Your sleeping soundly in your bed, and you think your dog is too. When you wake up, you are greeted with a pile of poop. If your lucky, you’ll notice it before you step in it. Or perhaps your dog wakes you up in the middle of the night to go poop. Neither of these scenarios is very appealing. The first step to fixing the problem is sorting out why it’s occurring. 

Why is my dog pooping at night?

There are several reasons why your dog might be pooping at night. It can usually be remedied once you understand the underlying cause. 

Eating too Late or Early

If your dog is eating dinner too late, this can cause them to poop at night. Once the food works its way through their system, they need to poop. If you are feeding them several hours before bedtime and they are pooping at night, try feeding them later. This might allow them to wait till morning to poop.

House Training

If you are in the process of house training, it might take some time for your dog to stop pooping at night. They may be successful during the day when you are there to remind them, but not able to control it at night. 

Stress

If you’ve ever had an upset stomach to do nervousness or anxiety, you understand the term “nervous stomach”. This applies to dogs as well. If they are under a lot of stress, it can throw their digestive system off and cause them to poop at night. 

Difficulty Communicating

Your dog may be struggling to communicate with you. If they need to go before bed and you miss the signals, it leaves them little choice but to go during the night. 

Age

If your dog is a puppy or senior dog, age could be the cause of your poop troubles. Puppies can’t hold their bowels and bladder as long as an adult dog, and they have less control over where and when they go. 

Older dogs can have difficulty holding bowel movements as well. They may also have arthritis or other conditions that make pooping more difficult. 

Why does my dog only poop at night?

You take your dog out to potty several times during the day, but they never poop. After you’ve gone to bed, then they do their business. This can leave you frustrated, and wondering why your dog only poops at night. 

New Home

If the dog is new to your home, they are adjusting to your method of house training. Even if they are fully house trained, you won’t do things exactly like their previous owner. It can take them some time to adjust. They may feel more comfortable pooping at night because they are unclear about your expectations during the day. 

Fear of Punishment 

Dogs don’t form memories the same way people do. Instead, they form associations. If your dog was punished for pooping by you or a previous owner, they may be afraid to poop when you are around. They may have been punished for pooping in the house and refuse to poop outside during the day. This is because the dog doesn’t remember the specifics of the situation. They remember they pooped, were seen, and something bad happened. 

Shyness

Shyness can also cause a dog to only poop at night. A dog is at its most vulnerable when it’s pooping. Some dogs prefer to poop close to their owner, looking to them for protection in those vulnerable moments. Other dogs seem to be shy, although not for the same reasons as people. They simply feel safer pooping when they are alone, and this is most likely to occur at night. 

Distraction

Some dogs are easily distracted. There’s a lot going on during the day, and the dog may be too interested in the happenings to use the bathroom. At night, things are quiet and relatively boring. There’s nothing else to do, so why not take a poop?

Habit

Dogs are creatures of habit. Once they are used to a certain routine, they tend to stick to it. If your dog has gotten into the habit of pooping at night, they may continue to do so simply because that’s when they are used to pooping. 

Nighttime Attention

Dogs are master manipulators, second only to cats. If your dog discovers that waking you up in the night gets them some extra pets and attention, they may continue to do so just for your companionship. It might be cute the first time they wake you up to go poop, but the cuteness will wear off quickly for you. Unfortunately, as long as it seems to be working, your dog isn’t likely to give up the game. 

Why is my dog suddenly pooping in the house at night?

Everything seems to be going smoothly, and suddenly your dog starts pooping in the house at night. There are potential behavioral and physical causes for this poopy situation. 

Upset Stomach

An upset stomach can occur for a variety of reasons. They may have eaten too much dog food. They may have a food allergy. They may have eaten something while wandering that made them sick. You might be surprised to learn that dogs can catch stomach viruses from other dogs, just as humans can catch them from other humans. 

Anxiety or Stress

Anxiety and stress can take a physical and mental toll on your pooch. Have there been any major changes to your routine or your dog’s environment? Things like moving, a new family member, or a new pet can cause stress. Sometimes dogs have a bout with anxiety with no apparent cause as well. If they seem stressed or restless, this could be the reason they are dropping nighttime poop packages. 

Separation Anxiety

Some studies suggest this is the most common reason dogs poop in the house. When a dog has separation anxiety, they get very stressed or anxious when you aren’t there. You’ll likely notice that your dog whines when you are about to leave the house and may even try to stop you. 

Separation anxiety doesn’t just occur when you aren’t physically present, though. It can also occur when you are asleep, particularly if your dog doesn’t have access to you during the night. Peeing and pooping when left alone is an indication of Separation anxiety. Many dogs chew on things they shouldn’t as well. 

Illness

If you are wondering if your dog is sick, you’ll need to make some poop observances. If the stool consistency or volume has changed significantly, it could be a sign of illness. Your dog having less control than normal or pooping less or more frequently are also indications the problem could be medical. 

Parasites are a common cause of poop problems. Viruses and bacteria can cause your dog to be unable to control their poop, similar to human diarrhea. Vomiting can also indicate an illness. If you notice changes in your dog’s poop or other gastrointestinal symptoms, you should take them to the vet for a checkup. A dog experiencing illness will have accidents frequently, and not just at night. 

Physical Issues

Dogs can also suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, just as humans can. This can make it difficult for them to control when they poop. It can also cause them to experience urgency, which can lead to accidents. Arthritis and other painful conditions can also be the culprit. If it’s painful for your dog to move, it may not be worth the trouble to go outside. 

Dogs can also suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. This causes cognitive decline and forgetfulness in dogs, just as it does in humans. The dog may forget its toilet training or not even realize they are in the house. Liver disease, cancer, diabetes, and kidney stones can also cause your dog to poop in the house. 

Generally, if a dog is pooping at night due to physical issues, it will also have accidents during the day. 

How do I get my dog to stop pooping in the house at night?

Having experienced this problem myself, I know how frustrating it can be. At times, it can feel like your dog is doing it on purpose. Like they simply wait for you to go to bed and then get up to their poop mischief. However, it’s unlikely that your dog is pooping at night out of spite. These strategies should help you get the night poops under control. 

Check For Physical or Medical Issues

It’s important to rule out physical and medical issues before implementing other strategies. If your dog is unwell, you’ll need to work with your vet to manage the problem. If they aren’t, then you’ll have some peace of mind and be ready to try other methods. 

Change Feeding Time

If the cause of your dog’s pooping is feeding too early or late, the fix is simple. You’ll need to adjust their feeding time. Experts recommend feeding your dog at least 3 hours before bedtime, and sticking to the amount recommended on the package or your vet for each feeding. Of course, each dog is different, so you may need to adjust the schedule a bit. 

Don’t Leave Food Out

When you feed your dog, it’s best to only leave the food out for 20 minutes. Even if you don’t stick to the 20-minute rule, be sure to take food up at least 3 hours before bed. If it’s left out, your dog might be snacking at night, and then needing to poop. 

Add Digestive Boosters

Digestive boosters can help keep your dog’s digestive system functioning properly. Eggs, including the shell, and pumpkin seeds are great for your dog’s health and digestion. They won’t stop pooping by themselves, but they can help regulate your dog’s system. 

Walk After Dinner

A good walk can get your dog’s digestion working so they can poop before bed. It’s most effective when it’s part of a daily routine. A vigorous walk is great for getting things moving, but even a short walk can help. It does double duty, because your dog is getting exercise and will ideally poop while on the walk. 

Be Patient and Consistent

If the issue is behavioral, it will require lots of patience and consistency. If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, you’ll need to do counter-conditioning. This is a process that gets your dog to associate being alone with positive things instead of fear or anxiety. 

Give them a treat or a special toy when you leave the house. If they experience separation anxiety at bedtime, give them a small treat or a puzzle toy before bed. This will help them associate the time with positive experiences, so they are less likely to poop due to anxiety. 

Limit Movement

The downside to movement stimulating the bowels is that if your dog is up playing at night, it could cause them to need to poop. You can combat this by placing them in a kennel at night so they can’t roam around. This also encourages them to sleep instead of play, making them more likely to sleep through the night. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.