Best way to handle large, incontinent dogs?
June 23, 2015 6:36 PM   Subscribe

I live with an assortment of 3 large, indoor dogs that belong to various roommates. One or more of them has started pooping in the house on a regular basis. What, if anything can be done about this?

They've all been previously blocked from the carpeted areas of the house, luckily most of our house is linoleum flooring. They've all been to the vet, and nothing 'wrong' has been found. They're in the 6-9 year old age range, and all have previously been house broken. We've all lived in the same house for years, nobody's routine (human or dog) has changed recently. I finally convinced the roommates to buy puppy pads, which were used today for the first time, partially successfully. Between the 3 dogs, there is only one crate. Starting tomorrow, the dog most suspected is getting crated in hopes that we can prove which one it is doing the deed (he'll get crated this week, if we don't have a perpetrator, a different one will get crated next week and so on.) They eat in the morning, and one of the 2 owners has a flexible work schedule and is able to come home for lunch around 1pm, but there's almost always a mess by the time I get home at 5.
What's the best way to train/encourage them to use the puppy pads?
Once we know which one it is, are there any specific tests we should ask the vet to run?
Can you think of anything else that can be done to help? Ideally, I'd like there not to be any poop on the floor, ever, but I realize that might not be an option.

Note: I'm not the owner of any of them. They all get the same high quality food, and their diets haven't changed in at least 6 months. While we do have a fenced yard, leaving them outside while we're not home is not an option.
posted by csox to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Also, I just created a imgur account for this very question, so if the links don't work please let me know/advise me how to fix.
posted by csox at 6:52 PM on June 23, 2015

My experience with deterring errant peeing/pooping is with cats, not dogs. But if I have a cat that goes to the bathroom outside its litterbox once, sometimes it will keep on going there until I nuke the area with bleach and/or Nature's Miracle. They smell their waste in that area, they think "Hey, this is the place to pee!" and keep on going there. Could be the same situation with dogs. Someone had an accident and that gave everyone else the idea to start peeing around the house.
posted by schroedinger at 6:56 PM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

schroedinger is right. Dogs like hitting up the same shit spots. You need to nuke the are with an enzymatic cleanser like Nature's Miracle so it doesn't smell like the familiar pooping place any more.

Also spend some time on positive reinforcement, rewarding the dogs with treats when they go outside where they're supposed to.

Can't help you with the puppy pads, unfortunately. My dog is litter box trained and that started basically the day he was born. But that was pretty easy since it's trivial to pick up a puppy and drop him in a box. Just keep up the positive reinforcement stuff and hopefully they'll catch on.
posted by phunniemee at 7:07 PM on June 23, 2015

Don't feed them in the morning, feed them when (whomever) gets home from work. Let them out 20-30 minutes after they eat, and take them for a walk before bed. They shouldn't be full of food when no one's home.
posted by desjardins at 7:10 PM on June 23, 2015

Large meals can put dogs at risk for bloat, so if any of these three are bloat-prone breeds (I haven't looked at the photo) please don't do the once-a-day feeding that desjardins suggests.

Even if none of them are bloat-prone breeds, and you do decide to change their feeding schedule, please be sure to make the changes in a healthy, safe way. That probably means making gradual changes, not fast ones, but IANAV.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:22 PM on June 23, 2015

If you want to identify the stealth-pooper without the stress of crating one out of the three, then feed the most likely suspect a little canned corn with their dinner. It's not harmful but it's not digestible and will work in that, well... well... you'll see the evidence in the evidence.
posted by peagood at 7:23 PM on June 23, 2015 [8 favorites]

Just to be clear, I think it's an old-age/physical problem, not a behavioral problem. We've bleachwiped AND nature miracle'd the bejeezus out of the area, but I think the architecture of the house/arrangement of the furniture will lead them back to the same general area. Which at least lets us know where to put the puppypad to catch it.
Changing their feeding time may very well be part of the solution. They're just fed once, in the morning, but I can talk to their owners about changing the time or feeding them two smaller meals in the morning/at night.
The breeds are a pit bull/something furry mix, yellow lab, and a lab/great dane mix. I suspect the great dane is to blame, but he's the most comfortable in the crate, and so will be the first one to be crated.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far/please add more if you've got them!
posted by csox at 7:32 PM on June 23, 2015

Natures miracle (all strengths) has not worked at all for us. Watching this thread to see if anyone has any better solutions.
posted by pearlybob at 8:11 PM on June 23, 2015

As others have said changing the feeding time, or making sure the dogs poop before you leave for walk will help with the pooping side of things. Dogs like to poop after eating.

If one or more of the dogs are incontinent you get cloth (or disposable) belly bands for male dogs, that basically wrap around their waists & catch the pee much like a diaper and actual diapers for girls. Washable ones work out cheaper but you do have to wash them but throwing them in a wash with some oxyclean is super easy, way easier than cleaning pee up off the floor, I used to have a bucket with a lid I stuck them in until I got a load. Not all dogs like wearing them though and you do have to watch out for irritation/nappy rash, though only using them when no one is home, using a clean one everday etc will help.
posted by wwax at 8:13 PM on June 23, 2015

Feeding them their kibble in a slow-feeder bowl will probably help with the bloat issue. With cats they say to nuke the soiled area with whatever cleaners, and then feed the cats there, so they learn that's a food area, not a washroom. Not sure if same will help with dogs though.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:26 PM on June 23, 2015

A belly band or diaper is probably not going to work as a long-term solution. It might work as a temporary training aid. If the dog feels any discomfort walking around with poop in its diaper, it's going to make a much worse mess trying to get it off then it would by just pooping on the floor.

csox, once you figure out the offender, and assuming there aren't any serious medical issues pointing to a cause, I would ask the vet about dietary changes. Can you add/remove some fiber? Get them to increase/decrease water intake? Add/remove chicken or rice or bananas to/from their diets - either in their regular food or as treats? Change to a different brand of dog food (gradually)?

If it's just an old age thing, and you can't work your schedules to walk them any more frequently, you (or the dogs' owners) could hire someone to check in on them at times you can't do it.

And definitely check on the different formulations of Nature's Miracle. And maybe add OxiClean to your cleaning arsenal. I've had good luck with that as well.

Great Dane dumps - good grief. My sympathies...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:40 AM on June 24, 2015

I agree that it's likely an age thing, but it's also probably a being fed and walked improperly thing. Dogs that had greater capacity to hold it when younger can often lose that ability as they age, so meals should be followed by an opportunity to relieve themselves. If no major medical problems have been identified, they'd probably benefit from being fed a couple of times a day (once a day feedings are unnecessarily risky due to bloat) and being walked immediately after. Adjust their feeding and walking schedules and this issue will likely fix itself.
posted by quince at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Been there, done that with large senior dogs.... some housebroken dogs act ashamed when they can't hold it until they can get outside.

If you can change them to a higher protein, lower fiber diet that will help. That will reduce the amount of poop produced

The best thing I did for my older dogs was to put in a giant dog door so they could go out as needed. Check out or

posted by IpsoFacto at 3:29 PM on June 24, 2015

pearlybob, Nature's Miracle only works for me if I soak the crap out of whatever I'm trying to clean. Like, "the carpet is squishy wet" or "the pillow is dripping" soaked. Spraying what I would to wipe a surface down or clean something normally never seems to work. So if you haven't been spending a half-bottle on a single spot, that may be the issue.

I prefer bleach for anything that can tolerate bleach. It's much cheaper.
posted by schroedinger at 9:50 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks schroedinger. I'll try using small, young dog and only on place in the house but it is getting old!! And he goes outside all the time. I think it's a battle of wills at this point!
posted by pearlybob at 8:13 AM on June 27, 2015

For Great Dane behavior and mishaps, you can learn tons of helpful hints and how-to's at the web site . It should help with the other dogs but especially for the quirky behaviors of the great dane. It helped me a lot with mine.
And you're right about it maybe being an 'age thing' since danes age out much quicker than smaller dogs. 6-9 can be senior for a dane.
posted by donaken at 6:10 PM on June 27, 2015

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