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
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.
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!
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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.
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?
Let me know in the comments what has worked for you!
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Our favorite dog products that can help:
- High valued treats:
I recommend Zuke’s minis training treats.
- Long leash:
A long leash helps the dog move around and gives her more “personal space.”
- Earth Rated bags:
These are the best poop bags! They are earth friendly and durable!