Why do puppies poop so much? Let’s face it, puppies are pooping machines. Many new puppy owners are often amazed of the amount of poop a teeny tiny puppy may produce. They always end up not buying enough paper towels to clean up messes and are always short of disinfectants. Oh, and what about air refreshers? A pup’s poop can stink up a whole room enough to have people’s eyes tearing, so better stock up on sprays that smells like roses or spring. But why do puppies poop so much? You look at your puppy and then you look at the piles of poop he produces and you nod your head in disbelief as things don’t seem to add up!
A Matter of Diet
Is your pup’s stool volume the issue? Believe it or not, the food you are feeding your puppy may play a big role into stool volume. If you are feeding a cheap food that contains fillers such as corn or wheat at the top of the list of ingredients, these will cause your puppy to produce lots of poop because too much fiber leads to increased stool volume.
Not only, because the fiber interferes with your puppy’s ability to absorb essential fatty acids and essential minerals, your pup’s coat and skin may start looking shabby too, explains Lisa Weeth, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in nutrition. You may therefore want to talk to your vet or a veterinary nutritionist about perhaps gradually switching to a higher protein diet that has a lower level of fiber. With less fillers and more quality product, your puppy should absorb more and excrete less.
“Lower cost pet foods tend to have higher proportions of corn and wheat since these grains are also less expensive than animal protein. Too much fiber can increase the volume of stool, making your Yorkie poop like a Labrador.” ~Lisa P. Weeth
The Growth Factor
Are you wondering why dogs poop so often? There’s a good reason why puppies may poop more often and that reason is growth. Just like human babies who are fed every couple of hours, puppies are fed more often than the average adult dog. Generally, an adult dog is fed twice a day, whereas, a young puppy may be fed about 3 to 6 times a day depending on age. Puppies have a high metabolism and are growing which takes a lot of energy. On top of that, puppies have very small stomachs, so they’ll need small, more frequent meals during the day which translates into more frequent poops. Follow your vet’s advice on how much to feed your puppy.
Warning! “For large-breed puppies, over nutrition or rapid growth—with weight more than height—along with excess calcium and genetics are the primary risk factors for developmental orthopedic diseases.” ~ Dr. Dana Hutchinson, veterinary nutritionist.
A Medical Condition
If your dog is suddenly pooping a whole lot more than he normally does, you are right to be concerned. There may be something medically going on. Colitis, the inflammation of the colon, is a common cause for increased pooping and stool volume leading to soft poops. This inflammation may be caused by several reasons such as a dietary indiscretion, but in a puppy it could often be also triggered by intestinal parasites or the presence of protozoan parasites such as giardia and coccidia, explains Critical Care Vet, an Emergency and Critical Care Specialist.
A good place to start would be having the puppy’s stool sample examined by a vet. All you need to do is collect a fresh same-day sample, place it in a paper lunch bag, label it with your puppy’s name, date collected and contact info and then drop it off to the vet. If your puppy is acting sick though or there is blood in dog stool, see your vet immediately, there are many serious disease in pups and parvo virus is one of them.
Why do puppies hide to poop? So you have noticed a new trend, the moment you are out of sight, your puppy manages to poop behind the couch or under the bed, what gives? This behavior is not all that uncommon. Many puppy owners claim that their puppies sneak away to poop “on spite” and that when they are caught in the act, their puppies acknowledge their wrongdoing and “act guilty.” Other puppy owners may believe their puppies have a sense of modesty or shame, so they hide to poop so they can do their things in privacy. Well, these are our human interpretations of what’s going on, but things can be quite different from our puppy’s perspective. Understanding why puppies hide to poop in the first place is important so we can take a more positive approach to potty training.
A History of Punishment
One main reason puppies may hide to poop is because they were punished in the past for doing the deed. If you have been pushing your pup’s head into a pile of poop as you scold him, stop! If you have been hitting your puppy’s rump with a newspaper, stop! If you have been going ballistic and acting angry with your puppy when he has accident, stop!
What do all these harsh techniques train your puppy? To fear you. These methods not only put a dent in earning your puppy’s trust, but will also backfire as your puppy risks becoming fearful of pooping in your presence, so don’t be surprised if he’ll sneak away and do the deed out of sight.
Sensitive to Displeasure
Some puppy owners say: “My puppy hides to poop, but I never hit him with a newspaper, nor did I ever shove his face in a pile of poop.” Let’s face it, puppies are sensitive creatures and even though they may not be punished harshly, they can be intimidated by some of our reactions. You may not physically punish your puppy, but your body language speaks volumes when you’re upset about something.
So if you ever caught your puppy in the act of pooping and got up suddenly and stomped your feet, clapped your hands or manifested some sort of anger, frustration or displeasure, your puppy may have been startled so don’t be surprised if he decides that it’s safer to poop behind the couch next time so to avoid all that commotion. After pooping behind the couch not only does the puppy feel relief from emptying his bowels (pooping is self -reinforcing as it makes the sensation of fullness go away) but he also feels good because he’s away from the owner’s presence and nothing bad happens! Double relief!
Normal Puppy Instinct
What if you never really did anything that would startle, intimidate or make your puppy fearful of you when he had an accident? If so, kudos to you! You are on the right track! In such a case, you may want to re-evaluate your pup’s environment so to make him more successful. Puppies have an instinct to soil away from their eating, drinking, sleeping and playing areas.
So if your puppy repeatedly soils in a corner or farthest area of a room, it could be he is simply adhering to this instinct. This is not a bad thing. It’s actually thanks to this instinct that pups can be potty trained using a puppy apartment, crate, exercise pen or enclosed area of home. You may therefore consider keeping an eye on your puppy when he moves to these areas so you can redirect him quickly outside or another option is to remove furniture that blocks your view so you can always actively supervise your puppy. A third option is to make the areas your puppy frequents smaller so you can more accurately monitor for pre-potty signs (whining, sniffing, stop playing) suggesting it’s time to take your puppy outside.
Suppression of Potty Signs
Punishing a puppy for pooping in the home has many negative effects. As mentioned, it can put a big dent in earning the puppy’s trust and it triggers a puppy to seek out areas that are out of the owner’s sight because the act of pooping and/or the presence of the owner may been associated with punishment. On top of that, punishments also risks suppressing those important pre-potty signs that are crucial for successful potty training. Because the puppy has associated going potty with punishment, next time Nature calls, instead of whining, sniffing, circling or going to the door, the puppy instead rushes behind the couch when the owner is away or not actively looking. Owners of such dogs are therefore at a disadvantage, which sets the puppy for failure.
Problems Down the Road
But wait, there’s more! Owners who regularly punish their puppies for soiling in the home (and other behaviors) may evoke another behavior problem which is not related to potty training: submissive urination. It goes something like this: the owner finds the poop behind the couch several minutes after the deed. He sees the puppy and tells him in an accusatory tone: “You sneaky, bad puppy!” accompanied by nervous, intimidating body language. The puppy shows appeasement gestures such as ears back, tail between the legs, lowered body posture, not because he feels guilty, but simply because he feels intimidated and is trying to calm down the owner. In puppy language, he may be saying something in the terms of “please don’t hurt me!”
The puppy owner though takes this body language as proof of guilt which makes him even more upset as he thinks on the terms of “you sneaky brat, you knew this was bad, but you decided to do it anyway out of spite!” After several reps of this scenario, the puppy may start to urinate submissively at the first signs of anger (an instinctual way puppies manifest appeasement) and soon a vicious cycle is established.
What to Do Instead?
If your puppy has a history of being punished for pooping indoors, there are several things you can do to remedy the situation. First though, an important clarification: what should you do if you come back from getting a drink and find a pile of poop behind the couch? What you need to do for the time being is simply ignore your puppy and clean up the mess and then follow these helpful tips so.
Clean up soiled areas with an enzyme-based cleaner. Enzymes will literally break down all those smelly agents so your puppywon’t get a whiff of his past mistake and keep on repeating the same mistakes as puppies tend to soil on previous soiled areas.
Stay in a room with plain view. If you decide to keep your puppy in a room with you, (make sure he successfully eliminated recently) you must actively supervise every little move your puppy makes. You may need to temporarily re-arrange furniture so you can always see your puppy and have no blind spots.
Train your puppy to promptly follow you outside. Instead of stomping your feet, yelling no, grabbing your puppy to carry him out or engaging in any startling behaviors, a better option is to teach your puppy to follow you outside. Every day, walk towards the door and say in an upbeat tone of voice “let’s go outside!” If you walk swiftly and act enthusiastic about it, making it a fun game, your puppy will follow you voluntarily. Once out, act boring and stick nearby so when he goes potty, once done you can tell him “good job” and give a treat (always keep a treat pouch on you when you’re potty training).
Acknowledge and praise indoor pre-potty signs (sniffing, circling, whining) and reward them by playing the “let’s go outside!” game. This may be the opposite what you may have heard in the past (startling the puppy when he shows signs of going), but it’s the best way of gaining your pup’s trust back and learning that it’s fine to show these signs versus suppressing them and hiding.
Supervise, supervise, supervise and set your puppy on a potty training schedule where you feed your puppy always at the same time and take him out at scheduled intervals. Remember though to be flexible. Strictly adhering to the rule of counting the pup’s age in months and adding one, may only lead to frustration as there are too many variables and a pup’s bladder doesn’t know how to count!
The Bottom Line
Puppies do not poop behind the bed or behind the TV out of spite or because they are sneaky. They do so because they have become afraid of pooping when the owner is around.
Puppies do not act guilty because they think what they did was wrong. They do so because they are responding to the intimidating body language and tone of angered or frustrated owners.
Puppies do not poop to make owners angry, pooping is a physiological need and just as we wouldn’t punish a child for soiling a diaper we shouldn’t be punishing a puppy for having an accident, even if it’s behind a couch or some other place.
Puppies do not understand if you scold them for finding poop when you were in another room. This form of non-contingent punishment does more harm than good as puppies have no idea what you’re making a fuss about and will only think you’re mad at them for behaviors they’re doing at the very moment (looking at you, playing, chewing a toy). Dogs can’t sequence events in their minds the way us humans do, explains veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman in the book “Puppy’s First Steps.”
Young puppies have not yet attained sufficient bladder and bowel control. It is useless to get irritated as this control only comes with time. For more on this read the physiology behind puppy accidents.
Puppies do not have a sense of shame or have a need to poop in privacy. To puppies, pooping is natural behavior and they do when they need to. If your puppy regularly poops under a bed or behind a couch, determine if you have been too harsh and evaluate if you have failed to clean previously soiled areas correctly (pups tend to soil the same areas as they smell previous accidents if cleaned up improperly). Perhaps you need to re-arrange things to help your puppy succeed.
Puppies learn faster if they’re shown what to do instead of punishing them for doing something wrong. Set your pup for success by implementing a smart, positive based potty training program.
Did you know? Puppies and dogs have a gastrocolic reflex which may stimulate them to go potty shortly after eating.
Nicholas Dodman, Puppy’s First Steps, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston New York, 2007
Why do puppies not hear at birth? “So they’re spared from hearing momma dog complaining about them” would say a joke, but turns out there are actually several plausible reasons as to why puppies don’t hear at birth and it has to do with the way this species evolved. As much as being born without the ability to hear may sound counterproductive from an adaptive perspective, there must have been some sort of evolutionary advantage for mother dogs to give birth to puppies who are unable to see or hear over being able to see and hear from the get-go. In this article we will be covering and discovering some interesting facts about a puppy’s sensory development and growth.
A Helpless State
At some point, as animals evolved, they were divided into precocial and altricial species. The precocials had long pregnancies that led to developed offpsring; whereas the altricial had shorter pregnancies that led to underdeveloped offspring. When it comes to dogs, they’re categorized as altricial animals. This means that their pregnancies are short and puppies are born blind and deaf, with poor motor skills (they can only crawl for short distances) and the inability to regulate their body temperatures or eliminate on their own, leaving them in a pretty much helpless state. Several animals other than dogs are altricial too and that includes the vast majority of birds, cats, marsupials and humans are classified as altricial too!
Out and Off You Go!
As much as being in an helpless state can sound like a great disadvantage, Mother Nature must have sure have known what she was doing considering that dogs have made it so far in their long evolutionary history. There must have therefore been some adaptive advantages. First of all, one must consider the dog’s evolutionary past as hunters. A pregnant canine would have a hard time running around hunting for many months in row, so their gestation period is relatively short (an average of 63 days versus the 342 days of a mare). Getting the pups out of the womb quickly therefore offered a good adaptive advantage, explains Stanley Coren, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, in an article for Psychology Today.
No Thumb Twiddling
On top of a short pregnancy, a dog’s ancestors had hunting and feeding habits that allowed them some free time. After gorging themselves with food on the day of the kill, they would often have ample of time in between hunts. This spare time was no time for thumb twiddling though. Instead, these prandial pauses worked great for allowing mothers sufficient time to cater to their helpless infants. Then, when it was time again to hunt and eat, mothers could temporarily leave their pups behind in a dry, warm den. With a dedicated mother and a safe place to stay, the pups’ sense of hearing could wait a couple of weeks without no apparent hindrance.
Grand Opening Day
With the ear canals closed shut, puppies are unable to hear and are unresponsive even to loud noises for a couple of weeks. Silence is important during this time as a puppy’s auditory system is very vulnerable and fragile. Exposure to sound waves during this time could potentially cause great damage as their auditory apparatus is not ready to handle this stimulus, explains Tom Davis in the book “Why Puppies Do That: A Collection of Curious Puppy Behaviors.” So when do puppies ears open? Generally, roughly around 10 days, the puppy’s ear canals will open slightly and at 14 days the pups begin to hear some sounds. The pup’s ears should then become fully open and operational by 3 weeks of age, explains veterinarian Race Foster.
A World of Stimuli
With the helpless neonatal stage being left behind, pups are growing rapidly and getting ready to meet the world. With eyes and ears fully operational and the ability to walk around, puppies are exploring the world and responding to the many olfactory, visual and auditory stimuli that impinge on their sensory receptors. After undergoing the transitional stage of development, puppies are therefore getting ready for the primary socialization period, the most critical time for social development which starts when the pups are still in care of the breeder and continues when the pups are sent to their new homes.
Why do puppies have bloated bellies? If you ever whelped a litter of puppies or recently got a young puppy, you may have noticed their bloated Buddha-style bellies, why is that? In many cases, a potty-belly appearance in puppies is mostly noticeable after the puppy has eaten, but a bloated belly that doesn’t decrease in size is something that warrants veterinary attention, especially when accompanied by other symptoms. Swelling of a puppy’s belly may be indicative of some neonatal illnesses that require treatment.
Presence of Parasites
About 95 percent of puppies are born with intestinal worms, with roundworms and hookworms being the most commonly seen, according to Vet Help. In particular, a heavy infestation of roundworms may cause puppies to be pot bellied because their presence causes the intestinal tract to fill with gas and become distended. While fecal tests can help identify the presence of roundworms, proof of parasites are not always found as eggs aren’t always shed, so a puppy can still have parasites even if the fecal test came back negative. Generally, young puppies require a series of de-worming doses to get rid of these pesky parasites. Some vets recommend de-worming puppies at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age, so if you got your puppy at a breeder at 8 weeks, your puppy may still need another dose. Consult with your breeder and vet.
Eating and Drinking
Young puppies tend to become particularly bloated after eating or drinking lots of water at once. This bloating tends to happen because puppies grow so quickly and consume lots of food in proportion to their weight, explains Jane Lefler, a breeder of over 16 years. In this case though, the swelling is only temporary. The distended belly in the puppy should decrease in size within a few hours, but then it will get again big, round and firm at the next scheduled feeding. In a normal healthy puppy, despite the distended abdomen, the puppy is still a happy camper, playing, acting bright and alert and defecating normally. See your vet though if your puppy has a bloated belly and starts acting lethargic or develops other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and loss of appetite.
Overfeeding Neonate Pups
As many thing in life, too much of a good thing can do more harm than good. Novice breeders or people who find an orphaned puppy who needs to be hand fed puppy formula, may some times inadvertently feed too much. In such a case, the affected puppies may become bloated, colicky and they may develop green or yellow watery stools. Diluting the formula by adding 25 percent more water for a few days will reduce the temptation to overfeed and can help minimize the diarrhea associated with abrupt dietary changes, explains veterinarian William D. Fortney.
An Abdominal Hernia
In some cases, what looks like a distended abdomen, is actually the presence of a hernia. The outward bulging may be caused by abdominal organs that have managed to push through some opening in the abdominal wall or it could be the diaphragm may have protruded out. Umbilical hernias are quite common in puppies, and they’re commonly soft swellings seen in the abdomen, right after the end of the rib cage. They are particularly noticeable when the puppy is barking, standing or straining. Fortunately, most umbilical hernias do not pose any particular health dangers to the affected puppies, explains Ernest Ward, in an article for VCA Animal Hospitals.
A Case of Bloat
Bloat, also known as gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV) is a serious, life-threatening condition that mostly affects large breed dogs. Although there have been some reported cases in puppies, its mostly seen in older dogs. Veterinarian Dr. Bruce, claims having seen a case of bloat in a 14-week old Labrador puppy. Symptoms of bloat include retching, non-productive vomiting, pacing and a reluctance to lie down to rest. Bloat is often seen in dogs who have eaten a large meal and were exercised heavily thereafter, explains veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks. However, sometimes an exact cause in individual dogs cannot be pinpointed. If you suspect bloat in your puppy, see your vet immediately as every second counts.
Build Up of Fluid
In some cases, puppies with serious medical problems may develop a distended abdomen. The abdomen may be filled up with fluid, a condition known as “ascites.” The fluid buildup may come from a problem with the puppy’s heart or liver, suggests veterinarian Dr. B. In this case, an x-ray or ultrasound would be helpful for diagnostic purposes. Any heart abnormalities can sometimes be detected when the vet uses the stethoscope upon physical examination.
Did you know? Puppies just like babies, need to be burped after being bottle-fed. If they are allowed to suck the bottle dry, they may ingest too much air which can make them colicky, explains Beth J. Finder in the book: “Breeding a Litter, The Complete Book of Prenatal and Postnatal Care.”