How To Punish Your Dog for Pooping in the House?

Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Veterinarian Charlotte Stiles (DVM)


When you welcomed a dog into your family, you knew there would be fur to vacuum and drool marks to mop off your floor. However, you understandably expected to clean up after your dog’s poop in your yard, not on your brand new carpet.

Pooping in the house is a serious issue and one that you need to address with your dog immediately.

how to punish your dog for pooping in the house
How to punish your dog for pooping in the house?

I’ve had dogs all my life and know what it’s like to go through this frustrating and smelly process. So, I’ll give you my top tips on how to punish dogs for pooping in the house.

Humanely Punishing Your Dog for Pooping in the House

“Punishment” is a strong word, so let me start with this—I never advocate for using harsh, inhumane punishment methods with your dog. Instead, using positive reinforcement techniques is not only a kinder approach, but it’s more effective for getting your dog to change their behavior.

So, below are the best strategies for effectively and humanely punishing your dog for pooping in the house.

The Best Option: Ignore Them

Dogs crave human attention, with studies even showing that their oxytocin levels increase when they stare into their owner’s eyes. So, if you find poop in the house, don’t make a big deal out of it.

Instead, move them to another room, clean it up, and go about your day without showering them with extra attention. Your dog will notice your change in behavior, and if you stay consistent with this method, they should soon realize that they get a cold shoulder from you when they poop in the house.

dog poops in house after being outside
Help! My dog poops in house after being outside.

An Alternative Option: Point Out the Poop

Yes, I’m aware that this option contradicts the first option. And the reason I labeled it as “alternative” is that the verdict is still out on how effective this method is.

However, this strategy is no doubt more intuitive—it involves showing your dog their poop and then immediately taking them outside to the area where they usually go to the bathroom (assuming they’ve used your yard as a bathroom in the past).

The trick is to remain calm during this process. If you yell at your dog or shove their face in the poop, it’ll make them afraid of you. 

Boston Terrier sitting with owner
Boston Terrier sitting with his owner on a couch.

Why Your Dog Poops in the House?

Knowing how to punish dogs for pooping in the house is essential, but it’s no replacement for getting to the bottom of the why behind the behavior.

Some of the most common reasons that dogs poop in the house include:

  • Health issues.
  • Dietary change.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • They need potty training.
  • They’re seeking attention.
  • You leave them in the house too long.
  • Age (older dogs may not have as much bowel control).

The moral of the story is that your dog is likely pooping in the house because of something you are (or aren’t) doing or for reasons out of their control, such as age or illness. 

So, instead of focusing your attention on punishing your dog for pooping in the house, it’ll be more effective to understand the cause and seek out solutions to fix it.

8 Strategies for Stopping Your Dog From Pooping in the House

Below are some of the best methods for encouraging your dog to poop in the yard rather than on your kitchen floor.

1. Don’t Make a Big Deal Out of It

Assuming you didn’t yell or hit your dog for pooping in the house (again, please don’t do this), they may like the attention they got for doing so. Now, I’m not implying that you’re cooing at your dog for being the most adorable pet on the planet as you scrape poop out of the grains in your wood floor.

However, if your dog interprets your concern over their poop and your talk with them about how they shouldn’t go inside the house as something good, they may repeat the behavior in hopes of receiving the same attention again.

Boston Terrier looks scared in blanket
Boston Terrier looks scared in a red blanket.

2. Clean the Poop Well

Disinfectant soap and water go a long way toward removing your dog’s poop from the floor, but your dog has over 100 million sensory receptor sites in their nose. In contrast, you only have six million.

That means your dog will be able to smell their poop even when the sweet smell of your honeysuckle soap radiates from the floor. 

Since dogs tend to defecate in the same area, you’re unknowingly encouraging them to poop on your floor again. Therefore, use a special deodorizer made for pets. That way, it’ll break down the poop enzymes, making it impossible for your dog to smell where they had their accident.

floor cleaning
Floor cleaning after dog poop!

3. Take Them Outside Regularly

If you have a young puppy, they’ll need to go outside at least once every two hours to relieve themselves. 

In contrast, healthy adult dogs have better bladder and bowel movement control, requiring going outside 3 – 5 times per day to use the bathroom. 

“Taking your dog outside for toilet breaks regularly and training them from an early age are good ways to avoid accidents.”

Veterinarian Dr Charlotte Stiles (DVM)

Of course, it’s unlikely they’ll poop each of those times. However, I encourage you to keep an eye on your dog when they’re outside so that you can observe whether they pooped. That way, you can anticipate if they might need to go out again at a slightly later time.

woman walking with poodle
A woman walking with her cute poodle on the road.

4. Prepare Them for the Weather

Can you imagine pooping outside in two feet of snow or during a rainstorm? Your dog might not want to imagine it either, so they might decide to use your house as their restroom in poor weather conditions.

Instead of throwing up your hands at these times, prepare your dog for the outdoors instead. If it’s cold out and they have thin fur, bundle them up in a jacket. Boots are also helpful for all dogs to prevent them from getting frostbite

Alternatively, if rain is a recurring issue where you live, consider setting up a little tent in your backyard so that your dog has a more comfortable place to do their business.

best French Bulldog shoes
What are the best French Bulldog shoes?

5. Let Them Stay Outside Longer

Even if you give your dog their recommended amount of exercise per day, it might not be enough time for them to poop. That’s especially the case if they spend it at a dog park or another place where distractions are abundant.

So, if your dog commonly poops inside shortly after being outside, you likely need to give them more quality poop time outside.

By “quality,” I mean taking them to a quiet area as free as possible of noise and animals. Then, practice patience as they smell around, and hold your breath when they set up to do the long-awaited poop squat.

Poodles playing at the park
Two Poodles are playing at the park.

6. Offer Them a Different Pooping Surface

Many dogs gravitate towards grass, dirt, or bedding like pine needles to poop when given a choice. 

So, if you live in a concrete jungle and the only place you’re taking your dog to poop involves surfaces like asphalt or stone, they might hold back their poop until they arrive at your house, where they have a relatively more comfortable surface to poop.

Therefore, even if it means driving your dog to a park where they have different, more natural surfaces to poop, do so and see if it fixes their pooping in the house.

owner waits dog poop
The owner waits for her dog to poop on the grass.

7. Don’t Rely on Their Crate

Despite dog owners having varying opinions on the ethical nature behind keeping dogs in crates, the clubs stand by the many benefits crates offer dogs. Among these benefits is that it can help dogs hold in their pee and poop, given that they don’t want to soil the area where they sleep.

While crates undoubtedly serve a helpful purpose for potty training and preventing accidents around your house when you’re not home, it’s easy to misuse them.

So, if you keep your dog in a crate, it’s crucial to keep track of the time and let them outside regularly to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom. Otherwise, you can expect to clean up poop messes inside their crate, perhaps even those that require a bath for your dog.

German Shepherd puppy in its crate
A German Shepherd puppy in its crate.

8. Take Them to the Vet

If your dog is getting older and suddenly starts pooping in the house or if you notice a dog of any age displaying odd behaviors, including repeated indoor pooping, schedule a vet appointment.

Some of the most common medical reasons that a dog poops in the house include:

  • Parasites
  • Food allergies
  • Virus or infection
  • Stomach flu

The good news is that veterinarians can treat the health issue that causes most dogs to poop in the house so that you can go back to cohabitating with your potty-trained pooch.

vet examines Doberman
Vet examines a Doberman at the clinic.

The Bottom Line

Knowing how to punish dogs for pooping in house is a surface-level issue, as the most effective way to stop your dog from indoor pooping is to figure out what’s causing them to do it in the first place.

By observing your dog, trying some of the methods I described here, and taking them to the vet if you believe a health problem could be at play, you should soon enjoy a poop-free home.