Why Do Dogs Take So Long to Poop? [Explained]

Is your dog taking forever to poop? While such behavior can be alarming, it is usually nothing to worry about. There are a few why dogs take so long to poop, though it’s essential to understand what’s leading to the delay and whether it is a sign of something serious.

why do dogs take so long to poop
Why do dogs take so long to poop?

Here are the most common reasons your dog is not pooping as fast as you expect:

Their Digestive System Needs Time

Every dog is different. Some dogs have quick digestive systems, and they will poop within an hour or two after eating. On the other hand, some dogs can take four hours or even more to poop. 

That’s why it’s important not to compare one dog to another. In particular, older dogs tend to poop quicker and more often. So, if you used to have an older dog and got a new, younger one, it might seem like your new dog is taking forever to poop.

However, that could be within the normal range for them. 

when does puppy poop become solid
When does puppy poop become solid?

They Haven’t Eaten Enough

If your dog isn’t eating enough, they may take a while to poop. It’s critical to ensure that you are feeding your dog well. If you’re unsure whether your dog is getting enough to eat, consult a vet for advice on how often and how much to feed your furry friend. 

dog feeding bowl
Dog holds feeding bowl through his mouth.

They Need a Diet Change

Your dog might need to eat food that contains more fiber. A diet lacking in fiber can lead to difficulty pooping. Yes, dogs can have constipation, just like humans.

Usually, by including more fiber in your dog’s diet, you can prevent constipation. Adding some vegetables to your dog’s meals can help, or you can look for dog food that contains added fiber. 

Your dog’s diet should also have enough moisture. If it is too dry, your dog might have difficulty defecating. You can add a bit of warm water to wet your dog’s snacks and meals.

Also, make sure your dog is getting enough to drink

If you aren’t sure how much fiber and moisture your dog needs, always consult with a vet. 

switching diets
Switching dog food diets

They Have an Obstructed Bowel

This problem is more common among puppies. Young dogs often eat anything they come across, especially if they don’t have the life experience to know what’s harmful to their stomachs. Your dog can eat cotton balls, hair, small toys, foam, and other indigestible items. 

When your dog eats things that aren’t food, they may have a rough time pooping. Call a vet immediately if you suspect your dog swallowed something harmful and has an obstructed bowel. Sometimes, your dog will be able to poop it out with time, but it’s better not to take any chances. 

a puppy sitting on a deck with a tug toy
This puppy LOVES his tug toy!

They Have a Spinal Injury

It’s not a common reason why dogs take so long to poop, but if your dog has a spinal cord injury, it may interfere with their ability to relieve themselves. 

According to the Canine Spinal Cord Injury Consortium, the degree to which a spinal cord injury will affect your dog’s gastrointestinal system depends on factors such as how severe the damage is and where along the spinal cord it is. 

It’s easy to overlook the effects of such injuries on your dog’s pooping schedule, but a vet will be able to help. 

Cockapoo on the floor
Cockapoo lying on the floor.

They Are Shy 

Would you feel comfortable pooping when other people are watching? You may have seen the memes showing two toilets facing each other in a public bathroom. It’s obvious that would be uncomfortable. 

Dogs are no different. Some dogs have no problems defecating in front of other dogs, their owners, and even strangers. Other dogs, on the other hand, get shy when they need to poop and people are around. They might be unable to poop and may wait until they can get some private time alone in your backyard. 

You can usually train your dog to get more comfortable pooping around other people. However, that can take time, so be patient with your dog. Remember, each dog has a unique personality. 

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

Your Dog Is Stressed or Anxious

Most people are used to dogs pooping a lot when they’re stressed or anxious. Most of the time, anxiety leads to diarrhea and a lack of bowel control. That’s why your dog might get severe separation anxiety and start pooping all over the house when you leave them alone.

However, in some instances, extreme stress can have the opposite effect and lead to constipation. You may have noticed that you have digestion problems when you are under a lot of stress. Dogs are like humans in that regard. 

Your pet might have difficulty digesting their food. That can lead to increased waste and constipation. 

What might be stressing your dog? A physical illness can sometimes be a causing factor. However, your dog might also react that way in a new environment.

For example, if you are moving homes or traveling, it’s normal for your dog to experience significant stress. The same applies when a new dog or child joins the family. 

Pomeranian anxious looking
Pomeranian is anxious looking on the floor.

They Don’t Want To Go Back Inside

Some dogs learn quickly that after pooping, they will have to go back inside immediately. If you usually take your dog to the backyard to poop and take them right back in once they poop, your dog might push off the pooping so they don’t have to go back inside. 

Dogs are clever! They learn ways to get what they want. One way to deal with this issue is to stop taking your dog back inside right after pooping.

Give them some time so they don’t associate pooping with going inside. 

old woman with a beagle
A Beagle refuses to go home.

They Are Accustomed To Pooping in Specific Spots

Some dogs are more comfortable pooping in certain spots. In addition, some are more comfortable pooping on certain surfaces, like lush grass. Every dog is different, and yours might delay pooping until they get to a spot they are comfortable pooping on.

Some dogs even like to align themselves with the earth’s magnetic field before pooping. 

These habits and preferences develop from an early age. Sometimes, it can depend on your dog’s breed. If you got your dog later in life, you might have to get used to its pooping preferences. 

puppy owner picks poop
An owner picks up her puppy’s poop in the garden.

They Are Communicating With Other Dogs

For dogs, pooping is a lot more than just relieving themselves. Your dog can use their poop to communicate with other dogs. It could be a way of marking their territory or telling other dogs about themselves.

Poop can inform your dogs about other dogs that are in heat or are friendly. Your dog can pick up on a lot of information by smelling and sniffing the poop of other dogs. 

Pooping can be complex, so don’t try to rush or pressure your dog to poop. 

two labradoodles in the dog park
Two Labradoodles sniff each other out at a dog park.

Final Thoughts

If your dog takes longer than usual to poop, it doesn’t always mean something is wrong. Your dog might be stalling to spend more time outside, or they might be waiting until a stranger (such as your new friend) goes away. 

Sometimes, however, the reason why dogs take so long to poop may be because they are constipated or have an injury. Taking your dog to a vet can help you discover whether that’s the issue.