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Dog Having Accidents Only At Night: 9 Reasons + 3 Tips

Dog Having Accidents Only At Night

Having a house-trained dog can make any fur parent happy.

We can just go about our day not worrying.

However, you start noticing something…

It seems like the night makes your pooch transform into…

A pooping machine.

At this point, you just want to enjoy the smell of fresh coffee in the morning. Preferably not mixed with stinky poo smell.

If so, waste no time and…

Continue reading to discover:

  • 9 reasons why your dog is having accidents only at night.
  • How a canine’s eating habits can make them have  accidents at night.
  • If hiding from something is a reason why they relieve themselves during nighttime.
  • And much much more…

Why is my dog having accidents only at night?

Your dog is having accidents only at night because of their eating schedule. Another reason why this happens to your canine is they have a medical issue. Fear and anxiety can also be playing a role in why they’re having accidents at night. Your pooch’s potty training may also be lacking.

Why is my dog suddenly having accidents at night? 9 reasons

#1: They have stomach issues

When your pooch’s potty behavior changes, you need to check their health. 

Well, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the issue, but it’s better to be sure. Especially if your dog has been properly trained to poop outside or in a designated area. 

Tummy issues can alter your dog’s pooping behaviors. It can also cause them to lose control over their bowel movement.

And if their stomach acts up in the middle of the night, your dog has no choice but to poop. 

“So how do I know if my dog has tummy issues?”

It’s all in the poop. Their stool might be smelly and a hassle to clean but it can be your friend.

I say this because there are stomach problems that can be detected just by checking your dog’s poop. Here are things you need to look out for:

  • Size.
  • Color.
  • Shape.
  • Content.
  • Consistency.

Here are a few quick reminders when checking your dog’s stool:

Reminder #1: A normal canine poop should be compact and easy to remove from the ground. But not hard – it’s a little bit moist. If it’s too watery or runny, your pooch might have intestinal problems.

Reminder #2: Your dog’s stool should be elongated. Kinda like a log. If you notice that they’re pooping round stools, there’s a chance they’re dehydrated.

Reminder #3: A normal canine poop is brown in color. If it has a shade of red, there might be blood in their stool. Green is an indicator that they’re eating too much grass.

Reminder #4: The amount of food your pooch eats should be similar to their poop in size. Higher fiber content in their meals will also increase the size of their stool.

A common tummy issue that occurs in dogs is diarrhea. According to research, it’s one of the main reasons why fur parents visit vets.

Warning: Diarrhea, in worst cases, can result in dog fatalities. Dehydration is a common illness that goes with this sickness. Immediately visit the vet if you think your pooch has diarrhea.

Further reading: 15 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Scoot Their Butt On The Floor

#2: They received punishment when they pooped before

House-trained dogs receive praises and rewards for pottying in the right spot. On the other hand, those who do it inside get scolds and punishments sometimes.

There are fur parents who still force and “dominance” to make their pooches obey them. And while some “experts” do suggest this, it isn’t the best method to train your dog.

When a dog receives this kind of treatment they become fearful. Just watch this poor fur baby that’s scared of getting touched:

According to the VCA, withdrawing punishment is best for altering a canine’s behavior. Then add positive reinforcement to create a more effective training routine.

Now, when fur parents use punishments, it will hurt your relationship with your dog. They will no longer show the actions that signal they trust you.

And this can then affect their pooping behavior.

Because if a dog is afraid of their fur parents, they no longer want to be around them. And this could force them to poop while hiding.

The best time they can do this is when everyone is asleep and nobody can scold them.

Let’s say you don’t do punishments and keep your interactions with your dog light. There can still be some actions that might scare canines.

“Oh no, could I be doing those?”

Screaming, running towards them, and stomping to make them stop can startle your dog. And even if these reactions are purely knee-jerk, your fur baby won’t know that.

They see you flailing your arms around because they pooped… still it can scare them. Always be mindful of your actions when you’re trying to interact with your dog.

Remember, care and love are important in building lasting relationships with canines.

#3: It’s more peaceful at night

Do you live somewhere noisy with lots of traffic outside? Maybe you have an extended family at your home and it’s a bit crowded?

Your pooch might shy away from pooping if they are bombarded with all the ruckus at your place. It can even push them to just go potty at night when everything is quiet.

If this is the case, it’s most likely that your dog has been holding in their poop or pee. And because of this, they have a tendency to have accidents at night inside your home.

Just like us, some dogs love to have privacy when they relieve themselves. Pooping can be dangerous to dogs especially if they are in an unfamiliar place.

Okay, your home isn’t something new to your fur baby. But, their instinct to protect themselves can still come out during potty time.

Emotional turmoil is also a huge factor when it comes to your dog’s pooping behavior. According to WebMD, canines have the tendency to have accidents if they feel stressed.

There are also times when fur parents get visitors at home. And if their pooch isn’t well socialized, it can stress them out.

Dogs have the tendency to bark at certain people especially if they’re strangers.

“Is this a sign of stress? What other symptoms should I look for?”

How emotional strain manifests in dogs according to Dr. Weir:

  • Shivering.
  • Stiff stance.
  • Heavy pants.
  • Walking around.
  • Whining excessively.
  • Different looks in their ears and eyes.

#4: Their potty training is poorly done

Dogs Have Accidents At Night Because Their Potty Training Is Poorly Done

It’s a huge milestone for any fur parent to get their pooch to poop in the right place. I can still remember how happy I got when Lissa finally pooped in her designated area.

I imagine it’s the same for you, yeah? It just makes us parents proud of the achievements of our little furry friends.

However, there are some of us who didn’t let their dog go through proper potty training. This can lead to poor retention of the things their pooch learned.

And consequently, accidents will follow.

I’m not saying this is you. But if you think you’ve rushed through your dog’s training… then, you might wanna do it again.

“Yeah… I think I did go through their training too fast and let them go early.”

If that’s the case, then retraining might be needed. This way, they’ll have a reinforced memory of the desired potty behavior.

But this time around, you’ll do it better. Take advantage of your dog’s intelligence.

According to the APA, canines have the mental ability of a 2-year old human. It might not sound a lot, but this is impressive!

The CDC estimates that by 2 years of age, babies have the ability to do the following:

  • Copying other adult humans.
  • Can sort out colors and shapes.
  • Understands and completes sentences in books.
  • Finding hidden objects even when they’re under 3 covers.
  • Recognizes they’re around other children and gets excited.

Now, of course, these activities are mostly exclusive to humans. But just imagine this kind of brain is what your dog has.

Your fur baby’s capacity to learn is high. Research even suggests that canines can also understand a few simple human words.

#5: The scent of their poop is still inside your house

Smells are like treasure maps to dogs. It can guide them to the location of a certain object.

I mean, you’ve seen this in action in movies, in news articles, and even in real life. Ever seen one of those K9 police dogs in airports?

It’s so cool how they can track the smell of bombs, drugs, and criminals like magic. But the reason why they’re so good with scents is not remotely close to sorcery.

Their secret lies in their noses – obviously. However, do you know how strong their sense of smell is?

According to the VCA, canines have up to 100 million receptors located in their nasal cavity. Compared to a human’s 6 million, that’s a lot.

Our noses are only 6% in power in comparison to your pooch’s. That’s why they can detect when someone they know is coming – they hear and smell them.

Even if the incoming person is still miles away. They’d just go crazy excited and run around your house.

“What does their smelling prowess have to do with them pooping at night?”

Effect of scents on dogs’ memories.

Well, dogs like to go potty in places where they already did it. After all, they are creatures of a routine according to some experts.

And when they remember where they pooped last time, they go back there and do it again. Just one whiff of their past accidents and whoosh goes their stool.

Research shows that odor can evoke memories in dogs. In the study, canines were taught a certain task while having the scent of vanilla around.

After 24 hrs., the canines were separated into 3 groups and performed the initial job. The group that was exposed to vanilla’ scent while re-doing the task performed the best.

If your pooch can still smell their poop in your home they’ll most likely go there and poop. Add to that the fact that they can remember they did it successfully at night.

Due to this, they’ll have frequent accidents at night.

#6: They didn’t have access to their potty spot when you left

It can’t be helped that we’d have emergencies. Whether it’s related to work, family, or your friends, these things happen to all of us.

And when they do come, sometimes we’ll be left with no choice but to just leave our pooches. Okay, this sounded harsh – I didn’t mean like abandoning them.

I mean, we’re fur parents… most of us already have an emergency kit for these situations. Complete with all their needs – food, water, toys.

Feel like I’m forgetting something?

Yep… access to their potty place.

If your pooch doesn’t have a sitter, pooping at night when you’re out would be inevitable. Where else would they go?

The only option your fur baby has would be the floor. No matter how much they’d love to stick to their training, they just can’t.

Now, don’t feel bad if this happens to you. Eventually, fur parents, especially new ones, are bound to make mistakes.

Luckily, having your dog poop at night because you left them alone isn’t the end of the world. There are still things you can do so this doesn’t escalate into something worse.

Let’s talk about some things you need to remember when you’re going out.

First, you need to make sure that your fur baby is relatively safe inside. Meaning, sealing off areas that might be dangerous for them to be in.

Examples of these places would be:

  • Kitchen.
  • Garage.
  • Toolshed.

These are spots where things can fall on them and injure them. They might also eat stuff that can harm their tummies and make them poop if they’re in the kitchen.

You may also wonder: 13 Dog Breeds That Can Be Left Alone For 8 Hours + 9 Tips

#7: They have fecal incontinence

Dogs are hygienic creatures and don’t usually poop where they sleep, eat, and play. So when they do, it can be quite confusing for us fur parents.

Of course, this is on top of the hassle we’d go through cleaning their accidents. Nobody wants extra work, let alone working with stinky poop.

However, there might be times that your pooch just can’t control their bowel movements. In some cases, dogs won’t even feel that they already “dropped a bomb.”

“Wait, really? This happens?”

Unfortunately, yes. And this could be the reason why your dog is pooping at night while they’re resting.

This medical problem is called fecal incontinence.

“What’s that?”

This is what happens when the muscles around your pooch’s bum are no longer functional. You know, the ones that help push their poop out.. they’re also the ones that keep it in.

Well, this is one cause. Here are others according to PetMD:

  • Parasites.
  • Spinal issues.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Change in their diet.
  • Damaged sphincters.
  • Infection of their anal sacs.

You also need to be on the lookout for these signs of fecal incontinence:

  • Swollen tummy.
  • Scooting on the floor.
  • Pooping inside your house.
  • They don’t want to be touched near their tails.

If you think your pooch is exhibiting these signs, consult your vet as soon as possible. It’s better to be sure or rule out this possibility in its early stages.

Your dog will likely receive drugs that can help them contract their bums to control their poop. Motility-modifying drugs may also be used if the cause is toxic or infectious in nature.

You might also be interested in: Help, My Dog Hasn’t Pooped In 4 Days! 15 Reasons + 5 Tips

#8: They’re scent marking

When you’re already asleep, your house is somewhat more peaceful than usual. And if this happens, your dog can freely roam around your house.

Minus all the distractions, visitors, loud noises, they can really focus on exploring. Well, given that they do wake up in the middle of the night.

Now if this is the scenario, your pooch might smell traces of another dog’s scent inside. And the reason why they can smell is either of the following reasons:

  • You petted another canine while you were out.
  • You went to a location e.g. coffee shops where dogs are present.
  • A canine rubbed their fur on you and then transferred their pheromones onto your clothes.

Basically, any interaction with a dog can make their scent cling to you. If this is the case, you or your housemates will bring another canine’s smell.

As you enter the house, you touch several items – your couch, the remote, the doorknob, etc.

This will make your pooch act differently. Some might even bark at their fur parents all of a sudden.

It can be shocking when you enter the house seeing your dog “scolding: you.

And true enough, they’d go around “claiming” their home again at night when no one’s there. I mean, they are free to do anything they want if the parents are sleeping, right?

They really can sometimes be sneaky.

But peeing and scent marking in their territory is normal dog behavior. This is because dogs communicate through scents according to research.

When your dog has accidents inside, they could be trying to say to other dogs, “ALL. MINE.” 

#9: They’re going through a major change

Change can have a huge effect on a dog’s behavior, personality, and overall routine. When they are somewhere unfamiliar it can stress them out and make them act differently.

As mentioned earlier, dogs love having their routine followed. The time they eat, when they play, who they take their walks with… everything in order.

And when something goes out of line, it might interfere with their daily routine. Here are examples of changes that can affect a canine’s activities:

  • Death of a fur parent.
  • Moving to another house.
  • Having one of their siblings pass away.
  • Traveling somewhere with a different timezone.

“Do these things really have that kind of effect on them?”


Even research shows that dogs’ sleeping cycles were affected by their fur parents. They sync their sleep-wake routine with the person around them.

A change in your rest schedule creates a ripple effect on your dog. Now, imagine what moving miles away can do to them.

It can stress them out. Because of this, there will be a significant change in their behavior according to PetMD.

One of the things that might change is their potty manners. They might become erratic and poop during the night when everyone is asleep.

They can also totally ignore their training and just go wherever inside your home. Things like these are possible results of your dog’s stress.

Read also: 13 Reasons Why Dogs Poop / Pee Inside After Being Outside

How do I stop my dog from having accidents at night? 3 tips

#1: Use potty pads in the places where they’re allowed

If you want a controlled way of them pooping, try managing where they poop. It’s a quick way to deal with “night accidents.”

If you are part of the “busy fur parents club”, you might want to consider doing this. When you provide lots of potty pads, the chances that they’ll “go” there is higher.

Instead of them just pottying on the floor, they’d use the pads instead. This way, you’ll have an easier cleanup and will deal with stinky poos in a shorter time.

The Simple Solution Training Puppy Pads is a well-reviewed product on Amazon.

#2: Give them access to a safe potty space outside your home

Allowing your pooch to go out to pee or poop can help stop accidents at night. This way, they’ll have the option to go potty in their designated area.

You can try installing fences and playpens outside the doggy door they go out of. Your dog will be safer through this since they won’t be roaming outside their potty area.

It would also be beneficial if you cover the top part of the playpen. So that animals from the outside won’t have access to your doggy door.

MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen is an excellent option on Amazon.

#3: Don’t give them too much water and food late at night

Another solution you can do is to slowly change their eating time at night. The change should be gradual so the alternative schedule won’t stress them.

Try moving their eating schedule by increments of 30 minutes ahead of time. This way, they would be full early in the night and can help rest well.

It’s also important to remember that you should give them the proper amount of food. Ask your vet what your pooch’s food intake should be based on their:

  • Age.
  • Breed.
  • Activity level.