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7 Reasons Your Dog Is Waking Up at Night to Poop (and Tips for Fixing It)

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Remember when your dog was a puppy? They would wake you up at all hours of the night whining and wanting to play.

You didn’t mind it back then because they were adorable and you were still riding the high of having a new dog in your home. That feeling doesn’t last forever, though, and sooner or later waking up in the middle of the night gets very old.

A lot of dog owners report that their dogs wake up in the middle of the night to poop. If you’ve got a doggy door, it’s no big deal. But for people living in an apartment, that means throwing a coat on and grabbing the leash for a 2 AM walk outside.

Dogs poop in the middle of the night for several reasons.

Shiba inu dog on its cozy dog couch with large potted plants on the background at home

By far the most common reason, however, is lack of training. It takes a lot of work to train your dog.

You could also be feeding them at the wrong time so they have to go in that specific late-night window. Nerves can also be another reason for the lack of bowel control.

Here are 7 reasons your dog is waking you up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and what you can do about it.

Reason 1 – They’re Nervous!

Labrador retriever lying down against illuminated living room

Unless you’ve got some miracle dog with nerves of steel, your dog could be having to go late at night because of anxiety.

Maybe they’re sleeping somewhere that scares them or they hear strange noises outside that scare them.

We hear stories all of the time about pro athletes or motivational speakers who have to use the toilet before they get on the big stage. Nerves definitely play a factor when it comes to our bowels, as well as the bowels of your dog.

Think about where they are sleeping and what’s going on at night to get to the root of the problem.

Reason 2 – They Ate Dinner Too Late

golden retriever dog eating pet food from metal bowl at home

What time are you feeding your dog? If you think about it, it’s only natural for a person or an animal to use the bathroom at a specific interval after eating.

It’s your job as your dog’s caregiver to know that window and assign an accommodating mealtime.

If it takes around five hours for your dog to poop after they eat, for example, then maybe you don’t want to feed them dinner at 8 PM.

Feed your puppy early enough that they will want and need to go poop before bedtime.

Reason 3 – Low Expectations

Woman go out with her dog in city at night

Maybe your dog is manipulating you. Maybe they like going for walks late at night when no one else is around and it’s just you and them. Dogs are smart, and they know how to take advantage of situations.

If you’ve set low expectations with your dog, then it’s on you to change this bad behavior.

You need to train them to poop on a schedule as long as you’re doing everything else right on your part.

If necessary, you can put them in a crate at night to let them know that you’re not going out on a walk at 1 AM tonight, and if they’re going to poop, they’re going to be sleeping with it all night.

Again, humans need to make sure all of the conditions for a normal pooping schedule are in place first.

Reason 4 – They Weren’t Outside Long Enough

young female hugging funny Beagle while sitting on lawn on sunny weekend day in park

Sometimes dog owners, especially new owners, don’t know how long they need to stay outside with their dog before they’ll poop. Every dog is different. Younger dogs will likely need more exercise before they are comfortable enough pooping.

Older dogs, though, can often take a few steps outside and let it all out. Don’t make the mistake of staying outside for just five minutes and thinking maybe your dog doesn’t need to poop today after all.

Stay outside and take them for as long as an hour to get the bowels moving and the poop will come.

Reason 5 – They Aren’t On a Schedule

Couple Walking Dog Along Suburban Street

Dogs like training and they like routine. They are pleasers and want to know what to expect. One of the reasons your dog may not poop on a walk and will wake you up when you’re sleeping is that they don’t know what the schedule is.

If possible, start taking your dog on a walk at around the same time every evening before you go to bed.

This will become like a signal to your dog that says, “Hey, it’s time to poop now!” They’ll get the hint and the evening pre-bedtime poop will become part of their daily routine.

Reason 6 – They Are Sick

Golden retriever dog under plaid on the bed

What about the dog that poops before bed but then needs to poop again in the middle of the night?

Some dogs have to poop multiple times during the night. That’s not normal. You may want to take them to the vet to see if they are sick.

You can also tell by the consistency of their stool if something’s not right. Diarrhea and late-night pooping can happen if your dog eats the wrong thing while you’re not looking, but it should not persist.

If the late pooping and diarrhea continue, you should get them to the vet for a checkup.

Reason 7 – They Are Still Young

cute brown Brussels griffon puppy yawn and sits on a wooden ladder

How old your dog is will play a big factor in how often they wake up in the middle of the night to go poop. These days, a ton of people are adopting dogs, and it’s often hard to tell exactly how old a rescue dog is.

It could be that your dog is younger than you think, and is still growing and learning your routine.

All you can do at this point is to give them some more time to grow into a schedule. Be patient with their learning and, when they go poop at a normal time outside, be sure to give them lots of positive reinforcement to drive home the point.

Let them know that it’s what you expect and reward them for good behavior.

Final Words

Hopefully, following these tips will help you and your dog cut down on the late-night walks that cause havoc to your schedule.

Be patient with your dog and make sure they know what you expect of them. They are animals that are eager to please so you should be able to get them on a schedule in no time.