs of all shapes and sizes can be stricken by stomach issues that can cause loose stool, diarrhea, and pooping in multiple spots. Hopefully, your dog suddenly pooping in multiple spots is a simple stomach bug and they will recover quickly.

Dogs that squat in multiple spots without producing any stool can be a cause of concern too. Dr. Patel explains that this could be caused by inflammation of the bowels that makes dogs feel like they have to go (and is usually accompanied by diarrhea) or constipation where your dog keeps trying to pass the same pesky poo.

Such gastrointestinal issues could be caused by a number of conditions, from Canine Parvovirus to ulcers, parasites, and infections, as well as adjusting to a new medication.

Besides pooping in multiple spots, make sure to check your dog’s stools for consistency and blood. Other symptoms that indicate your dog is suffering from a stomach disorder include lethargy, vomiting, whining, and lack of appetite. Always take your dog to your veterinarian if you suspect they are in distress.

How Can I Help Keep My Dog On A Good Bathroom Schedule?

While there are some cases of dogs pooping in multiple places that cannot be helped (for example dogs who poop in multiple places because of anxiety or exercising vigorously) there are certainly ways to encourage keeping pooping spots to a minimum.

From the moment you bring home your brand new puppy (or re-homed adult), it is important to implement a consistent schedule. Having a dependable routine will not only help with house training but also give your puppy a chance to bond and learn to trust you. Especially during the first couple of years of their life. 

Part of that routine is consistently feeding and walking at around the same time every day. Feeding twice a day is not only beneficial to your dog’s digestive health, but has been proven to help prevent medical emergencies like bloating. For more information and to see if you have a dog that is susceptible to bloat, check out this article.

Walking your dog around 30 minutes after they eat gives them the best chance to have digested their food enough to not have to poop in multiple spots.

Finally, by walking your dog on a leash, you can slow them down so they can focus and are less likely to poop in multiple places. You can also be ready to reward them for using the bathroom outside!

Final Thoughts

Part of being a responsible dog owner is not only keeping your dog on a consistent schedule but to know their routine well enough to know if pooping in multiple spots is normal behavior or something to worry about.

For example, if your dogs always poop in multiple spots when they exercise, are anxious or because they like to mark, you can learn to expect this of their personality. You can also expect a puppy or a dog with food sensitivities to poop in multiple places since it is in their nature.

Although if your dog is pooping in multiple spots because they didn’t finish or have been holding it all day, you might want to adjust your schedule a bit and walk them on a leash to make sure they get all their business done in one place.

Once your dog has settled into their routine and you can trust their pooping habits, it is okay to occasionally change things up. Stuff happens and sometimes you might come home late or have to cut a walk short. What is important is that the foundations are set properly and you can trust your dog.

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