Dog won't poop in the yard

My Dog Will Only Pee or Poop if I Take Him For A Walk

Yes, you read that right!

This is a rare problem, but it’s one that comes up every now and then in the emails I get.

For whatever reason, the dog “holds it” and won’t poop in the yard until the owner takes him for a walk. He refuses to go to the bathroom in the yard. He will only pee or poop on walks.

You might be thinking, smart dog!

Yes, it’s very possible the dog figured out if he pees right away he gets taken right back inside. However, if he holds it longer he gets to be outside longer.

Of course, the real problem would be if he starts going to the bathroom in the house because he doesn’t want to go in the yard. Hopefully you’re not having that problem. If so, then it’s time to go back to the basics and treat him like he’s not potty trained. Also see my post: How long does it take to potty train a puppy?

Dog won’t pee or poop in the yard

My dog refuses to pee in the yard - Dog won't poop in the yard

Possible reasons your dog won’t go potty or poop in the yard

  • He’s distracted in the yard. (Neighbor dogs, certain smells, noises, he’s looking for other family members)
  • He doesn’t like the surface in the yard (or the potty area of your apartment complex), whether it’s woodchips, wet grass, dirty snow, etc.
  • She doesn’t like the smells from so many other dogs (if you’re in an apartment) or from himself (if you have a small yard).
  • He doesn’t want to step in the pee or smells from other dogs or from himself.
  • Your dog prefers to pee on bushes vs. grass & there aren’t any bushes in the yard.
  • He feels like your small yard is an extension of the house (his “den”) & he doesn’t want to soil the area.
  • He’s never had a yard before so this is new to him – Perhaps he peed only on concrete at a shelter or only on walks in a past apartment home.
  • Some dogs need to run around a bit before they have to poop!

Can anyone think of any other reasons why a dog will only poop on walks? I’m sure there are many.

One related issue is some dogs just can’t seem to go potty while on a leash if they’re used to going potty off leash in a yard. You might notice this with a recently adopted dog or if you’re pet sitting a dog or if you’re traveling with your dog. See this article: My dog won’t pee while on a leash!

You might feel like it’s taking your dog forever to go, but really he’s just not used to peeing while on a leash. If that’s the case, I find that a retractable leash or a long leash helps so you can give the dog a little more space & freedom.My dog refuses to pee in the yard

What to do if your dog won’t go potty or poop in the yard

The first step is to try to figure out why your dog is “holding it.” Hopefully some of the above bullet points can help. If it’s a new environment, just try to be patient and remember to reward him for going potty in the right place.

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Here are some additional tips for getting your dog to poop in the yard:

1. Use the walk as a reward!

Stand with him for 5 or 10 minutes in the yard until he goes. Then take him for a walk as a reward! Even if it’s just a 5-minute walk. If he doesn’t poop or pee, then head back inside. No walk.

Also, don’t end his walks or head for home as soon as he pees. Keep walking for a bit. The fun shouldn’t end because he peed or pooped.

2. Give him 10 minutes to poop in the yard and then head back inside

If he doesn’t go poop in the yard, then take him back inside. Put him in a kennel/crate if you’re worried he’ll have an accident. Then take him outside again in a half-hour. Repeat as needed.

I realize you only have so much time in a day, especially if you’re trying to get ready for work, but that’s what I’d recommend if at all possible. Most dogs will go if they have to.

When he finally does pee or poop in the yard, give a treat immediately and head out for a walk as a reward!

*If you like this article, we’d love to send you other helpful training tips in our weekly newsletter. Click Here.

Walking my dogs Remy and Ace

3. Use highly valued treats

Go back to some basics and reward your dog with highly valued food for peeing/pooping in the yard. Use jerky treats, real chicken, string cheese, hot dogs, whatever he loves! And try to walk him as a reward when you can.

4. Try not to get frustrated if your dog won’t poop in the yard

I used to get mad at my dog Ace when he wouldn’t poop in the yard. I’d be like, “Hurry up!” in a mean voice. My obvious frustration caused him to feel tense and stressed and maybe even afraid of me and then he wouldn’t go to the bathroom for sure! Today I know I have to be patient and positive with him. He’s sensitive. 🙂

5. Does he need to move around?

Some dogs really need to jog around a bit in order to, shall we say, get things moving in order to poop! This is annoying because nearly every dog I take running will poop about two minutes into the run! That’s just the way it is!

If you think your dog needs to move around a bit, try tossing the ball or chasing him around the yard. He might poop then!

As I mentioned above, often simply using a long leash or retractable leash will allow your dog to move around and … “get things moving.” Or, if the dog just needs some space/”privacy” then the longer leash helps with that too.

6. Another option – plan regular walks

Believe it or not, some people actually train their dogs not to poop in the yard. They do so if they want to keep the yard cleaner.

So, it’s probably not the end of the world if you have to take your dog for a walk two or three times per day to give him a chance to poop. Just plan the walks at regular times, and it’s really no big deal. Your dog will get used to going to the bathroom on this routine. If you need poop bags, I highly recommend the earth friendly bags from Earth Rated.

Me walking my dog Remy

How to teach your dog to pee or poop on command

It’s helpful to teach your dog a phrase that signals to go to the bathroom. That way, you can communicate to your dog what you want her to do when you’re in a hurry or when you’re in a new environment. For example, some dogs are unsure about where to go potty when traveling. Silly dogs!

First, pick a phrase you want to use to signal to your dog to go to the bathroom. I use “hurry.” You could say, “go potty” or whatever phrase you want to use.

Start out by giving this command when you know your dog is about to go potty or when you’re in the area she normally goes. As soon as she’s going, say, “Hurry” and praise your dog with a treat.

Eventually, you will be able to say “hurry” and your dog will understand what to do.

I have not trained my dog two separate words for peeing and pooping, but I’m guessing some people have successful trained two different commands.

So those are my ideas. I know this is a strange topic but it really is a fairly common problem!

Have any of you dealt with this issue of the dog refusing to poop in the yard? How did you solve it?

My dog refuses to poop in the yard

Let me know in the comments what has worked for you!

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Our favorite dog products that can help:

  1. High valued treats:
    I recommend Zuke’s minis training treats.
  2. Long leash:
    A long leash helps the dog move around and gives her more “personal space.”
  3. Earth Rated bags:
    These are the best poop bags! They are earth friendly and durable!

Related posts:

How to potty train an adult dog

Stop my dog from peeing in the crate

How to train my dog to use pee pads

Stop a dog from marking in the house

80 thoughts on “My Dog Will Only Pee or Poop if I Take Him For A Walk”

  1. I’ve heard of this problem. In a way, Maya does something similar to this. She will go in the yard, though. She is actually very regulated and usually goes at a certain times of the day. Like clockwork, she poops right after breakfast and one more time after dinner. But what’s funny is that even though she goes on schedule nearly every single day, somehow she manages to find the extra poop to also go when I take her on a walk–even if she poops right before her walk! This is part of the reason for her nickname, Poopers.

    1. I have actually watched Toby poop in the yard so I could take him for a walk but he always manages to squeeze out more when we walk. And it’s usually close to the beginning of the walk so I have to carry the poop bag for almost the entire walk!!!

      1. My beagle will not pee or poop in the yard. If I take him for a walk which is not a problem but the he doesn’t want to come home. I have to pull and also pick him up. It’s a big pain in the butt. What can I do? He is a rescue dog that I’ve had for 3 weeks now.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          That does sounds frustrating, I’m sorry to hear that! Instead of walking away from the house and turning the way you came, could you possibly do a short loop? Then maybe he wouldn’t feel like he’s turning around. You could try bringing treats or a squeaky toy. Hopefully things will get better with time as he adjusts to your routine. Is your yard fenced?

  2. Our dogs have no problem going in the yard, but I bet it would come up for at least one of them if we added another dog to the family (or it would be an issue for the new dog). One of our dogs (now passed) experienced this when he first joined our family – so we pooped and pee’d in the garage.

  3. You said: 2. Give him 10 minutes to go and then head back inside.

    Routine is so important to sensitive dogs. The order of things here each morning is: pee, then food, then water, an hour to settle, then 45+ minutes jogging with the fuax Gator (old riding mower sans deck) at around 4-5 mph (which typically elicits a poop).

    Less frequently she will withhold the pee, so we start with 20 minutes circling a small area, then 15 minutes, then 10 minutes, etc. with an hour between. Might take all day, but these episodes are dwindling.

    This cycle is repeated for evening, with the Doggy Dad providing 20-30 minutes of hard romping for The Girls in place of the jogging, with short trips only as needed.

    This routine allows time away to run errands and, in an emergency, call in a dog walker who follows this simple list.

    Barking is relatively rare now.

  4. Yeah, smart dog 🙂 Everybody should walk their dogs rather than just shove them in the yard. Apartment dogs have an advantage this way. But it is good to have a dog who will go in the yard as well if needed be.

    We never had problems with dogs going to potty in the yard. There was a bit of a problem with Jasmine – with her gut issues she needed the movement of the walk to be able to go. We walked her daily so it wasn’t a problem, she typically went to poo just once a day unless she had diarrhea. But when she was restricted after surgeries or rehabbing from something and wasn’t allowed to go for walks, it was a problem getting her system emptied.

      1. i missed the part where Jana said she intentionally didn’t carry poop bags just to be rude. yes, that was definitely there… not. it is rude indeed to LEAVE your dogs #2 in someone else’s yard. incredibly rude and i wish upon everyone who does that their favorite shoes covered in someone else’s dog’s crap. but seeing the poor woman didn’t give any indication Jana didn’t pick up after her pup. her pup with MEDICAL ISSUES that required walking awhile to get her system moving. YOU, F, are the actual rude one.

  5. I adopted an adult Bischon 3 years ago. I’ve never been able to get him to go in the yard, or even in the same spot. Now I’m struggling because I have an ankle injury that will involve extensive surgery. I’m trying to train him before the procedure. I can’t afford a dogwalker. How long should I let him go without pooping?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would just give him 10 minutes to go and if he doesn’t then head back inside and keep him on a leash by you or in a kennel. Then head out again on your terms. He’ll go eventually if he has to!

  6. I am having this problem as well. My nine year old LabX is having ACL surgery in a few days. He always has loved his walks and did his business along the way. He will not go in the yard. After surgery, his mobility will be very limited and I am at a loss. I have been working with treats and taking him out every hour on leash, but he has not peed now in 24 hours. Will talk to the Vet about this but interested in advice and experiences here. I am wondering if it is painful lifting that leg.

  7. My shih Tzu is having the same issue. Not all year, but just in the summer. She walks aimlessly around the back yard and then stopping and staring at me. Even pretending to go! If I get out the leash she’s all about going 3 or 4 times on the walk. I’m so confused and tired of being frustrated. But I don’t want to walk her 5 times a day – go out back and poop!!!

    1. This is what mine do. They will stay on the porch for 30 minutes if I don’t go out with them. I have a newborn, and I am more stressed about the dogs than about the baby. Have you found a solution?

  8. I adopted a Toller mix about 2mo ago, and he will not go in our yard unless he’s nearly in pain. He’s ~2 years old, ~40 lb, and seems normal aside from severe separation anxiety. I believe we’re at 4 times that he’s gone 30+ hours w/o going #1 or #2. He’s only gone in the yard 3 times since I’ve had him, and it was obvious he was uncomfortable (since he’d held it so long). I celebrated each time. The yard is shared with another dog, but due to the invisible fence, there are unshared areas. Plenty of grass and bushes. I’ve walked/run him around the yard for over an hour on repeated occasions, being repeated throughout the day (on days off). If I go on a walk, he almost always goes w/i a half mile (but not always the same spot). Even though I’ll take him out hourly (roughly 8am-12am), he’ll not go, until he eventually goes in his crate. The last round he went in his crate daily for 4-5 days. I’m at my whits end and considering returning him to the pet rescue. As with most people, I’m fine with walking him most of the time, but there are times when it just doesn’t work (severe weather and/or limited time).

    1. I just adopted a 5 year old shih toy who will not poop in yard but would if I walked him but now he won’t even do that , He also has separation anxiety and everyday I come home from work I have to clesn crate and him . I’m at my wits end tried everything even Prozac . I’m also getting ready to take him back where I got him if this persists

    2. Were you ever able to resolve this? We adopted a 10 year old chihuahua/terrier mix. He is a really good dog. Not a barker at all. (has separation anxiety but, that is getting better)
      He will not go in the yard. He has gone more than 24 hours without pooping. I have to give in at that point and walk, as I don’t want to cause him harm either. I have spent time walking him in the yard, up to 4 times after his morning meal. I spend about 10 minutes each time. Any other suggestions will be really helpful if you were able to resolve this! Thank You

    3. Brett I feel your pain. I just adopted an adult dog and learned that he can jump our fence. We have an electric fence now but while we waiting over month to have it installed I walked our dog. Now he only wants to go potty on walks or in the house! I have gotten him a crate and am only walking him 1 time a day vs the 4 times. The other three times he is put out in the yard but he continues to hold it the majority of the time. 🙁 We are only on day 3 with the crate and putting him in the back yard for potty breaks the majority of time. I am hoping this works!
      Jennifer

  9. My dog has never gone in our yard – this am I caught him about to go in the house right in front of me and though great he has to go we will go outside and he’ll go – no the neighbor made a loud bang and he ran back to the door so I brought him in and he ran to where he frequently sneaks to go the bathroom sure enough he starts to go as I go to get him he growls shows his teeth and tries to snip at me!!! He is 8 and has on occasion even gone the bathroom in his kennel but will not in the yard!!!!

  10. kimberly ourlian

    when do i become worried if she hasnt gone all day…my dog, a Shepherd rescue has gone before in the yard and yes i did praise her..but now its been almost 24 hours since she has gone potty..and i dont like taking her for walks..i just moved to a new area and i am having issues with my neighbors even tho i pick up her poop,

  11. He just went out after 17 hours and still never peed till I walked him. Do you all think it will hurt his bladder or bowels?
    Worried

    1. Did you ever get an answer to your question? My beagle (of 4 weeks) is doing the same,and it’s driving me crazy! Thanks.

  12. Hi all, so I have a little Shih tzu who is 5 years old. He never had issues pooping in our backyard til we moved to a house who had no grass in the backyard, it was all bricks. We now live in a house that has grass but he still won’t go.
    We started taking him for walks every single day and he poops during his walks but the problem Im having is that sometimes I take him at night and by then he’s been holding it all morning and afternoon so I really would like him to go in our yard in the morning but he’s refusing. Its become a big deal because its not healthy for him to do this and he got sick once from holding it- wasnt eating, kept eating grass and got constipated. Im 100% sure this was from holding it.
    I don’t know what to do. Sometimes during his walks he will go after 30 mins and its so frustrating.
    Have you tried anything that worked? Is there a type of food that will make him go???

    1. Hi Bec, that does sound frustrating and I’m not sure what you can do. Do you feed him at specific times so you can somewhat plan when he’ll need to “go”? How long have you lived in your new house?

  13. I’m having this issue as well. Adopted a 2 year old terrier mix and she will only go potty after being walked 30+ mins. I give her daily walks after work, but in the morning I don’t have time. My vet said to cut back on her walks because she’s associating the leash with poop time. So I’m trying the 10 mins outside, back in the crate. It’s even 24+ hours and nothing…I’m losing my mind. Hopefully she gets into eventually

  14. please help we have recently adopted a great rat /jack russell terrier from our local shelter she will not do her business in our yard unless we walk her I’ve tried the 10 min rule did not work tried the bring poop back from walk and put it in the yard still won’t go in the yard and treats as soon as she goes on the way its been 2 weeks now

  15. Oh my gosh – I hope someone is still reading this thread. I recently spent a small fortune putting up fencing after my dog monty injured his CCL and had to have surgery. He is 5 years old and I got him from a rescue when he was only 6 months old. All his life he has had the freedom of an expansive countryside to run and roam (mostly all forest) but now that the fence is up (around 600 ft of it!) he absolutely WILL NOT GO! Not even a pee!

    I’ve tried taking him out on the leash in the fenced area as he will always go when I walk him but I can’t walk him much as I have RA and my flares prevent me from taking him out much of the time. But now I am just in a horrible state of mind not knowing what on earth to do. I thought about taking some of his poo and moving it into the fenced area but read here that that didn’t seem to work.

    If anyone has any other suggestions please do let me know. This was an extreme expense for me but so happy to do it because I knew it would also keep him safe from cars (although we live in the country and he’s really good about not straying out of the woods onto the roads) I still would always worry and would go out looking for him if he wasn’t back when he normally would return.

    Thanks so much
    Tess and Monty

  16. Hi, thank you for posting this article. We have the same issue with our dog Breeze. He’s a 6 year old rescue and we are trying to break the 3-4 walks a day habit. All he wants to do is go for walks. I will tell you we have tried everything on the list above even placing his poop in the yard and trying to get him to smell it. We have had him for a month now. We are getting very frustrated. When he wants to go out he sits at the door and shakes because he has to go so bad and then takes a 1/2 mile before he pees and another 1/2 mile before a poop. We bought a long leash for outside to try and get him used to the yard. When we put him out on the 50’ft leash he barks then curls in a ball and refuses to walk around and pee or poop. We have tried walking around with him on the leash, nope, we have shrubs and piles of leaves for him to go, nope. He just sits there and smells the wind. We literally cannot keep taking him on mile long walks for him to go to the bathroom. We think he must have been badly abused for going to the bathroom because he afraid to outside. Any additional advice!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Can you just keep taking him outside every 20 minutes (while you’re home) until he eventually goes? Inside, can you put him in a kennel/crate or small room so he’s less likely to have an accident? I would think he would go in the yard eventually, and then really reward him with whatever he loves best when he does go! Like pieces of real steak or chicken. Just brainstorming. That’s what I would try.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Actually, I’d reward him with the food and then take him for a walk after he goes. Seems like he enjoys walks!

        1. Thanks Lindsey. My husband is home this week and we will just have to try this for a longer period of this. We have given up mid day because he just barks and cry’s in his crate when he comes in.

  17. My 1.5 year old german shephard has always peed/pooped in our back yard. We made him a pit to go in last month (we made it mulch because he has no problem going on mulch in the past) but now he wont go at all. He goes out with us so we can watch and just lays down. He waits and holds it for a walk. I haven’t taken him for a walk today to try and make him use the pit but I worry about him holding it too long. He obviously has to go.

  18. I am so glad I finally googled this problem! I can’t believe others are having the very same issue! I have a yard, though small, and my dog will not poop there. He always waits until we go for a walk and then he goes just fine! I tried just not walking…thinking eventually he would just HAVE to go. But 36 hours later, like someone else, I finally felt so bad for him I took him out for a walk. I could see how uncomfortable he was and I just ached for him. Plus, he is a mixed lab and really needs the exercise. I will keep reading this and hoping that we all end up with dogs pooping/peeing in the yard.

  19. We are having this problem as well, but none of the bullet points are helping! We have a 3 month old bulldog who just randomly decided 2 days ago to stop using the yard. For now I can take him on walks when he needs it but it’s not going to be like that forever so this really needs to not be a lifelong habit but I don’t know how to get him back to normal with it.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would stick with the 2nd one on the list .. taking him out for 10 minutes at a time and then heading back in if he doesn’t go.

  20. I am facing a very different problem: I live in Miami and hurricane Irma is on the way. How do I get my dogs, who are used to going in the yard, to go on newspaper in the garage? Any suggestions? Can’t even get out to PetSmart to get wee wee pads – don’t want to waste gas, since you can’t get that either.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear you are near the hurricane path. I’m not sure what you can do. Maybe use a word you would normally say like “go potty” or “hurry up” and reward them with treats if they do go.

  21. I have a yard, a doggy door, and 2 dogs, my pug mix will use the yard, my 11 year old Portuguese Podengo will hold it for days! She not only needs a walk but a big adventure to boot! I generally walk them twice a day but sometimes circumstance doesn’t allow for 2 walks, help

  22. Julie Aungst-Collins

    We just moved into a new home. Our backyard is all rock and our dog doesn’t like it. We had grass at our last home and he did his business no problem. We plan to landscape the backyard, but until we do, he needs to learn to go the way it is. We went out today and bought a small 6×6 patch of a artificial grass for him. We walked him out to it, and he loved to roll around on it,but he still didn’t do his business. We just can’t take him out on walks to get him to go all the time. What do we do?

  23. harry and sydney

    help! i have a 7 year old schnoodle that i adopted from a shelter when he was 2. sydney has had severe separation anxiety, but i usually take him to work. we are together 24 hours a day usually. a month ago we moved from an apartment, where i walked him 3 times a day. he was completely housebroken and rarely had an accident. i bought a house with a large fenced yard and we moved in over a month ago.
    when we were still living at the apartment and coming over to do remodeling, he peed freely in the yard and i saw him poop twice. since we moved in, he rarely pees and has not pooped yet.
    he does run around in the yard and seemingly enjoys it. i go out with him each time. ( otherwise, he would just come back in )
    it is a battle of wills. he wants a walk and i want him to use the yard.
    i work 4 days a week, with 3 days in a row off. for those 3 days, he will hold it until at least the second, but sometimes the third night but then will poop (and pee) in the house. often this occurs after i had him out for the last time, overnight. ( he now goes out about 6 times a day, for extended periods )
    i have tried taking the poop from the house and ‘spiking’ the yard with it, and i show it to him. that hasn’t even been an incentive. he is peeing in the yard more, but still not pooping. i have even tried walking him around the yard on his leash. nothing seems to work.
    finally, i have walked him for the last time before bed across the street in an empty lot. the first time he pooped there twice, but not since. he keeps staring down the street, letting me know that is where he wants to go.
    i am getting arthritis and it is getting increasing difficult for me to pick up the poop on his walks, or i would.
    anyone have any advice??? i’m at my wit’s end. thank you.

    1. Harry & Sydney did you ever figure this out with your schnoode? We have a schoodle with the EXACT same issue (she held it for 34 hours and we gave in and walked her fearing she was hurting from holding it).

      1. Lived in house w yard and pet door since she was 6 weeks old
      2. Got married and moved to 3 story townhouse
      3. Retrained her to pee/poop on walls to the private dog park
      4. 4 mo later, converted the townhome patio by laying down grass in 6×6 area with very limited success so we continued the walls
      5. A month later, installed a pet door in the glass of the patio door. She goes in and out of it w a treat but won’t by herself most of the time w o incentive.
      6. The pet door is a foot and a half off the ground of the patio and 8 inches from the floor inside so we had to rig a ramp like thing for her to use it. Were wondering if this is the issue?
      7. Last night we didn’t take her on her walk before bed because we took her around 7PM. She peed and pooped on the 2nd floor of the townhome instead of going to the first floor through her pet door to the patio.
      8. She pees on the carpet on the 3rd floor where our bedroom is instead of going down to the first floor to the patio at night.

      Where are the dog whisperers?! Why aren’t they reading this post and all the cries for help on the comments?

      Help!!!

  24. I have two dogs, one is 8 years old, the other is 6 months. The older one refuses to go to the bathroom in the yard, while the younger one refuses to go to the bathroom on walks/runs. ::sigh::

  25. I am experiencing the dog who refuses to crap in the yard but now has added not crapping on walks, yet she INSISTS on going for a walk. She is healthy, not constipated, no anal gland issues and no blockages ( paid over 700.00 for tests and xrays ) She will crap in her crate overnight which is beyond frustrating because I get to clean that up EVERY MORNING!! Im seriously at my wits end and considering rehoming her because I do not have the patience to deal with this any more.

    1. My Jack Russell will not poo in the garden he insists going out. My problem is he finds the first grass verge does his poo then heads back for home. I want to go a long walk but he will not move till I head for home. What can I do.

  26. I have the opposite problem! The dog will go ONLY in the yard! Nothing happens on walks. We’re worried that if we take her out for hikes or trips there will be no way to get her to go.

  27. I don’t have a fence so I have to take my dog on a leash. It’s hard to play with him to get him to go when he’s on a leash. I was thinking he needs to run to be able to go because before I got him to run and he finally went. Maybe it’s a corgi thing? L

  28. I have the same problem. My dog will not pee or poop in the yard. He always waits for a walk. People tell me just don’t walk him, eventually he will go. But how long can I let him go without “going”? He once went 20 hours and like other people, I felt so bad I just gave in. What to do…..

  29. LizaJane Johnston

    We’ve been having this problem too. We moved from an apartment walking multiple times a day to a townhouse with a nice yard and only walking in the evenings. He can let himself go outside whenever he’d like to. He’ll pee in the yard of he has to but does not like to poop in the yard. Finally, I wasn’t sure what to do so I went on strike, no walks. The first day he whined a lot but the next day, less than 24 hrs, he pooped in the yard. I rewarded him handsomely and he got a walk later at our regular time. He’ll still go through these phases but they aren’t as often, I just revert back to training, he’s very food motivated. I’m also very lucky that he’d rather breakdown and go outside rather than go in the house.

  30. My Year Old Caviler will not go potty in the yard, AT ALL. There is two other dogs upstairs from me and they have no problem going potty where ever they want. I have done all of the above and more.
    I have fenced off a 100 sqft area just for my puppy, planted grass, and flowers, He still wouldn’t go potty. I have sat outside with him for 5 hours, nothing. He will hold it forever. He has no problem going potty in other peoples yards, even if there is other dogs there. He will even go at the dog park, even the Target Parking Lot. But when it comes to his yard nothing. I am about to somehow catch his pee, bottle it up and spray his area.

    1. Ha Ha. Yep I have tried that too! Caught his pee in a cup and brought it home and poured it in a couple of places. Still nothing. Then I went to my sister’s house and did the same with her dog, brought the pee home and poured it in different places. Still nothing. My question again is …how long can I let him hold it, waiting for him to go, until it becomes a health issue? I feel bad that he will hold it for soooo long!!

  31. I have a neighbor who is moving back to her home country but could not bring her dog. The problem is that the dog is still staying within the same neighborhood and her potty place is outside. It is quite difficult to re-train her in the yard since she knows that she should go outside.

    She does not poo or pee on the same spot, does that mean she does not find her own scent? If that is the case, what are the possible techniques that i could do to make her go in the yard? Thanks

  32. Our dog always peed and pooped in the yard and on walk. We went for a weeks vacation up north and since we’ve been back she will not go in the yard at all.
    Any reason why that could be?

  33. We have a German shepherd 14months old.We rescued him 2months ago ,he also will not go in our yard only on walks,He is very smart so I know he understands what I want him to do, he just won’t for what ever reason.We live in Wisconsin so I dont know how this winter is going to work for us.Annie

  34. Thanks for the tips. I’ve never had a problem walking my dog to get him to poop, but he was recently injured and needs to stay off his feet as much as possible so will try some of these.

  35. Finally, I found other people with my same problem. It is beyond frustrating. My 2 year old rescue refuses to pee or poop in the yard. I have grass, small rocks, many trees, cement and dirt. I guess none of it is good enough to get her to go. I have all the other readers suggestions, but still no luck. For two years I have taken her on three walks a day and it is exhausting not to mention expensive (dog walkers). If I can’t find a solution soon I am thinking about returning her to the rescue. I live in Corona Del Mar, Cal. If there is a trainer anywhere near me please contact ASAP. I’m going crazy!!!

  36. HELP!!! I get the reasoning behind all this, Lindsay, but there’s one huge problem when you have a dog who just refuses to go in the yard. dogs need EXERCISE! i have a med-high energy girl who was severely abused and traumatized by hoarders before she was rescued. she’s sensitive, VERY eager to learn, but also *seems* be be being manipulative to force walks… or i thought she was being. I’ve been trying your suggestions but all it’s done is frustrate her :(. and me! i’ve yelled at my dogs maybe 5 times in 8 years and today was one of them…. because after hours of this “procedure” she NEEDS to go but there’s something in her brain that is telling her not to go in the yard almost all of the time even with in-yard exercise. now i’m not so sure she’s being stubborn, but i HAVE to teach her to go in the yard. and i HAVE to walk her no matter whether or not she goes in the yard. it is absolutely unfair to a dog to withhold exercise and exploration as some sort of “carrot”. she needs 2 walks a day at least…. yesterday it was raining like crazy and neither of my pups wanted to walk. so now she’s gone almost 48 hours without a walk trying to “train” her to go in the yard. she did poo yesterday when i took her down the street a little bit. hardly qualified as a walk and it was in a different place than she normally goes if we’re outside the yard.

    i get that for basic NORMAL situations this is all easy. but a TON of us have posted here explaining that it’s NOT WORKING. and there’s either no response at all from you or just say to do step whatever…. WE HAVE BEEN! please, if you don’t know how to handle a dog who’s struggling just admit that these steps are for NORMAL situations where training is easy and happens in a short time without depriving our babies of exercise or making them hold it for dangerous amounts of time following your advice and you DON’T KNOW how to handle the tough cases. if you DO know how to handle them, why aren’t you doing something besides repeating yourself as if we’re idiots who haven’t already TRIED your procedure??? what do you want, money or something? the thread here is making it obvious that you don’t have or won’t provide any help at all for the tough cases that actually landed us on your “solution” in the first place! please, clarify what the real deal is here and help or admit you don’t have any real advice. thank you.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to read this comment from you, A.K.

      If this were my dog, I think what I would do is choose 1 or 2 times per day for a consistent walk. Yes, the dog will relieve herself during that time, but for all other times I would just take her back indoors after the allowed 5 minutes. Each dog has different exercise needs so believe me I understand some need a ton of exercise. I have a weim and I think if I had this issue with a weim I would probably do a 90-min walk or run once a day in the morning.

      Best of luck to you.

  37. Teresa Lynn Hamilton

    We rescued a 7 yr. old dog who didn’t want to leave the house to go outside to the yard, or a walk. We solved the yard issue by always going out with him and not being closer to the door than he was (or he’d run to the door). He resisted a walk but over time (with treats etc.) he reluctantly walked behind us. He sensed the return home and then he walked in front leading the way. He had some baggage but we were able to figure him out and we had 7 wonderful years with that sweet boy. I’ll always miss him!

  38. I have acquired a 5 yr old chihuahua from a breeder.
    She point blank refuses to pee in the small back yard but weeds on walks usually in the same spot.
    I don’t think she is doing it in the house.
    I have tired buying small bits of synthetic & real lawn & putting her wee on it.
    I’ve sat outside for several hours when I know she hasn’t weed for at least 12 hours.
    It is not always conveni not to go walkies 3 times per day.
    She flies in & out of the doggy door.
    Any further suggestions.

    1. Hey Sandria,

      First off, you note that your doggie usually goes in the same place on walks. Is it grass, dirt, rock, combo? Could be your pup just has a real aversion to peeing on grass for some reason. Assuming the spot isn’t grass and isn’t in the middle of someone’s yard, take a doggie bag and scoop up some of that soil/rocks after she pees and bring it back to your yard. Let her sniff as you deposit it in a good spot in your yard.

      Unfortunately, unless you are close friends with the breeder, it’s very possible this baby was abused. She may have been used as a puppy creating machine and nothing more. 5 years is very old for a dog acquired from a breeder to start with, so you might need to try to suss out what trauma she’s been though. Did she get in trouble for going potty in her “space”? Was that “space” 5 sq. ft. where she lived and popped out puppies and now that her “space” in the house *and yard*, she’s terrified to go potty in her new space? I hope not, but inexcusably, it seems more dogs than not have been abused.

      Second, take some treats with you on walks. As she’s finishing peeing, say “go peepee” in a gentle tone. You want those sounds to begin to mean “pee time”in her head. As soon as she stops peeing, say “Yes!” (or your choice of a marker – a word or sound used in training when she’s done something pleasing to you) and offer her a treat and lots of pets and kisses. The idea is to not only start associating “go peepee” with the action, but also to relax any anxiety she has about peeing and show her you approve. Once you done this every time for a few days in a row and she starts anticipating her reward for “go peepee”, start leading her over – don’t force her or pick her up and put her there, just sit by the place in your yard that you’ve put pee or the soil she likes to pee on (could even take a pee pad with you on walks and soak up pee and bring it back to the yard if the soil can’t be transferred) and excitedly call her over. when she starts sniffing around and pauses sniffing the planted scent area, say “Yes!” and offer a treat. She doesn’t need to pee, just to see that you approve of her sniffing it out. Once she positively knows “go peepee”, call her over, let her sniff and then say “Yes! go peepee” and wait. She may or may not do it. Try to assess her reaction. Does she become anxious at now being told with the sounds she’s associated with peeing to pee in her own yard? Does she just want the treat but isn’t otherwise concerned with having been told to soil in her yard? This can give you a lot of insight into what’s going on if she doesn’t just up an do the deed after learning you actually *want* her to do it in the yard.

      Third, there’s some boxes that need to be checked. the first is more of a last resort: has she been evaluated by a vet to make sure there’s not something going on that means she really barely ever has to pee? Has she given birth do you know? Do you have any medical history on her?) The second is important to do today: do your best to figure out (accounting for evaporation, temp in and out of the house and any other animals that might be drinking from the same bowls) how much she’s actually drinking. If she’s not drinking enough she literally might not feel the need to pee at all until she gets moving on a walk because there’s very little in her bladder.

      On that note, forth, when you know she should need to pee, take her outside and play fetch, chase, tug-a-war, etc. She might just need more “vigorous” exercise to trigger the urge to urinate and after 5-10 minutes of running around the pee will happen. Have treats with you during this process, and if she does pee, praise her enthusiastically and give her a few treats, of course!

      Fifth, have you tried going on a “walk” around the perimeter of your property with her on leash (I’m assuming she’s on leash during walks?)? If she was only allowed outside on leash previously (no fenced yard/doggie door for instance), she may associate being on leash with whether she’s allowed to pee. not a typical association that i know of, but if she was house trained improperly to begin with there could be some odd associations in her lil brain that we’d never guess.

      Sixth, I’d invest in a blacklight and check every floor, furniture, etc. for pee. Some dogs have very mild-smelling and light-colored pee and it can easily go unnoticed for awhile, esp if there’s other scents in the home that may cover up light smells. On that note, do you have cats? If so, any chance she’s peeing in the litter box? Odd question I’m sure, but it can happen!

      Seventh, grab a can of a good brand of “go here!” pheromone spray and spray in a couple areas in the yard as directed for outside use on the can. She might just need the “ooh, i wanna pee on this!” synapses to light up in her brain :). It’s possible if not likely that her favorite place to pee on your walks is where other dogs pee and she’s marking after them.

      most of all, p a t i e n c e. i know it’s hard! i know the feeling of not being able to always take the pup on a walk to do their business and yet being the loving doggie parent you are you want your dog to be healthy and have healthy potty-ing and not hold it for 3 years! remember (and this is NOT at all a judgement of you despite what it sounds like!!!), “it’s not the dog, it’s the human”. Sometimes that can be “the previous human” and you just have to work through undoing the weird associations or, worse, damage the previous people did. but assuming a “clean slate”, our dogs really aren’t trying to be stubborn, force us to do something, irritate us. they have a language and we have a language. just as we struggle to read (and are usually oblivious to) what they’re “saying” continually by every muscle movement, look, bark, etc., they start out not having a clue what we want. sure, it’s reasonable to assume that puppy’s gotta need to pee after 12 hours, so let’s go outside and she should really have to go so why isn’t she. you might even being saying something like “go peepee”, but unless the previous person taught her what that meant, all she hears is wah-wahwah-wahwah. (if you happen to be able to, ask the breeder what term was used for that command and where she was allowed/disallowed to go pee in their custody.) that’s where the second suggestion comes in, of course.

      does she have 24/7 run of the house and yard? or is she inside overnight and doggie door gets opened in the morning? is she kenneled or confined to a room/small space at any point?

      i hope something in there helps!! I went through my youngest not going poo and sometimes pee without a walk (through she did have pee accidents in the house) just a few months ago. i know it can be rough. remember you are a smart person who can figure this out with your doggie! there can be a lot of “misses” in methods before you get the “hit”, but you will! and you’ll learn your dog, and how to communicate we her, better in the process and bond with her more through that gentle teaching and building of trust. more than once i had to just look up so my dog wouldn’t read “annoyed” on my face, take a deep breath and remind myself that we *would* get there, I just needed to find the way that worked for my unique girl. and doing that when you feel frustrated is important because any anxiety around potty-ing is of course not what you’re after. if you do raise your voice or fail to hide your frustration, apologize, hug, kiss, belly rubs, gentle n quiet voice… they don’t have a clue what words you’re saying, but the can sense your calm, happy with them, sorry for getting upset demeanor and alleviate the anxiety they felt at your being upset.

      if you have any questions or discover anything and want thoughts, please don’t hesitate to reply to me. I’m following the thread and will offer anything i can think of to help. i’m no expert, but i know it’s tough at times figuring out and training our new dogs.

  39. I need serious help/advice with my 3 yr old lab-pointer mix. For about a year he has been going to the bathroom on 1 side of my complexes property or at the dead end of my street. ( I live in a townhouse complex in a suburb) out of the blue, he refuses to go in either location. He will literally hold it for 12 hours. If you take him down the street, boom insta poop or pee. Now, I am a stay at home parent and can’t always take him down the street. My baby monitor only reaches the side of the complex and taking my 2 yr old to the dead end or down the street is becoming impossible. How can I make him go closest to home again? Sorry if this isn’t very clear.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Gosh, that sounds frustrating. Yes, you are clear in explaining it. What if you take him out to the 2 spots every few hours and if he refuses to go, then so be it. You’re giving him the chance to go. If he does go, give him a high-valued reward instantly (like a piece of real meat!).

      Then once or twice a day you take him further down the road.

      Just brainstorming here as I’m not sure what else you can do.

      1. What are the chances he can get a UTI from holding for so long? My husband and even myself have spent 45 mins in one of the now no go spots and all the dog does is yawn and stress himself out. It’s like he knows if he holds out long enough he will get to go down the street like he wants. I feel for him, I know he has to go. He’ll squat, lift a leg but nothing comes out. He’s even gone has far as sucking his poop back in. Now I admit we have gotten mad (just been stern or call him bad) at times and that doesn’t help. Now we just stay silent and say go pee, go poop. I’ve done treat rewards and praise if he goes. I know he’s stubborn and smart. He’ll go in huge leaf piles in those areas but I’m avoiding those since it’s tick season and I don’t want to bring those in the house. I will try your ideas though and see if that does anything.

        1. I am about ready to give the dog away. Soon it will be winter and below zero and will not be able to walk him up the street just so he will use the bathroom. Im stressed

  40. Dogs use their anal scent marking glands as a part of territory marking. I’m assuming not pooping in the yard is part of that complex territorial behavior. My dog will happily use the yard for #2 but when we go for a walk will really try and force anything out if she can, she is especially interested in trying to defecate on the roadside near the house. I have to curb her tightly on the leash until we get to the dog park down the road.

    You can see if the leash is a trigger to poop by putting your dog on leash and then walking in the yard. For my dog, not the leash, not the front yard, nothing does except the road near the house.

  41. I adopted my dog just over 2 years ago and he has always had this issue but not as bad at first. We recently moved and have been at the new house for about 3 weeks. He does not have a problem peeing in our yard but I will be outside with him for hours some days walking circles in our yard which is pretty big trying to get him to go poop. However, if we walk even 5 feet off our property he is going just fine. He enjoys walking around the yard 2 laps is like a regular 15 minute walk for him but he will hold it to the point of walking very awkward until we get right over the property line. We are in the process of saving to build him a fence but I’m worried that he still wont go in our yard and we will start upsetting the neighbors and their dogs territory. Also, I always go back and pick it up and put it in our yard in the few places he has went this doesn’t seem to matter to him though.

  42. None of these tips helps with my dog. He just REFUSES to go, we’ll take him out and hell just try to pull us back inside, try to do the 10 minutes thing then back in, but we could be doing that for over 24 hours and he STILL wouldn’t even PEE. Sometimes he’ll pee, but its very rare he’ll poop. But as soon as we take him on a walk, instantly starts peeing and looking for a place to poop. We can’t let him run around off leash because he jumps our fence. He’ll sit here and scream at us to take him out, but won’t do anything when we do. We can’t take him on as many walks anymore with COVID, so we’re worried his stubbornness is going to make him sick.

  43. My 4 year old mix does this. She will not go in the yard. If we walk her she has no problem. But she will come in and go in the house. She refuses to go in our yard no matter how much we put her out. I have a newborn and I live in michigan so its not possible to walk her. Im desperate. I can’t have my house a mess. I will steam clean and she will come right in and go on the floor that day! Help

  44. Hi, I have a wolf dog who’s just turned 19 months and a medium mixed breed spinone italiano, 4 years. They’re both whole. Two weeks ago the wolf dog had some aggressive behaviours with the spinone and he got very frightened. It’s 3 days now he won’t pee in the yarn… if I walk him 2 metres far from the yarn he’ll have a veeeeery long pee. Suggestions?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would probably just walk him a few meters from the yard if he will pee there. In a few days, he might feel safer again and go back to normal.

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