Is Your Dog Suddenly Waking Up In The Middle Of Night To Poop? (Decoding The Mystery)

dog waking up in the middle of the night to poop

The one thing that really messes up my sleep is when I have to wake up at night to use the bathroom.

And not too long ago, it has been my dog who has been waking me up at 3 plus in the morning to go poop.

Our dog’s toilet schedule and habits are rather predictable.

But what if your dog has been needing to poop in the middle of the night? Is something amiss?

Your dog’s toilet habits can be influenced by underlying medical issues, its diet and behavior-related factors. You will need to identify the root cause and implement appropriate solutions to restore your dog’s normal nighttime routine. This will help to ensure a peaceful sleep for both you and your dog.

In this article, we’ll delve into the possible reasons behind this peculiar behavior and offer practical solutions to help both you and your dog

Your Dog Is A Poop Machine

Is your dog one that happens to poop more than the average dog?

Most dogs are fine going 1-2 a day but if yours has to poop more than that daily, it could just be your dog’s own natural bowel rhythm.

That doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your dog.

It could just have active bowels.

I am in awe of people that can poop once a day and not think about using the toilet again.

Anything less than twice a day for me is below my yearly average.

If your dog is still a puppy, you need to expect that it will be needing to use the toilet more often.

Puppies need to eat a lot and they eat often.

Furthermore, a puppy doesn’t have good toilet control as an adult dog.

For every month old the puppy is, it can hold it for an hour.

This means that a 5 month old puppy will probably need to poop every 5 hours.

Gastrointestinal Problems

“This is when your dog’s intestines or digestive system are inflamed.”

dog cross section

A stomach issue is usually one of the most common reasons that are making your dog poop in the middle of the night.

You might not have realized it but your dog could be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This is when your dog’s intestines or digestive system are inflamed.

This inflammation will damage the lining of the digestive system and prevents the dog food from being digested properly.

The root causes of IBD aren’t exactly known yet but scientists think that it could be due to genetics, food allergies or bacterial/parasitic infestation.

Dogs with this condition can suffer from chronic diarrhea, chronic vomiting, weight loss and pooping clear liquid.

Another similar condition that affects the dog’s digestion process would be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This stomach issue is also widespread among humans.

IBS is caused when the dog’s intestinal muscles don’t work effectively which leads to chronic diarrhea or constipation.

Causes of IBS in dogs are mainly due to stress or an upset stomach not being agreeable with certain foods.

This thing about IBS is that it can come and go rather suddenly which can make the dog feel gassy and bloated.

Dogs that are experiencing such gastrointestinal problems can feel a strong urge to poo in the middle of the night.

Your Dog’s Diet

Your dog’s diet can play a major in its pooping schedule.

If you have recently made a change in your dog’s diet such as transitioning your dog from kibbles to raw or canned food, the sudden change can affect your dog’s stomach.

Whenever you make a switch in your dog’s diet, it needs to be done slowly over a period of time to allow the dog’s body to adjust.

Do not just feed your dog the new diet all in one meal.

If you have been feeding your dog dry food since its puppy days and wish to upgrade to a raw meat diet, slowly mix in the raw meat with the dry food over each meal.

When I made the change from wet food to raw meat for my dog, it took about a month.

Taking it slow also allows dog parents to watch out for any unknown food allergies.

Besides changing to another type of diet, feeding your dog poor-quality food can affect your dog’s pooping frequency.

By using better quality dog food that has better ingredients, it allows your dog’s body to absorb the nutrients more efficiently which means less pooping.


“There are dogs that are also afraid of loud sounds such as fireworks or sirens.”

Similar to humans, our dogs can suffer from anxiety disorders as well. All dog breeds can suffer from anxiety and it is a common emotion for our furry friends.

What we do not want is for this anxious emotion to snowball into something that starts to affect our dog’s health and quality of life.

Here are some ways that can trigger an anxious dog:

  • Fear
  • Separation anxiety

Fear-related anxiety is brought about by putting your dog in a new environment.

The unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells will send your dog’s anxiety into overdrive.

There are dogs that are also afraid of loud sounds such as fireworks or sirens.

If your dog has fear-related anxiety, it might be too distracted by what’s happening around it to poo during the evening walk.

It will wait until it’s late at night when everything is nice and quiet.

Separation anxiety is rather common in many of our dogs with some showing more severe symptoms.

These dogs can start to get very unsettled when they are not around their owners.

This can lead to unwanted behaviors like pooing and peeing inside the house or destroying stuff at home.

Old Age

As adult dogs get older, they might start to have health-related issues due to their old age that can affect when and how they poo.

A senior dog is more prone to having joint and arthritis issues.

This makes movements like squatting to poo a lot more challenging now.

This lack of mobility in the joints of senior dogs could be making them unreluctant to poo and will hold it in for as long as possible.

When your senior dog wakes you up in the middle of the night to poop, your dog probably can’t hold it in any longer.

Senior dogs may not have the fortitude to hold in their poo till morning any longer due to bowel incontinence.

There are times when I feel the urge to poo in the middle of the night but will just sleep it off.

It might be a different story if I am a lot older.

Older dogs that suffer from Alzheimer’s can forget their house training and toilet schedule.

They might end up pooing inside the house or whenever they feel like it.

Free Feeding

This is something that I’ve noticed with dog owners that leave out dry food for their dogs to ‘graze’ at will throughout the day

This isn’t a healthy feeding option as most dogs are greedy and tend to overeat. This will make them obese and suffer from many health problems.

Another more dangerous scenario is your dog gorging on all of the food at once which can lead to canine bloat. Bloating is a very painful and uncomfortable condition for a dog.

In severe cases, the dog can even die from it.

Dogs that are allowed access to food all the time might eat more in the evening and have to poop in the middle of the night.

Not Enough Excercise

Dogs that get adequate exercise and playtime during the day won’t tend to wake up in the middle of the night to poop.

When dogs are asleep, their digestive system will slow down and they won’t really feel the urge to poop.

But if all that your dog does during the day is eat and sleep, that isn’t healthy at all for the dog.

Lack of exercise for a dog can lead to constipation or infrequent bowel movements.

How Do You Stop Your Dog From Pooping At Night?

If your dog is consistently waking you up to go potty at night, consider implementing the following strategies.

Visit The Vet

This would be the very first thing that I would do if there had been such a drastic change in my dog’s pooping schedule.

If this change has been ongoing then your dog needs to be checked by the vet.

Don’t attempt to diagnose the dog on your own.

The vet might need to run some tests and scans on your dog just to be sure there aren’t any underlying health-related reasons.

Seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.

Calm Your Dog Down

“Anti-anxiety medication is another way that can help your dog while it is being trained.”

If your dog has behavioral problems due to an anxiety disorder, you will need to find ways to keep your dog calm.

There are certain training methods that can help your dog cope better with anxiety.

One way is to practice counter-conditioning on your dog. Assuming that your dog is well-trained, you can get it to focus on you and not on the event that is triggering its anxiety.

Another effective method is to desensitize your dog to whatever is making it anxious.

Do it in small doses and do not dump your dog in the ‘deep end’ to quicken the process. Desensitization needs to be in gradual steps to be effective.

Anti-anxiety medication is another way that can help your dog while it is being trained.

I understand that there are many dog parents that are not keen on giving their dogs such a treatment.

My take on such medication is that if taking it will improve my dog’s quality of life, I will be open to the idea.

Such medications aren’t for life and can be stopped once the dog gets better.

Set A Proper Feeding Schedule

Dogs do well if they are trained to observe a fixed feeding schedule. It helps their bodies get use to a routine which in turn will help set when they need to poo.

We as humans have our daily eating and toilet routines too and don’t deviate far from it.

Most dog owners will feed their dogs once in the morning and another time in the evening.

But for those of us that have an irregular working schedule, you can use an automated feeding machine to stick to your dog’s feeding schedule.

Just leaving out a whole bunch of food for your dog to eat for the day is bad as the food can go bad after a few hours.

If you are feeding your dog canned food, get a feeder that can accommodate ice packs to keep the food fresh.

For dogs on a raw food diet, I wouldn’t recommend using an automated feeder as raw food can’t stay fresh for too long.

You might have to do a hybrid diet of canned food and raw food.

Try to not feed your dog too late at night as it still needs some time to digest its food before taking a poop.

A good time for its last meal of the day would be around 5 p.m.

This will give your dog ample time and use the toilet before your bedtime.

Give Your Dog Adequate Playtime

Every dog breed requires a certain amount of daily activity, some breeds more than others.

If you are someone that can only commit less than 30mins of playtime for your dog daily, don’t get a dog breed like a corgi for your first dog.

Giving your dog the proper amount of exercise to burn off all its excess energy is important for both its mental and physical health.

Don’t be upset when your dog wakes you up late at night to use the toilet because you have not been walking your dog enough.

Retrain Your Dog’s Toilet Habit

The majority of dogs would have been house trained by the time they are adults. It might come very naturally for us but for dogs, it is a learned habit.

It is normal for a dog to ‘forget’ its toilet training from time to time.

Dogs that or still young or getting older can have the occasional of mind.

Make it a point to start retraining your dog to adhere to its old toilet habits.

Take it outside to poo and pee before bedtime and lavish it with prasie after it is done.

There’s no telling how long it will take your dog to get comfortable with its new schedule so please be more patient with your furry friend.

Do Dogs Revenge Poop?

dog grinning

Is your dog messing with your sleep because you have been cutting down on its treats?

Rest assured that when dogs wake up in the middle of the night to poop, they are not doing it out of revenge or anger.

In fact, dogs are incapable of such emotions as revenge or bearing grudges. It is common for us humans to impose our emotions on our pets.

When your dog wakes you up at night to poop, it does so because it needs to poop.


When nature calls, we have to go. Unlike humans, most dogs will have to do their business outside of the house.

If your dog wakes you up to answer the call of nature, do not be angry or worse, go back to sleep and ignore your dog.

You will find a large pile of dog poo in your room if you were to do that.

The important thing to note here is how often your dog is doing this. If it is a one-off event, I wouldn’t be too worried about it.

However, if this behavior has been persisting for some time now, please get your dog to the vet for a proper checkup.