Dog poops in the house. Is crating the only option?
September 25, 2012 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Aside from crating her, is there any way to keep our dog from pooping on the carpet while we're gone during the day?

We let our three-year-old female Great Dane mix out every morning before we leave, and one of us comes home at lunch every day to let her out again. But two or three times each week we come home at lunch to a pile on the carpet, and it's always in the same place. She never pees in the house.

When we first got her two years ago we'd either leave her in our backyard or crate her during the day, mostly because she was a chewer and a cat-chaser (two habits she's outgrown). We'd like to keep her in the house during the day, but are really tired of spending half our lunch hour picking up after her and scrubbing the carpet.

Do we need to go back to crating her again, or is there something else we can try to discourage the behavior? I'd rather not leave her outside. Thanks!
posted by DakotaPaul to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What are you scrubbing the carpet with? If you're not using a specialty cleaner like Nature's Miracle, you could be leaving phantom odors only the dog can smell, that are telling her that its okay to poop there.
posted by griphus at 1:44 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Can you babygate her somewhere with tile so that if she does go, it's at least one tile? She still has some freedom of movement, but she's also prevented from getting to carpeted areas and depositing.
posted by Leezie at 1:44 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I realize great danes are gigantic, but is there a way you could cordon her off in a non-carpeted section of the house using an x-pen or a gate? It'll give her a little more relaxing/play room than just a crate, but the smaller area might make her more reluctant to poop on the floor. And even if she does, it'll be easier to clean up.

She's super cute, btw.
posted by phunniemee at 1:44 PM on September 25, 2012

When our dogs do this, it's generally because it's raining outside, so they haven't gone in the morning.

We have a fenced in backyard and just let them out, so it's not as easy to track whether or not they've gone, like we used to when we walked them. Can you walk her in the mornings, and make sure that she goes?
posted by needlegrrl at 1:56 PM on September 25, 2012

have you actually house trained her? do you walk her in the morning? if she's still pooping in the house after only a few hours, it doesn't sound like she knows that she's supposed to poop outside. if she spent the first two years of her life either in the back yard or in the crate, she might not have a clear idea of the concept of "inside" and "outside" and where it's acceptable to do her business.
posted by violetk at 1:57 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you walk her in the morning to get her on a morning walk poop cycle? A dog like that would love a good morning walk
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 1:58 PM on September 25, 2012

Thanks for the responses so far.

We use a couple different things on the carpet, including Resolve (some pet-stain specific variety), ewww, or Folex. Is Nature's Miracle different from ewww?

Cordoning her might be feasible, but she has a respectable high jump and your average baby gate or x-pen wouldn't work. There's a half bathroom we could put her in but I'm not sure how to close it off other than shutting the door, and I'm afraid she'd scratch the door up. She's not a destructive dog, but it's been a while since she's been locked up regularly and I don't know how she'd take to it.
posted by DakotaPaul at 1:59 PM on September 25, 2012

Of the cleaners you've listed, ewww is the only enyzme cleaner, which is what you need to get rid of odors dogs can detect. I'd try switching brands, just to see if it helps. Worst case scenario, you have twice as much cleaner to use.
posted by griphus at 2:04 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Er, Nature's Miracle is also an enzyme cleaner. So you don't necessarily have to switch to it, but I'd specifically look for that, rather than an all-purpose cleaner or cleaner meant to get pet stains out rather than odors.
posted by griphus at 2:05 PM on September 25, 2012

Just a suggestion but sometimes dogs don't poop in the morning without a little encouragement to get their systems going. Maybe instead of just letting her out you could take her for a quick 10 minute or so walk to help get things moving and make sure she's had a poop in the morning. We sometimes go out and throw a ball around for our dogs if we are leaving them for the day as it does the same thing. Also dogs tend to poop after eating so if you are giving her breakfast I'd make doubly sure to walk her to make sure she's gone.

Also she has the cutest face I love the orange eyes with the dark mask around them, it really makes them stand out.
posted by wwax at 2:15 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

One thing I've noticed in switching our dog from a mid-grade food (wellness) to a super-premium one (evo) is that her poops are much smaller and better-formed (and she eats much less) presumably because there are fewer fillers in the food. Switching to a higher-grade food might reduce your dog's need to poop.
posted by Scientist at 2:16 PM on September 25, 2012

My dog has to run around to get things moving so to speak so either she runs around the yard on her own or I take her for a short walk to a place she can run around each morning.
posted by fshgrl at 2:20 PM on September 25, 2012

When you let her out and watch that she poops? If not, she may not be going. Walking would be a way to ensure she goes. The dog trainer I worked with said dogs will want to poop 20 minutes or so after eating. So maybe work that into your routine.
posted by cecic at 2:24 PM on September 25, 2012

Nthing that our greyhound used to have to run some laps around the yard and then trot here and there a bit prior to his walk....and usually after that he'd amble over to the gate, waiting for me to leash him and take him for his walk. Of course it was never until we were about three blocks away that his poop muscles finally got stimulated enough for him to perform. On the sidewalk. In front of traffic (ever see a greyhound attempt to semi-squat? It's obvious what he's up to). I always carried a proper scoop bag to clean up with, but it appeared that Trai needed X amount of physical exercise before he could do his duty.

When he got older and couldn't hold things for as many hours as he could when he was younger, we placed some puppy training pads on the kitchen floor and he used them without prompting.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:25 PM on September 25, 2012

Ps- when she poops outside, be sure to reward her. Throw her a praise party so she associates going outside with good stuff. And use the same word for it when you are encouraging/praising her (like potty or something). Eventually, you can get her to recognize that it's time to go when you say the word.
posted by cecic at 2:27 PM on September 25, 2012

I like the "get things moving" idea, and she certainly loves to run every chance she gets.

She typically gets fed just before we walk out the door in the morning, so we'll try feeding her when we get up.

And since we're running low on carpet cleaners we'll pick up some Nature's Miracle, too.

Thanks for the suggestions!
posted by DakotaPaul at 2:28 PM on September 25, 2012

Also, does she definitely poop every morning? (I don't think your question says whether this is the case.) If not, she might need to be walked/let out for a longer time. Heck, my dog will usually poop twice on a walk if you walk her for long enough. Even if your dog is already pooping in the morning, you might need to give her more time so that she can get everything out.
posted by Scientist at 2:31 PM on September 25, 2012

I leave my dog inside all day but he gets a walk every morning. We walk until he poops. (My dog is a giant breed too.) We're usually outside 20 to 30 minutes, normally we walk 10 to 15 minutes in one direction and then back. On a good walk he poops twice.
posted by shoesietart at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2012

What do you mean you "let her out"? Does she get an actual walk? If not, that's a good place to start.
posted by halogen at 3:53 PM on September 25, 2012

Awesome suggestions for feeding her earlier and short brisk morning walks. However, if she doesn't stop this behavior within a week or so, I'd return to crating her until she gets the new routine down. She's learned to poop on the carpet, in the same spot, and breaking her of it might be difficult without taking advantage of her natural affinity for dens and a general dislike of eliminating where she sleeps.
posted by xyzzy at 4:18 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I prefer the Kids'n'Pets cleaner to Nature's Miracle. Just works better in my experience.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:12 PM on September 25, 2012

Take her for a walk every morning. When she poops outdoors, give a loving "good dog, poop outside" and sometimes a treat. It helps reinforce the desired behavior.
posted by theora55 at 6:15 PM on September 25, 2012

She typically gets fed just before we walk out the door in the morning...

Well no wonder the poor girl needs to poo halfway through the morning! Yes, she needs to be fed, allowed to have some time to digest, then walked long enough to do her business. If it means getting up a half hour earlier, you may have to do this. If that's not possible, you could put her on evening feedings only. I know plenty of dogs that get their meal once a day. (All of them are good weights, as opposed to the obese free choicers.)

If you want to keep her in a small room, and you're worried about her scratching up the door, why don't you put up a barrier? If you attached plexiglass to the door it would preserve the door and not look too terrible.

I'm not sure why you're adverse to crating her. Being able to come home at lunch to let her out is great. Danes are fairly laid back, and she would most likely just hang out and sleep. The time you're spending now could be spent in a brisk walk or some romping. You certainly would need the right size crate for the job. Having a folding crate for that large of a dog is a blessing--you can fold it away when you need to, or for travel. I bet your dog would be thrilled if you put a large sheet over the top to make it more cave-like.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:58 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good suggestions above. Bear in mind that crating isn't a punishment and should not be used as such. That's doggie's personal space. Think of it like a wolf den. The dog should feel safe and secure there. Proper crating can even help alleviate anxieties in dogs.

A few rules from the various trainers we've associated with while matching wits & wills with our 2-year-old drama queen Doberman.
  • If the dog makes a mistake, it is your fault not the dog's.
  • Bear in mind that puppies will poo in their crates if they are too big, for example. I guess they think they can keep it far enough away to make it OK. It is possible your dog feels the same way with the house.
  • No unsupervised access to the house until he proves trustworthy.
  • Everything the dog gets must be earned, even if just by sitting on command. No free lunches (or treats).
  • Until the dog can be trusted out-of-sight, keep him under your direct control, either on a lead or in a pen or some other barrier.
  • One trainer always rewards poo with treats, forever. I don't (she gets plenty of that) but I do always give happy "good potty!" praise.
I would definitely crate the dog while working to get this under control.

P.S. We use Nature's Miracle on all sorts of protein-based carpet issues with excellent results. Employ a black light to help target the precise locations needing treatment.
posted by trinity8-director at 8:07 PM on September 25, 2012

i prefer pure ayre to nature's miracle. it's got a clean, fresh scent and it's more eco.
posted by violetk at 8:27 PM on September 25, 2012

I'm dealing with this problem with a foster dog who, for various reasons, we cannot crate when we leave. 1) As mentioned, cordoning off if possible to a room she uses a lot. There are high baby gates that even a Great Dane would probably have trouble jumping, or make your own barrier out of chairs, boxes, whatever. 2) Spending a lot of time and/or feeding her where she usually poops while you're gone. If your dog is like mine, she tries to poop in out of the way places she doesn't think of as her "home." For us it's under the piano, so I've started feeding her there and generally spending more time there with her. Try to expand her "home" to the whole house, not just well-traveled areas. Dogs generally don't like to poop where they eat and sleep. Good luck, I've been there!
posted by walla at 7:13 AM on September 26, 2012

Dogs will poop on a schedule if you take walks and provide food on a regular schedule, pretty much. I'd agree with the people saying that you need to do walks in the morning until she poops. You might also want to do a walk after work until she poops, or a walk right before bed if she doesn't poop in the afternoon. If you are conscientious about this you will notice her body's schedule. Also, give her some praise when she goes outside rather than in the house.

Oh also! Try to keep to the same schedule on the weekends, walking-and-feeding-wise. Dogs don't understand about weekends, and if she's pooping on a schedule during the week everything might go to hell if you change things up on the weekends.
posted by zoetrope at 2:28 PM on September 26, 2012

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