Senior dog poops inside at night.
April 24, 2012 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Senior dog pooping inside. How to let him out and keep racoons out too?

We recently moved into a new house. Our German Shepherd is almost 13 and is adjusting pretty well to the new space. He uses his dog door and poops outside with no problems during the day.

The issue we have is that he's starting to have less bowel control- on walks or at home he can no longer hold it more than a minute until he finds the right place to go. On walks this results in him going in places he never would choose, like on the sidewalk- he would previously always wait until he was on grass, dirt or gravel. At home it is now resulting in him pooping in the house sometimes at night.

In our old house we let him have outside access at night, so he was probably pooping outside at night there.
In the new house we need to lock the dog door at night because racoons have started testing it out and will come in for certain if we leave it open- I've caught one halfway through. The dog is deaf, so he doesn't hear the door opening/closing, but if he finds a raccoon inside it's going to be a bloodbath.

His food and water are in the garage, which he has access to until we go to bed.
He has taken to eating only part of his dinner when we serve it @ 5 and part of it later, between 7PM and bedtime, or not at all. It's not clear if this has anything to do with the late-night pooping.

The pooping inside happened a few times recently at the old place when he was locked in (due to barking at night), so I don't think it's being caused by the transition to the new house, only the raccoons are new to the equation.

So, is there any way to solve this dilemma? He sometimes whines at us a bit right before he poops inside, so sometimes we wake up enough to let him out, but then usually we end up going to bed leaving the dog door unlocked with him outside (he will happily sleep half the night outside), which is bad for raccoon access.

Is there a way to have the dog door unlock only for him? I've heard of such things for cat doors.

The other option we're considering is having a place inside near the door that's his designated pooping spot at night. We really don't want him to get too used to the idea of pooping indoors though.
posted by Four Flavors to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Has he been to the vet, yet, for analysis of the change in habits?
posted by batmonkey at 12:13 PM on April 24, 2012

How techie are you? I think you should make something like Flo Control.
posted by 200burritos at 12:16 PM on April 24, 2012

They do make dog doors which only open if your dog has an electronic "key" that unlocks it. If your dog wears a collar, it shouldn't be trouble to just fit the key right on there.

Here's an example of a door like this: Drs. Foster & Smith
posted by juniperesque at 12:20 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

My fiance's parents dog is like this and their solution is to get up at 4hr intervals during the night to let the dog out.
posted by pintapicasso at 12:21 PM on April 24, 2012

They have collar activated dog doors.
posted by Kimberly at 12:22 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Our senior dog. . .well she passed away, but for the last few years of her life, the best we could do was to have camping tarps down on floor coverings which we wanted to protect, and to have her sleep in the laundry room at night (which was hard in that she'd ALWAYS slept at the foot of our bed).

That, and a very regular diet, no table scraps, etc. in an attempt to try to keep her stool formed and firm.

It is not his fault. His nerves are such that he is not aware that he is about to go.

To our friends, we were either saints, or crazy, for adjusting like this, but after trying many things, it just came down to managing her incontinence.
posted by Danf at 1:10 PM on April 24, 2012

With our senior dog, we made it a point to take him for a quickie walk (sometimes just the length of the yard) last thing before bed. This seemed to get things "moving" for him, and once he'd pooped he'd be OK until morning.

Echoing that it's not his fault!, that a vet check would be a good idea, and that attention to diet makes things much easier.
posted by bunji at 1:41 PM on April 24, 2012

I think a combination of collar-controlled dog door and some variation on the puppy pad seems the way to go. Have you talked to your vet about whether a change in diet might make control easier?
posted by phearlez at 2:19 PM on April 24, 2012

I had friends who built a giant litter-box for their dog. The dog had bowel control but couldn't go outside over the winter due to other issues. The dog used it faithfully and they were happy with their solution.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 5:56 PM on April 24, 2012

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