Can Dogs Spitefully Revenge Poop?

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You have just told your dog to get off the furniture or you have been away for a little bit longer than usual and now he has gifted you with poop on the floor or expensive carpet.

Can we consider this act as our dogs revenge pooping and can dogs be spiteful in general?

The logical human explanation for this behavior might sound a bit like this: “great, now he is taking revenge” or “he is being so spiteful out of nowhere”.

Your dog has probably been housetrained for years so there must be a reason for his sudden “revenge” poop and there is.

Can Dogs Be Spiteful?

When you are labeling your dog as spiteful, you are attributing human traits, characteristics, and intentions to an animal.

This process is called anthropomorphism and can be extremely fatal when it comes to dog training. It actually diminishes them and their evolutionary histories.

Spite is an act that has the intent of malice. To plan to take action against somebody with the purpose to cause them emotional stress or harm in retribution for a perceived wrong previously done takes significant cognitive abilities.

KD Mathews

In the case of your dog being spiteful, you are accusing your dog of purposeful actions that he intently performs to cause you distress and anger.

Dogs aren’t able to predict a certain set of actions that are the most annoying to their owners.

Reflecting such complex emotions on a dog is understandable as we see them as our family member and sometimes it’s harder to remind ourselves that they are not like us.

A dog’s brain simply does not work like a human brain.

They are straight-forward beings and are capable of neither spiteful behavior nor guilt.

Being spiteful is not instinctive and doesn’t lead them to any reward or satisfaction. It literally would be of no use.

A dog is one of the purest beings out there that has no bad intentions. Calling a dog spiteful is the result of a lack of knowledge and miscommunication on our side.

Do Dogs Poop for Revenge?

No, dogs do not poop out of revenge either. The fact that they are not capable of such emotions makes dog training so much easier.

You can always look at the behavior with a clear and rational mind unlike you would do with children or other people.

Pooping and peeing in the house always have a reason and it’s probably not for the reason you are thinking.

To get a bigger picture, you will first have to understand the perception that a dog has of pooping or peeing on a floor surface.

While we may find it embarrassing and unethical to do our business on the new carpet, dogs think very differently about it.

A dog is not disgusted by the smell of poop, it’s actually very interesting to them. The scent reveals a lot of information for the dog which would be necessary to survive in the wild.

Your dog will never understand why it is wrong to do his business inside the house, he will just accept that it is and adapt to learned patterns.

That’s why potty training is fairly simple.

Instead of showing your dog all the spots where he shouldn’t go potty, you just lead him to the one spot you would like him to use, reinforced by a reward.

The Myth of the “Guilty Look”

Dog displaying the guilty look

You just came home from a long working day, step into your bedroom and you see a little gift on the floor.

Your dog is sitting beside it with a grinning smile, laid back ears, puppy eyes and a nervous tail wag – the “guilty” look.

Well because he is displaying all of these expressions, he must know what he has done wrong, right?

Not exactly.

Dogs are reacting to what we are emoting. They are particularly apt at sensing our emotions.

When you come in angry and yelling, he will be displaying a fearful and uncomfortable body language that he has learned to show.

Dogs are only connecting the reaction to an action within 3 seconds. Any longer and he will have no clue what you are talking about.

That’s why it is so important to catch a dog right in the act in order to correct a behavior.

If you repeatedly punish your dog for things he did two hours ago, you will see the “guilty face” more and more often because he will connect the pattern of:

You coming home = angry owner (not pooping inside the house.)

When you are coming home and your dog is welcoming you with an uncomfortable face you may think: “oh what has he done today? let’s look and find it”.

But this is a sign that you have really overdone it and your dog is fearing your arrival every day.

Don’t be discouraged now! You can definitely change that connection by simply counterconditioning your dog to your home arrival.

It’s always best to walk calming into your house and ignore your dog for the first few minutes.

Now, this might sound cruel but it’s showing your dog another behavior that is calm and friendly.

Coming home all excited and giving pets and kisses could push your dog the other way and those well-meant affections may lead to separation anxiety.

If your dog is calm himself and neither scared nor excited, you can stroke him or give him a few treats which will help to associate your arrival with something positive.

You can also work on the bond with your dog daily and spend quality time together, going on adventures or learning new things.

Why Is My Dog Pooping in the House Suddenly?

One reason for your dog to suddenly poop inside the house is the change of weather.

Cold winters or rainy days may prevent your dog from being able to eliminate himself outside.

When he walks into his warm and comfortable home, he feels relieved and… relieves himself.

This is why I had so many problems housebreaking my puppy in the beginning because it happened in the middle of December and the snow was just too strange and too cold for her.

Your dog might also be a nervous pooper. Sudden changes in schedule or the loss of a loved one can quickly throw off any dog.

Even though your dog is potty trained, digestive issues cannot be held back. Before you label anything on him, schedule a visit with the vet to rule out any underlying diseases.

A dog pooping inside the house can also be a form of marking territory, even though marking with urine is more common.

Think about how you have reacted to your dog in the past.

If you are yelling at him or just getting very angry every time he does something wrong, it will make him anxious and scared which could cause a fearful poop.

Remind yourself that it is not the dog’s fault and he is not doing this on purpose.

Every time you see an accident on the floor, wipe it up and clean it properly with the Rocco & Roxie Supply Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator to get rid of any smell.

If your dog is always eliminating in the same spot, that might be an indicator that a bit of odor is still left.

A bored dog might also start pooping inside the house. Excessive energy is another possible cause so make sure that you are providing your dog with sufficient daily physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Check out this article on boredom busters for your dog or these simple dog tricks to tire your dog out mentally.

How to Stop a Dog From Pooping in the House

Pooping inside the house when you are away is a classic sign of separation anxiety.

Watch out for any other symptoms like barking, pacing, destructive chewing or digging.

Separation anxiety means that your dog is in severe distress when being left alone which means that the symptoms should not occur when you are with him.

Severe cases can cause your dog to risk his life escaping from the house by jumping through windows or biting through doors.

You can read more about the different solutions in my complete guide to dog separation anxiety.

Fixing the anxiety will eventually stop the unwanted eliminating and it should be in your best interest that your dog is not becoming a maniac just because you went outside for 10 minutes.

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Danielle
In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

12 thoughts on “Can Dogs Spitefully Revenge Poop?”

  1. I have tried Everything re. House Training. Dog is 10 months old, 18 pounds. Bichon Frise. Benni is Not like any Bichon I have owned. I
    Think I will have to find another home for him. Makes me very sad. He does not stop moving, does not like pats, nips if try. EVERY DAY this dog defecated upon awakening outside, eats small amount and even with taking him out again, poops again inside. No signals to me. Please help me. I cannot stop him from jumping on people and he is strong.
    Has to crated. I do not wish to give him away, but am worn out from this dog. Male, neutered, good health. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Janice,

      is Benni a rescue or did you get him from a breeder when he was a puppy?

      Breeder: It’s probably a lack of training and/or extremely poor breeding
      Rescue: It depends on how long you already have him. He probably just needs more time to adjust. Even if you have him for some time already, puppies from shelters come from a dark place and need us to calmly guide them.

      I actually have blog posts for all your problems and think that reading them could really help you!
      Potty training (maybe the intervals when you take him out are not adjusted to his potty schedule. Dogs always give signals if they have to go potty, they may just be hard to read. Pacing, sniffing, leaving the room, whining, scratching door, etc.)
      Puppy biting (nipping with 10 months is actually still normal, although it should stop pretty soon if you follow my outlined steps)
      Stop your pup from jumping on people
      – Proper crate training (how to introduce the crate so your dog loves it, what the purpose of the crate is, for how long, etc.)
      How to build a strong bond with your dog (for proper communication signals)

      Introduce a clear schedule and provide boundaries, but always be respectful, fair and gentle with punishment. Do not punish in wrong situations, praise when he’s doing something good.

      You can do it! If you’ve had dogs before, it’s just a learning curve and that may be why it’s so surprising to you.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  2. I am a dog owner and I agree with what you say a little bit I’m not saying I know all but my dog shows that he has done something wrong before I even think that he pooped, and he is always happy to see me unless he did that. So I disagree on the part that says a dog can not have emotions. They may not use them as we do so we don’t understand.

    Reply
    • Hey Jason, I’m not saying dog’s cannot have emotions, they certainly do. It’s just that dogs don’t have the same set and range of emotions like we humans do. If your dog approaches you submissive, fearful or whatever you want to call it, might just be that your dog has learned the pattern of what happened in the past.

      They don’t connect them pooping somewhere with you being angry, but if they do poop somewhere a couple of days in a row or even just occasionally and you get home and are angry, they’ll connect their owner coming home = angry owner. So in a way, a dog could be confused and show remorse even before something happened but not because they did something wrong but because you’ve been angry at them in the past after coming home.

      That’s just one limited example of many. They do have emotions and it’s important to observe how we as dog owners handle these situations.

      Reply
  3. Have 12yo lab. Daughter brings her new puppy to visit. After they leave, our lab poops on floor. Normally never does this. Why??

    Reply
    • Hey Cheryl, it could be that the pooping on the floor is unrelated to the puppy’s visit and just coincidentally happens after he leaves. Maybe your older Lab gets excited or even stressed and relieves himself afterward when the tension falls flat.

      Either way, it could be a medical issue or plain old aging and not being able to hold the bladder for very long. Having your dog checked out by a vet is the best way to go. You can also check your dog’s body language for any signs that he’s about to go.

      To avoid the pooping from happening in the future, it’s probably best to bring him outside right after play or a visit in general, just like your daughter does with her pup now :).

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  4. I have a gsd puppy 12 weeks old and she is very intelligent but she keeps pooing and peeing in my house! I take her for constant walks she doesn’t show me a sign to say I need to go how can I fix this before she gets bigger please.

    Reply
    • Hey Peggy, you’ve probably just brought your GSD pup home in the last couple of weeks, so it’s totally normal that she’s not fully potty trained yet. I got my Rottweiler puppy at 8 weeks of age and she was pretty well potty-trained around 4 months.

      I’d recommend you read my article on potty training for puppies. If you patiently and consistently bring her outside in regular intervals, you should be fine. Take her out after play, naps, drinking/eating and every couple of hours at max.

      Maybe she’s showing subtle signs like sniffing (searching for a spot) or pacing around? It’s not always that they approach the door and make a clear little bark :).

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  5. I have a question our 18 month rescue mix 8 lbs has started to poop in our neighbors home They have a male 3 yr. old our pet is female They are great friends and play together share toys and treats. Do you have any idea why this happens Thank you

    Reply
    • Hey Elizabeth, that really depends on how long you already have your rescue. If he was just recently rescued, it may just have been an accident and potty-training still takes a bit of time.

      Of course, it could just plainly be excitement (although peeing is more common) or even a medical issue behind not being able to hold the bladder or even poop in. Marking is another possibility but without more information on the background, I would check if she’s potty-trained first and then see if it could be something serious or just plain old excitement.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  6. I’m sorry. This is totally BS. Dogs do revenge poop. How do I know? I have experienced it first hand. We have two mini poodles. Beyond smart. They were both potty trained at a very young age. Both have revenge pooped at least once. The male was about a year old. We didn’t have the female at the time. He had not pooped in the house since he was a puppy. We had a doggy door and he got used to always having access to the doggy door. He was also used to always being with us all the time. He would get really mad if we closed the door and wouldn’t let him in. One morning we decided we wanted some privacy so we closed our bedroom door. He really did not like that. He scratched at the door and barked. Once we opened the door we discovered he had pooped four times right outside the bedroom door in four areas. Solid not runny. He wasn’t sick. Separation anxiety? I don’t think so. He knew where we were. He had access to a doggy door. He was mad. He was mad that we wouldn’t let him in the room. My female had also pooped in retaliation at least twice. She has the same access to a doggy door and has been potty trained since a puppy. We have a routine were we take them to the park every morning. Two times when we weren’t able to go to the park for some reason she pooped in front of the front door. We were home. So separation anxiety? I don’t think so. It was solid so she wasn’t sick. And she had access to a doggy door. Again, she was pissed off that she didn’t get to go to the park so she pooped in retaliation. You can make any excuse you want but there really is no other reason that I can think of.

    Reply
    • Hi Emily, well in the first case it might not be full-blown separation anxiety but dogs can definitely act irrationally when stressed. Yes, he knew where you were. Yes, he had access to the outside. But still, he might’ve been distressed not to have access to your bedroom.

      In fact, that’s what happens with dogs who are peeing when excited. If trained, they do know that they can’t have access to what they want to approach (or they know that they will if one lets his dog constantly meet other dogs) and they’re potty-trained so they know where to go instead. And yet, they pee on the sidewalk.

      It’s the anxiety, excitement, uncertainty, lack of safety in a certain situation that causes them to empty their bladder or even poop, not because they need to go outside. Just because your dog knows where you are, doesn’t mean he’s feeling good about that.

      I’m sure your dog is “mad” more often than once in his life and yet he only did this one single time. Maybe he learned that he’ll get access sooner or later and that’s why he didn’t repeat it, who knows. If he had learned that this “revenge pooping” works and makes you mad, he would utilize it more often.

      Not sure about the female since it’s a bit unclear. You’re saying she’s used to going to the park and because you didn’t go, she pooped in front of the door. How did she know the first time that she will not be going to the park? You think she somehow recognized that this not a park day and decided to poop in retaliation? That’s quite unlikely because she might have just needed to go and the confusion around whether or not she’ll go to the park caused her to poop.

      Dogs are habitual animals. They strive on routine. If that routine is broken, they do things that seem irrational to us.

      Also, dogs have nothing to gain out of being spiteful. Nothing. Getting us mad? Everyone who’s worked with a dog knows that the positive reinforcement outweighs the satisfaction of this. Every dangled your dog’s favorite treat/toy in front of him? They want to please, not annoy. Some other animals like apes are able to display some degree of these behaviors, but it hasn’t yet surely be observed in dogs.

      Thanks for your thoughts,
      Emily

      Reply

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