Got a Dirty Puppy?

Thanks to Shady Lane Labs for the photo

Thanks to Shady Lane Labs for the photo

I do!!!  I have a dirty puppy at my house right now and for this article I am referring to potty training dirty!!!

Dirty puppies are so much harder than clean puppies!  For obvious reasons, no one wants to wake up to the smell of poop flowing through the room; or a puppy that smells like a sewer!

Thankfully most puppies or any animal for that matter really wants to be clean.

Let’s Break it Down

Why Do Some Puppies Not Mind Being Dirty?

puppies kept in deplorable conditions will almost always be dirty puppies!  Avoid pet shops and other places that may get pups from places like these

puppies kept in deplorable conditions will almost always be dirty puppies! Avoid pet shops and other places that may get pups from places like these

They Were Raised Dirty

I think a lot of it depends on how clean the puppies are kept when they are born and whelped.

Breeders or people who allow the puppies to be dirty all of the time, or even most of the time are setting their puppies up for more trouble when it is time to get a new family and begin potty training.

Puppy mills are the worst for obvious reasons, so puppies that come from pet stores and places like that are usually guaranteed to be dirtier than others.

But, some breeders also don’t keep their puppies clean; although sometimes it is hard to tell because when people visit the litter they clean up.

Sometimes an indication of possible problems is a breeder that keeps the puppies outside all of the time.  It is much harder to ignore the smell of poop in your home than it is in some kennel outside you don’t have to visit but twice a day!  That is certainly not to say that all breeder that keep pups outside are bad or dirty breeders!

But it is hard to convince a puppy that he CAN be clean if he is used to living in and laying in his own and his littermates feces.  He knows nothing else!

You Don’t Get Him Outside Often Enough

outsideOften times people come home with a puppy and they don’t realize how much work puppies are!  They don’t know that puppies have to go outside every 2 hours at least, and after drinks of water, and after eating, and after naps.

If you don’t get him outside to do his business when he needs to go, he gets use to going where ever he is when he feels the urge to pee or poop.   This creates problems which makes your job harder and makes inappropriate pooping and urination a habit.

Puppies need to go out ALL the time!  And, you have to go with them to ensure they are not just playing and then coming back inside to go potty!

I believe, on the same note, that puppy pads also confuse puppies teaching them that going inside the house on a soft surface or rug is a good thing.  So if at all possible avoid these products and instead just keep taking your puppy outside.

You Keep Him in a Small Crate Too Long

Puppies are like babies; they develop bladder control and the ability to control their bowels at different times.

Small crates are conducive to potty training because most dogs/puppies don’t want to lay in their own feces and urine… however if  you leave them too long they really don’t have a choice!

Imagine expecting a baby to potty train itself, or leaving it in a dirty diaper all day.

This isn’t fair to a puppy and it teaches him to be immune to being dirty.  Being dirty begins to be something he has to get used to, because he doesn’t have a choice.

Then he almost thinks his crate is his “cat box” it is the place he is use to going potty!

If I think I might be gone too long, I would put my pup in a bigger place or bigger area, just in case!  This way if he has an accident in his crate because he has to he can go to another area to lay down.  This gives him the option to choose to be clean.

Dirty Puppies

Thanks to Sun Star American Bulldogs for the picture of clean puppies

Thanks to Sun Star American Bulldogs for the picture of clean puppies

On occasion I have seen dirty dogs and puppies.  It is hard to explain how anything could choose to be dirty, but it happens.

I am not exactly sure why the pup I have is dirty, but I suppose it doesn't really matter, what matters is how to fix it!

How to Fix It

  • First if you visit the puppies and the house or kennel or shelter smells terrible reconsider the puppy, or know that you may be in for a lot of difficult potty training! 
  • Then make sure that the puppy gets out of his crate, gets interaction and play time, and gets out to go potty often! 
  • Only use a very small crate or area if you are available to take the dog out every few hours!  This includes overnight.  Put the crate next to your bed and when the pup makes noise get him outside.
  • Use a larger crate or area if you need to be gone longer than your pup should be left. 
  • Keep your puppy clean!
  • Even if he doesn’t seem to care about being dirty and smelly don’t allow this… you have to teach him that cleanliness is next to godliness ;) as the story goes.  If you clean his kennel but you don’t bathe him he learns nothing.
  • And, vice/versa if you clean him but you don’t clean his kennel well he just learns to live in filth and the smell of it increases the odds of him doing it yet again.
  • Be consistent and give him time and get him outside often.

Most dogs or puppies learn after a short period of time even though every day of dirtiness feels like a million years!

Treat him the way you would treat a baby and be patient, and don’t make him live in conditions that you would not live in!

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  1. Jeannie says:

    There is one other thing. Your dog does not share your judgment about what smells good and what smells bad. It isn’t just feces; most dogs also find the smell of rotting flesh enticing and even if they don’t eat it (and many will), almost all dogs will roll in it. One of my dogs once located what I can only imagine had been a mating ground for, I don’t know, a badger orgy? She rolled and rolled and it took 3 baths to get the overwhelming musk off of her, but as far as she was concerned, it was Chanel no 5 for canines. The only solid way to address this that I have found is getting your dog to unfailingly obey a “leave it” command.

    Same dog who rolled in wild animal musk another time caught a squirrel. Squirrel is in her soft retriever mouth, pinned against our fence. She is ecstatic. She’s always wanted one of these things. I said “leave it” and without moving any other part of her body she rolled her eyes toward me and paused. I repeated the command, she opened her mouth in kind of slow motion, the squirrel ran off and I swear, she was mad at me for the rest of the day. But even if your dog is that reliable, you will have to have your eyes on the dog when they do what they do.

    So basically, if you have dogs you have to have a hose and a tub in your life. But a good training to cease and desist really helps.


  2. Teresa K says:

    Funny – my puppy is such a girlie girl that, if she is peeing on a hill and it rolls down and touches her foot, she picks up her foot. And when she poops, she keeps walking to get away from it.


  3. Gay Scanlon says:

    Yes. My goldens love to roll in everything! The 3 year old has a worse habit… She eats poop in the yard if we do not get to it in time! YUCK!! I have tried every home remedy and nothing works. I pick up after each dog immediately 24/7, yet there are times when I do not see one of them going & she beats me to it. ANY SUGGESTIONS WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED! G. Scanlon


    Sheila Bliesath Reply:

    LOL I knew this before but had it confirmed . . . Try giving your dog that likes to eat poop, food that is rich in potassium. It seems this is an indication of potassium deficiency.


    Dori Reply:

    My GSD has food allergies and is on limited ingredient diet, venison and potato/sweet potato. Potatoes have lots of potassium, but she still eats poop. She’s 8 years old, this has been a lifelong issue with her, I just try to pick up ASAP, but I’ve seen her poop and immeadiatly turn around and give it a sniff, then lick. When I see this, of course, I tell her to leave it and she does. We have 5 acres and she hasn’t tried to leave property in 5 years, so she does have unsupervised time outdoors, most often when I am busy doing yardwork, gardening or tending to my chickens. So I don’t always get to all the “piles” right away and often when I do, they are half eaten…ICK! Odd thing is, she only eats her own poop, not the 6month old puppies, would that be because they eat different food?


    Roberto Reply:

    I have same problem with a Siberian husky, she is almost one year old and has had this problem (for me obviously), since I brought her home… I try everything but nothing works, I will try what Sheila Bliesath say (thanks for the advice). Big problem is that after she ate her feces, then she developed diarrhea and vomits and then to clean again… I will try also what Dan suggests “cayenne pepper”…

    Thank you all


  4. Jan says:

    I have a Mini Schnauzer that eats feces. I have tried everything including the meat tenderizer in his food. I have tried the “Leave it command” but I live on 2 acres and cannot see him all the time. He will obey when I am with him but of course won’t if I’m not on top of him. Thanks any help would be great.


  5. pat farmer says:

    That was very interesting and makes a lot of sense but how do you stop a puppy from eating another dogs poop? Both live with me but the older dog is 10 and they get along great. My puppy just seens drawn to the droppings from the older dog.

    thank you


    Minette Reply:

    Some say canned pumpkin, vets also carry a prescription product… best thing is to keep your dogs well cleaned up after to stop the problem.


    Pat Reply:

    That was helpful. My cockerpoo eats not only HIS poo but the poo of his THREE sisters.

    I didn’t realize that the vet has a prescription for this problem. I have tried over the counter pills for this, to no avail.


  6. Marina says:

    My dog has good visual senses but her nose is amazing. I cant explain why dogs roll in for us stinky stuff; but i guess it is like with a women’s favorite perfume.( Honestly my washing conditioner smells wonderful i could bath in it)and since dogs smelling and sniffing is for them like newspaper reading for us.. well i guess we have to live with it.
    Well i am on the countryside of Ireland and that means cow poo bath i try to upload the photo. it is the dog of my friend she is good on the lead but when she smelled whatever kind of forest animal left their pi on the grass she ripped the lead and i made a somersault, right behind her and slide through that stinking stuff as well 🙁 unfortunately i was on a bicycle so guess who got a shower and a few bruises.


  7. Steve says:

    My dog likes to eat poop. If I catch her just before she dives in she leaves it but if I turn my back it’s snack time. Pretty gross. I have been told the our breed Whippet tends to do this more often.

    I also live in the Pacific Northwest. Rotting Salmon are a delicacy for most dogs, noting better then a feast of stinky salmon and rolling on them. We just stay clear of the streams and rivers for a few months in the fall.


    Mary Reply:

    Your dog is in danger of getting salmonella poisoning. One of my dogs got that and almost died. Please be careful of any rotting food anywhere.


  8. Dan says:

    I once had a dog who ate his own poop. A friend suggested sprinkling it with cayenne pepper. I only had to do this once and the problem was solved.


    Minette Reply:

    Isn’t it easier to pick it up than to remember your cayenne pepper?


    jo Reply:

    I think the idea was to change the behavior, not to use the pepper on a continual basis. I am guessing the dog associates the new ‘pepper tasting’ poo as uninviting. Quick learner that dog…..good for you.


  9. Jeannie says:

    One thing that helped several of my dogs who were inclined toward dining on poop was adding fermented foods to their diet. I ferment veggies anyway, and you can find loads of recipes and info online (it’s easier than easy), but if you aren’t inclined, get some decent probiotic caps and open into the food and/or add miso paste, yogurt, raw sauerkraut, etc to food. Some dogs instinctively eat poop to repopulate their gut with healthy bacteria. By the way, this isn’t a huge health threat to dogs. I know it’s gross, but their digestive enzymes are way more aggressive than ours.

    You can also train to “leave it” using flags on piles of poo, and some dogs will internalize the training and follow it even if you aren’t watching eventually. Or so I’ve been told. The one of mine who is still a poop addict can’t be trusted if I’m not watching, with anything at all. But she does follow the leave it command if I’m watching her.


  10. Maryann says:

    My golden mix Chelsea has an aversion to WATER. She hates to get a bath and if it is raining outside, she will hold it for HOURS. I have a garden hose setup in the basement near the main drain with a car wash attachment. The shampoo gets mixed in with the water automatically. Chelsea doesn’t like to get wet. What can I do to make her smell better???


  11. Marilynn says:

    I have a dog that eats cat poop like its candy. She got the habit from a friends dog, didn’t touch it before then. Our cats are mostly outside. The dog will find it and eat it up before I can stop her. Any ideas? Thanks.


  12. Dorsey says:

    I share a banana with my dog every morning. He used to eat his poop but, since the banana, he no longer does. That’s in sync with the high potassium food concept. I tried pineapple but he didn’t like it. He loves bananas so it works. Try it! Dorsey


  13. Christina says:

    my girl Skye loved the pony she would lick her face ears then along the ponies body, that done she would pick up some poop and eat it, my 15month grand daughter Ziva would follow her around, stroking the pony too, but the day Ziva and Skye came running when called, and they both had a mouthful of pony poop, pony was moved to another property, Skye loves to roll in Chicken poop furtunatly Ziva just thinks that is funny and runs away laughing, Skye follows.


  14. Chris P says:

    I have an 11 week old cockerpoo. We had sorted out wee’s as I take him out and say ‘do wee’ and 9 out of 10 times he does that and I reward. But poo’s I’m really having problems with as he will do it anywhere in the house. Can someone give me advice please. Thanks


    Minette Reply:

    read this

    and this

    You have to be super consistent for them to learn, otherwise the little guys start building bad habits that become very hard to break


  15. Ginny says:

    I purchased your no hands clicker plan but can’t find how to keep my puppy from ‘jumping on people’ or ‘lying down’. Thanks Ginny


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article


  16. Trisha says:

    I used to be a very conscientious breeder. I never left poop that I saw in the pen. Sometimes I stayed up until 2am to be sure they got their last meal until morning and I cleaned up the poop that followed. I did not let them stay in soggy bedding either. However, I now have 9 dogs of my own. They are shih tzu. One or two did not stop eating the poop, even with Forbid and other measures. Now, I find it is a big game for almost all of them. Perhaps 2 or 3 will not participate, but I find the rest of them running over to where a dog is going and trying to catch it as it comes out. I scream and run after them and rip it out of their mouths, but they are not upset about it. Sometimes they come in from being out with frozen poop in their mouths and I have to chase them around to get it. We are using some soft things from a catalog which are supposed to make the poop disgusting tasting, but we are on the second bucket….getting too old for this. Any suggestions? Thanks, Trisha.


    Minette Reply:

    I think the problem lies with the amount of dogs you have. I am guessing at that point they feel more like they are in a pack than that they feel like pets. And, pack mentality is very competitive for all resources, and poop can sometimes feel like a resource.

    The best thing to do is separate them out and train them to listen to you and do obedience so that they learn to listen to you instead of running from you and also learn the leave it command.


  17. whisperingsage says:

    I don’t agree that once a dirty puppy, always a dirty puppy. when I was a child, my mother had up to 7 dogs, of various breeds to protect us kids. Even though these dogs were all adults, she would lay newspapers all over the kitchen floor and they would poop and pee all over them at night and in the morning she would weep the paper out the back door and once a week burn the papers. I grew up with burning the papers as one of my chores.
    When I was in my 20’s still at home, my mom had to go take care of her brother as he had an operation and had to have help at home. So for two months I was alone with the dogs, and I did not put papers doown, but made sure they went outside for their last pee about 10 pm. And I never had a problem during that 2 months of those dogs doing their business inside. I didn’t have to whip anybody or shame anybody It was like they knew my expectation and were happy to go out.


  18. lesley says:

    I have a male Spoodle, 23 months old. He took until 6 months old before he was clean inside the room he slept in. A few accidents that appear to be lazy folliwed where the doors were open and he would just stop and pee, not poo. Since he has been clean at night. Has always been a quiet sleeper, in the room joining my bedroom.
    However he appeared to have a few accudents in the last 2 months at the pet store and my daughters house twice then in my house. He was trained to go “toilet” at the end of the yard. Recently he has been going where ever he wants. Poo and wee smells over the back patio. I went on holidays last week and the first night he pooped all over his room, the family room. Put it down to stress but this is not the first time I have been away and sitters he knows stay over. Second night back, I awoke to heaps of poops and wee on his mat.
    I am very concerned now. I take him out before going to bed. I am going to go back to basics but it is not as easy as with a puppy, by putting him back on a lead and go outside at night before bed and wait until he at least wees and reward him.
    Other suggestions would be so helpful

    thanks, Lesley


    Minette Reply:

    crate training!! It works wonders


    lesley Reply:

    thanks, but for a fully grown two year old? I no longer have a crate, but was going to restrict his area in the family room during the night. How would it stop these episodes?


    Minette Reply:

    Crate training knows no age! Most dogs won’t poop and pee in their crates (unless they are sick) but it is easy to poop in the corner of a room or wander the house and poop.

    Not to mention roaming free moves the bowels and may cause a dog to need to poop or pee, but being in a crate keeps this problem from happening and encourages sleep filled nights.

    I would go out and get another crate

  19. Kacy says:

    My 5 yr old Yorkie is a “dirty” dog. I have tried the crate and he just pees in the crate almost every night. I have tried taking the pad out of the crate so he will have to sleep in his mess but that did not work either. He would even hike his leg to pee outside the crate (now isn’t that a smart dog) so he won’t have to slee in his mess. So I wired a plastic sheet to the inside for the door so he could not pee outside the crate…he still peed in the CRATE. Now he sleeps in the laundry room with our other dog and “most” nights he stays dry but about once every other week he makes a mess. He has ruined our carpet. So I am thinking I will go back to the crate again….HELP PS: he never poops in his crate or inside the house!


    Minette Reply:

    Sounds more like marking behavior related to being intact for too long rather than peeing.


  20. MaryAnn Williams says:

    When we first brought our beautiful little puppy home, my husband and I set the alarm clock and got up every one to one-and-half hours to take her outside to potty. One of us would always be sure to be home during the day as well to take her out often. She never had an accident in the house and she is now 6 years old. When we go outside with her, we continue to cheer her on when she makes a “poop” or “pee”… She constantly hears “Good potty” from us and as a result pretty much “pees and poops” on command….which comes in handy while on daily walks and at dog shows.

    Thank you for great articles.


  21. cathy chevlin says:

    My pyre 5 months old just started to pee in her crate after unproductive walks? I walk her for a half hour and she hold it till we walk in the door ? what am i doing wrong ! It is getting old


    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs get distracted by walks. The walk becomes more important than peeing or pooping.

    In these cases you have to go back to square one and wait until they go.

    Often exercise helps to move the bowels, but after a good walk wait 10 minutes or so and if the dog doesn’t go, then back into the crate and then out again every 15 minutes until the dog goes potty


  22. mike says:

    I feed my puppy pineapple pieces twice a day, he stopped eating his poop immediately but he like the pieces so much I didn’t stop giving them to him


  23. Mia says:

    Pumpkin is great for this problem. Get canned pumpkin from the store & add to food of all the dogs. I think a tablespoon or so will work depending on their size. Stops them from eating any poop. Good luck


  24. My sister’s collie used to eat her pom’s poop. I had read where you give the dog some pineapple it will deter any dog even the one that pooped from eating it. Once they stop, which doesn’t take long at all you can quit the pineapple. Sliced or crushed doesn’t make a difference. And not much at a time. It works great.


  25. Minette says:

    I think this is due to not being spayed. I would also check her for a UTI


  26. Toni Harms says:

    Thank you for this post, unfortunately I feel I have tried everything you have suggested to no avail. Is there hope for a dirty dog? My 6 month old mini Aussie has been the biggest challenge I have ever had and I am losing my mind. I restrict food and water after 7 pm, I let her out twice during night and she still pees and poos in kennel then rolls in it. She makes no sound just stands up, pees then lays back down in it. I have tried bigger kennel, smaller kennel, Unscented pads, bedding, no bedding, more frequent potty trips, tiring her out before bed, ect. Another thing I have noticed is she has a doggy door and access to a large dog run with trees grass dirt ect. It has a small concrete landing I keep her food and water dish on and that is the only place outside she will pee, it gets all over her and puddles around her food dish. I take her out to potty, watch her go and give a treat, then she runs inside to potty on floor. Last night she jumped on the back of the couch and started peeing. The vet cannot find any physical problems. She does not go in kennel during day(as she instantly pees) I’m feeling pretty hopeless here. Any advice?


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