Q&A: My dog won’t potty if we’re around!

labradoodleWe are having an issue with our 10 month old labradoodle, Sammie. She will gladly go potty outside when not on a leash and when she feels the need to while playing outside, but any other time she is taken outside she simply lays down on the ground (especially when the leash is on her)!

We have been taking her out on the leash for 10 minutes and then putting her in the crate for 15 minutes if she does not go potty while outside. Anything that we could be doing differently? We really want her to know the difference between going out to play and going out to potty.



Thanks for your great question, Liz!

The first thing I would suggest is that every time you take her outside you do so with her lead on, and ask her to relieve before you start to play. You want to have a ‘word association’ you give when you expect her to relieve, ie: ‘go potty’, ‘do your business’, etc. When she goes, praise her.

If you were planning on a play session, as soon as she goes you can take her lead off and play. Use the word association every time she goes, even if it is on a walk or in the park. By doing this, she will start to associate the word with the action of relieving. In addition, I would suggest you stay outside until she actually goes. This can be very time consuming in the beginning, but will certainly pay off in the long run. Whilst outside, keep repeating ‘go potty’.

In general I would avoiding sticking her in the crate when you come inside just because she hasn’t gone, but instead just keep her lead on and keep her with you if you are concerned she might have an accident. It is never a good idea to have the crate be associated with any form of punishment. I would give her the opportunity to go every few hours, and within 15-20 minutes of eating. The consistency of the word association to relieve, and the fact that she always goes out on a lead should help you solve this problem.

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Beth Jeffery

Beth Jeffery is a Dog Trainer and Behaviorist with over 15 years experience in the field. She spent years in the Service Dog field, training both Guide Dogs for the Blind and Assistance Dogs for the Disabled, as well as many years working with pet dogs. Beth current runs her Dog Training business in San Diego, working with dogs of all breeds, all ages, and with all issues, from puppy training through to aggressive dogs.

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