Covering up their own poop

Posted by hunter
Dec 8, 2009
I wonder if anyone has any experience with my situation. In October, we rescued a sweet pit mix girl from our local animal control facility where she was within 24 hours of being euthanized. She came from a situation where the people kept her tied to a tree pretty much 24/7 without food and water. Ever since we got her if she has an accident in her cage she will cover it with whatever is handy...her food dish, her water dish, her blanket, her bone, her toys. Sometimes with all of the above (she will stack one on top of the other). Does anyone have any clue as to why she might be doing this, and more importantly what we can do to get it to stop???

Posted by kjd
Dec 8, 2009
Dear Hunter,

Thanks for rescuing this poor dog. Who knows what caused this peculiar behavior. Perhaps her previous "owner" beat her whenever she was found with a mess. She may not realize it is her mess, but she certainly realized having it showing caused her to be punished. It will probably take a long time to get her trust, but it will be worth it. Work on her housebreaking. Once she only goes outside, the habit will take care of itself.

The cruelty of humans!
Posted by LetsPlay
Dec 8, 2009
Hi Hunter,

thanks for rescuing a dog.
Dogs are naturally very clean animals and try to do their business as far away from the places they use for eating and sleeping.
Dogs that are kept in cages or tied up haven't really got a chance to do that, which is very sad. It's against their nature, however if they are constantly forced to do it they will find ways to do it.
You hear of cases where dogs wee in their crates at night, some do it becuase they are too young to hold on for that long, some do it because they have a preference for weeing on blankets, some do it out of distress about being left alone, some have simply gotten used to it.

To me it sounds as though your dog is covering up the mess because she has learned that she has to live with being close to her wees and poos. Just imagine what a human would do if tied up next to their stool. I guess you would try to cover it up to get away from the smell and sight.

How old is your girl? How long does she spend in the crate?
How often does she have accidents? Perhaps you need to take her out more frequently?
When she does her business outside make sure that you praise her like crazy, so she knows that she is doing the right thing.

All the best and let us know how you get on
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Dec 8, 2009
Hi Hunter,

Thank you for rescuing the dog. I am so glad that she didn't get euthanized.

I have a different view from kjd and john:

She is covering up the mess (in fact, she doesn't think it's a mess) either, she is hiding something precious to her, or trying to spread out her smell coming out of her paws (dogs scracth the ground after peeing or pooing for this reason) and blankets and stuff just happen to get piled up on the mess.

I know a dog that licked her own pee every time she goes. It is more like self-comforting behavior.

What does she do when she pees and poos outside the house? Does she just act normally?

In order to correct that behavior, you should catch her right at the minute she actually releases herself in her crate or inside the house and reprimand and remove the mess right away. You will just have to patient and teach her she has to go business outside of the house. It has been a huge change in her life so it will take time. Good luck