need help with my dog, he wont pee outside of the yard!

theresa6March 15, 2012

I have a 2 year old rescue dog that has been with us since he was 6 months old. He is a great dog, but very nervous/anxious and has seperation anxiety. Because of this, we decided to take him with us next month when we go on vacation because we will be gone for 10 days.

The good news is that he learned to go outside amazingly quick, he had maybe 4 accidents in the house in the first week we brough him home and none since. The bad news is he absolutely will not go anywhere but our yard. I have been walking him first thing in the morning every day for about a week, and he wont' go, he comes in and runs to the back door and as soon as I let him out he pees instantly.

So today I tried not taking him in the yard at all, and I walked him first thing for about 20 minutes. Nothing. Bring him in, put him in his crate (which he hates),waited an hour, repeat. Nothing. Did this 4 times so far this morning. Its been 16 hours since the poor dog has gone to the bathroom and he must be ready to explode. But he WILL NOT GO.

This is a problem because if he doesn't get it by the time we leave, he can't come with us. We will be traveling by car and its a 20 hour drive.

I really need some help! Can anyone guess why he won't go outside the yard? What can I do to teach him its ok?

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First, let the dog go to the bathroom or you're going to end up at the vet with a bladder/urinary infection. Sticking him in the crate when he needs to go to the bathroom will only teach him to go in the crate.

When you walk him is he on a retractable leash so he can move about and find interesting smells? Are you walking on pathways or concrete? Are you talking to him a lot or are you staying calm and quiet?

I doubt you'll have problems on your trip. Stop at roadside parks and take him on leisurely walks. If you can find areas where other dogs frequent, I think you'll find he'll respond to their marking/urine.
In the meantime, keep taking him on walks in areas where other dogs have been and don't stress on the fact he's not peeing on the walks.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:53PM
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Grammar correction: 'he's going to end up at the vet'.....

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:55PM
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we have a nother dog, and watching her pee outside makes no difference for him. We also live in a dog friendly neighborhood, and it makes no difference to him if he smells other dogs or not.

When I walk him in the neighborhood, he does not go. Then he comes in and runs to the back door asking to be let out, so it seems that doing so (letting him out) solidifies to him that if he just holds it on the walk he can go in the yard when he gets home.

He will not pee in his crate, which is why I put him there. I have been walking him every hour or so giving him the opportunity to go.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:05PM
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I also think its worth mentioning that he will not go to the bathroom when we are out, even if it has been all day. I'll take him to the park, the beach, the forest preserves etc, and to visit family/friends, and he won't go tot he bathroom until we get home, even if it is all day long. Which leads me to believe he won't go on our vacation either.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Dealing with nervous, high anxiety dogs is not easy since each case is unique, but I suggest you try to find a trainer to help your dog. Your dog may feel the back yard is the only safe, and allowed, space for him to go so it will take time and lots of positive training for him to learn otherwise.

Before this past week, had he ever been walked elsewhere or taken to parks, etc? Have you ever walked him regularly with the other dog? I ask because if he's only gone in the back yard for the past 1 1/2 yrs, one week of morning walks isn't going to change the behavior of a nervous dog.

I still don't agree with crating him when he needs to go, and if he hates the crate you're only adding to his anxiety and confusion. A dog can't learn new behaviors when its in a nervous, stressed state.
I understand you wanting him to learn to go elsewhere but I think you need to be working with a trainer and/or your vet. IMO, to not allow him go to the bathroom is cruel.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:38PM
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My dog was like this for a while. Can you jog or run a mile with him instead of walking him? That should do the trick. Treat and praise excessively when he goes.. he'll get the idea.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:51PM
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He has been walked regularly since he came home, if not daily then at least 3-5 times per week. I have three children and he (our dog) is very much a part of our family. He comes to pick up the kids from school, to the park with us when they play, for long walks with the baby in her stroller while the older two are at school.

Because of his anxiety, we did work with a trainer when we first got him, and worked with her extensively. Not on this particular issue, but in general, we have worked with multiple trainers actually.... in addition to the animal behaviorist, we also saw someone because he had issues with people coming into our home, and he has also been through beginner, intermediate, and advanced obedience training, as well as receiving his canine good citizen award. Like I said, our dog is a major part of our family and he participates in almost everything we do together.

Yes, he does hate his crate, no doubt. But unfortunately for him he has seperaxion anxiety (and he is on meds for it)and if he isn't in his crate when we leave he chews the furniture, knocks over the garbages, and basically destroys what he can do to his anxiety. So hate it though he does, he is also used to it.

I understand thinking its cruel to crate him when he needs to go... but that is exactly what one does with a puppy when they are 'crate training' them not to go in the house. I am taking him where I want him to go and giving him ample opportunity to relieve himself before putting him back in for a short time and trying it again. I dont understand saying I am 'not allowing him to go to the bathroom'. Would you say the same to someone who crates their dog because their dog constantly goes in the house? Likely not. This is really no different. I am simply trying to teach him to go somewhere else (other than the yard) and using a method that is pretty standard for housetraining puppies. I don't see how I am not allowing him to go to the bathroom. I am taking him where I want him to eliminate and giving him plenty of time and opportunity to do so.

I came here hoping to get some helpful suggestions for how to show him its OK to pee somewhere else, and instead I am being called cruel for not allowing my dog to pee. Seems a bit odd to me...I am not a first time dog owner, I have had dogs for 25 years and have worked with animals in some capacity for a good portion of those years as well. I can guarantee that I am not cruel to any of my animals.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:56PM
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theresa, if you go back and read your first post I think you'll see where you gave none of the information that you did in the last post. You also didn't answer some of my questions, so no one here had much information to work with.

Since you have a trainer you've worked with before I suggest you bring them back in for this problem.
I stand behind my comment that 'you're not allowing him to go to the bathroom' since you know he'll go in the back yard, an area that you trained him to go in.
What you're doing is not the same as training a puppy since a puppy will usually 'go' anywhere and the process is to train the puppy not to potty in the house.
I know how frustrating it can be, but I think you should step back and look at the whole picture. You're suddenly telling your dog he can no longer go in the back yard and I don't see the crating approach working since you stated earlier that "its been 16 hours since the poor dog has gone to the bathroom and he must be ready to explode".
Please let the dog relieve himself and consider a new approach with your trainer.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 3:27PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

Is it possible to catch some of his urine and then take it to a place out on the street, so that he picks up his own scent? Maybe that would reassure him that it's ok to go elsewhere.

Good luck with your problem. If you find success, maybe you could come back and update this post. Could help someone else.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 3:38PM
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Hi - Start by walking him in the backyard on leash and teaching him the 'go potty' command. YES *on lead* where he usually potty's. He may also have issues eliminating on lead. So start with getting him to eliminate on lead in the yard, then gradually move out of the yard (after say 3 or 4 days).

You need to associate the leashed walking with the eliminating - and to start the training you have to do that where he will eliminate. Reward every single time he goes in the back yard and start using the 'go potty' command when you see him getting into position. Then gradually move out of the yard. This isn't something that can be resolved in a few days, but I'll bet you can make lots of progress in two weeks *IF* you take him out on lead every single time - even at midnight - ON LEAD. If you give him the option to just run out to the yard off lead during the training period, you won't be as successful. 'Go potty' is a really important command for travel or visiting or going to vets offices and he sounds like a smart one, so I'll bet he learns quickly. Let us know how things are going.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Have the exact same problem with our rescue dog. She was 6 month St. Bernard that was dropped off in a rural area with her two brothers. The brothers were very mean and I can bet our Sophie had to fight for every scrap of food off of them. She is/was extremely timid and the first week hid behind chairs and in corners afraid to move. To get her out side we had to put a leash on her and coax her out though she never had accidents in the house because she had NEVER been in a house! After a week I got her a crate, just so she could have a place of her own to feel secure. She loves her crate. The next 2 months she would come out to eat but to get her out to go out to pee I had to crawl in the crate and leash her. By 4 months here she realized we were nice to her and accepted us but would not leave the living room. We have 1 acre of ground ajoining my mother's 4 acres. 3/5ths of the ground is wooded. I would like her to go to the woods for a bathroom, but forget it. She goes in a 10 X 10 foot area out our backyard. When we are outside she stays within a 10 foot range of us. Now that it's summer she's outside with us a lot and if she's bored with watching us garden she lays down and watches us. I clean up the waste every day and toss it in the woods hoping she will take the hint the "bathroom" is there, but nope. We have cook outs and wiener roasts every Sat. so the yard has to be cleaned every day. It's been a year now and still the only time she comes out of the living room is if we sleep a bit late she will come back the hall to the bedroom to tell us, "time to go out". Or if we are cooking she'll come into the kitchen driven by smells and know it's time for her food too. The only time I have ever seen her leave her comfort zone to pee is when my son brings his dog over and that dog roams the ground. Then she'll follow D-O-G and go to the bathroom near her. We really can't complain about cleaning the yard. Sophie is such a sweetheart now that she trusts us and finally found her forever home where she is finally totally comfortable. I think her fear of being too far from us or her "home place" comes from never having a home before and trusting and knowing us to be kind and gentle with her unlike her life before.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 9:39PM
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We had the same issue with our rescue and did something very similar to what Cynthia suggested. It worked like a charm and that's what I would suggest you try as well.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:58AM
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All good ideas but you need your dog to associate what you want with what it is doing. IE - commands. SO when you let your dog out to pee, go out with him and when he pees say a phrase or command of your choice. Add praise, like PP outside, good boy, repeat until he is done. Do this everytime he goes outside. This way he will associate your command with his business. You can do this for #2 as well, just pick a different command language. I have taught my dogs this way and have recently taught a friends 12 year ol service dog to do this because he was going to go on a cruise with his owner. You need at least a week of this training for it to be effective. Good luck

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 2:27PM
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Thanks everyone for the help. With him, his issue was not going on lead, it was going somewhere other than the yard. He is a jumper (can leap 6 foot fences in a single bound) so he is tied out in the yard even though it is fenced, so he is used to going on a leash. I can walk him around the yard and he will have no problem going.

Finally, we had a breakthrough and he is going very well on walks now ! It was actually the day I posted here. I just kept walking him every hour or so, and not taking him out back at all. Finally, after about 17 hours of holding it, he peed and pooped, and he got tons of treats (steak and cheese). Once he went once, it was easier for him each time. Now I walk him about 2-3 times a day and the rest of the time he is going in the yard. I feel much better now about taking him on vacation with us!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 4:21PM
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