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Why does my dog take so long to find a place to poop?

Dogs have some seemingly strange behaviors when it comes to pooping. At times it can seem like they are just being stubborn or spiteful. Why can’t they just poop? 

Why Does My Dog Take so Long to Find a Place to Poop?

There are several reasons why your dog takes a long time to find a place to poop. These range from checking out the smells of other dogs to the earth’s magnetic fields.

Scents of Other Dogs

Dogs essentially use their bathroom habits as a doggie Facebook. Each pee and poop includes important information, similar to a status update. Your dog may be taking a long time because he’s reading all the information left by other dogs before he gives his “response” in the form of a poop. 

Sending the Right Message

Because dogs use poop as a way to communicate, quite a bit of thought goes into it. This includes the spot where they poop. For humans, the majority of communication is nonverbal. A smile, a hand gesture, a tilt of the head can all send different messages. A dog’s poop has a similar amount of nuance. 


Some dogs are shy about where they use the bathroom. This could be because a dog is vulnerable, particularly when pooping. In the wild, a dog must be constantly on alert for predators or rivals. When a dog is pooping, they are less prepared to defend themselves. 

Your dog may prefer to poop in a private area, like the corner of a fenced-in yard, rather than out in the open. They may simply not want to poop if there are other people or dogs around. Some dogs prefer not to poop in anyone’s presence, including their owner. 

Anxiety can also be caused by the environment. If your dog is prone to anxiety or overstimulation, pooping near a busy roadway might be too much. They may need a quiet familiar place to do their business. 


Dogs are like children in many ways. You’ve likely seen a young child that completely forgot to use the bathroom because they were busy playing. Just like kids, dogs can become distracted and forget to potty. ‘

If your dog is exploring the area, enjoying a walk, or playing, they may not be thinking about pooping. 

Magnetic Poles

It turns out that dogs have their own internal compass. They will align their bodies with the North-South axis when pooping. If you see your dog spinning in a circle before pooping, they are probably aligning themselves with the earth’s magnetic field. Strange but true. 

Why do dogs poop where they are not supposed to?

It can feel like your dog is “revenge pooping”, especially when they poop in the worst possible spot. The truth is that dogs can feel feelings of anger and hurt, but they don’t act out of spite in the way we think of it. 

If your dog is pooping somewhere they shouldn’t, the cause is likely physical or emotional. It may be linked to their feelings, but it’s not done out of revenge. 


This is another way dogs and children are very similar. Bored children will quickly find a way to entertain themselves, and it’s almost never something their parents approve of. 

Dogs need mental stimulation just as people do. If they don’t get it, they will find a way to entertain themselves. One way they entertain themselves is to poop in new, and forbidden, places. Pooping in a forbidden place gives them a sense of excitement and breaks up the monotony. 


Loneliness is a common cause of dogs acting out. This can include destroying items and pooping where they aren’t supposed to. It’s likely an attempt to get your attention. To a dog, negative attention is better than no attention at all. 


Age has a lot to do with how long your dog can hold their poop. A healthy adult dog should be able to hold it’s poop for 8 hours after eating. Puppies can hold it for one hour for every month of age, up to 8 hours at 8 months old. 

If your dog is a puppy, they may poop in the wrong spot simply because they can’t hold it any longer. 

Senior dogs have similar issues. They will need to poop more often than their adult counterparts. Senior dogs may only be able to hold their poop for 1 or 2 hours. Just like puppies, they will use the bathroom where they can when they really need to go. 

Medical Issues

Medical issues can also cause your dog to poop in inappropriate places. These issues include stomach upset, diarrhea, hip dysplasia, and parasites. These conditions may prevent your dog from holding their poop until they can find an appropriate place. 

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can also cause your dog to leave poop bombs. If your dog has separation anxiety, they will experience distress when you aren’t there. 

In severe cases, your dog may whine or show other signs of distress when you leave the room. In most cases, the dog has separation anxiety when the owner leaves them alone for a period of time. This distress can cause your dog to be destructive and use the bathroom in places they shouldn’t. 


Stress can also cause your dog to lose control of their bathroom habits. Stress can occur for many reasons. Your dog may not be feeling well. It could be a change in their routine or environment. 

Why is My Dog Suddenly Taking a Long Time to Poop?

Your dog seemed to be well trained, but now it’s taking them forever to poop. What happened? 

Wants To Be Outside

If you bring your dog outside to poop and then bring them inside as soon as they are done, this may be why they take a long time to poop. They’ve realized that not pooping equals outdoor time, and pooping means going in. 

For dogs that love being outdoors, it’s a no-brainer. Hold off pooping as long as possible to get more outdoor time. Bringing them in after they poop is actually negative reinforcement, a bit like punishing them for doing what you want them to do. 


Anxiety can occur at any time. As we’ve already discussed, stress and anxiety can make it difficult for your dog to poop. It can be a type of performance anxiety, particularly if they feel pressured or rushed to poop. It could also be anxiety unrelated to pooping. When the dog’s body is on high alert from anxiety, pooping is very difficult. 

Unfamiliar Surface or Surroundings

Some dogs are sensitive to changes, and have a difficult time pooping in new surroundings. If you’ve recently changed the area where your dog poops, this could be the issue. 

Surfaces are also a key part of pooping for dogs. They develop a surface preference as puppies. This can be carpet, grass, wood, or paper. Once your dog has a surface preference, they may have a difficult time pooping on other surfaces. 

Social Changes

Social changes can also cause your dog to take longer to poop. There may be a new dog in the neighborhood or a female in heat. These situations will cause your dog to take extra time crafting their poop mail to send the right message. 

Changes in Activity Level

Changes in activity level can also cause your dog to take longer to poop. Exercise helps food move through the digestive system. If your dog is accustomed to exercising each day, they may have a difficult time pooping if they don’t exercise. 

Changes in Diet

Changes in diet can also make it harder for your dog to poop. Some foods take longer to digest than others, which means more time before your dog needs to poop. Food also affects the volume of poop. With high-quality food, 15% will be turned into poop. With lower quality food, 25% will become poop. 


Dogs can experience constipation just like people can. Many of the symptoms are the same. Your dog may experience straining, painful pooping, or hard pebble-like poop. 

Other signs include your dog not pooping for a few days, mucus on the poop, or bloody poop. 

How long should I wait for my dog to poop?

There is no set rule for how long you should wait. Some owners will take their dog out for 10 minutes, while others will walk their dog for 30 minutes in hopes they will poop. 

Watch Their Behavior

The best way to figure out an optimal time is to watch your dog’s behavior. Are they sniffing around looking for a place to poop? Are they laying down? Do they want to play? 

If your dog is looking for a spot to poop, it’s wise to be patient. If they don’t seem to be interested in pooping, it’s better to bring them inside and try again later. 

Keep a Poop Log

It can be helpful to keep a log of what time of day they poop, and when they have their meals. Adult dogs will usually poop around the same time each day, and the same number of times. So, if your dog usually poops in the evening, taking them out to poop in the morning isn’t likely to be successful. 

How can I get my dog to poop faster?

If your dog is taking too long to poop, there are things you can do to speed things up. 


One of the easiest and healthiest constipation remedies is pumpkin. Add a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin to your dog’s food each meal. The fiber and moisture in the pumpkin should help things get moving. Be sure to use plain pumpkin, instead of pumpkin pie feeling. 

You can also add unflavored Metamucil powder or ground dark green vegetables. 

Potty Activities

Potty activities can also help your dog potty. Eating and drinking stimulate pooping, usually within 30 minutes of eating. Exercise or play can also help your dog poop. Try a play session or walk before asking your dog to potty. Lastly, many dogs need to poop after they wake up. This may be when they wake up in the morning, or after a long nap. 

Poop Command

Teaching your dog a poop command takes some time and effort, but it’s well worth it. To teach your dog to poop on command, you’ll start by choosing a phrase. “Go potty” is a common one. If you want to teach your dog to pee and poop on command, you’ll need a different command for each activity. 

When your dog begins to poop, praise them immediately. Use the command phrase and give them a treat. Do this each time they poop. Eventually, they should begin to poop when you give the command. Continue with praise and treats until your dog is reliably pooping on command. 

Walk Them After

If you suspect that your dog is waiting to poop because they enjoy being outside, begin rewarding them for pooping by giving them outside time. Never take your dog in immediately after they poop. Instead, let them play or go for a walk after they poop. 

If they don’t poop within a few minutes of going out, bring them inside and try again later. Your dog will soon realize that pooping gets them what they want, and will happily begin pooping for a walk.