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Canine Behavior/potty issues while camping


Dear Madeline, I have read you biography and I promise to read and rate your response within three days.  I understand that your time is valuable, that you are most likely spending at least 45 minutes of your time in response to my question, and I understand too that when questioners read and rate your responses fairly that you make random donations to animal shelters to help homeless animals.  In the interest of being appreciative of your time AND helping shelter dogs and cats, I agree that I will rate your response and give you fair feedback."  


I have a 10 month old doxie/pekingese mix. She has graduated advanced training and is house broken. She was about 6 months old before she was free of accidents. If I am going somewhere and I take her outside and tell her "go potty" she will go even if its just a few drops of pee. She will go potty at the park and on hikes without being told if she has to go. However, I recently took her camping twice. On both occasions she refused to pee. She went poo on both trips but refused to pee except for once on the first trip. When she got home she peed all over the floor. It was practically a flood. The second time I took her it was the same thing. She refused to pee even though I knew she had to go. When we got in the tent she immediately peed on a sleeping pad. She then went to a corner and looked really sad about it. I didn't get angry with her I just gave her a hug. The next morning she again refused to go even though I knew she had to go badly. I walked her and walked her and told her over and over to go potty, which she FINALLY did. And boy did she! I gave her a big party with lots of praise and a treat (something I hadn't done in a while because she was so reliable about going potty outside and when she was told to go). I know it can't be comfortable for her to hold it for that length of time and I certainly don't want her going in my tent. I don't think reverting to a potty pad will help because I used some of her urine she provided in the tent as a marker to encourage her to go and it didn't help. I also thought she might have issues going in the camp area in case she thought it was inside and took her pretty far away to try to get her to go and she still wouldn't.  I am already going back to having a huge party with a treat when she potty's on command.


My question is twofold...First, what is her issue?? Second, how can I correct this behavior so she will have a more comfortable and enjoyable experience (both of us!).

Hello Lis,

Thank you for your questions and for taking the time to read my bio and copying, pasting and agreeing to my virtual agreement.  I appreciate your doing so, as do the shelters and rescues to which I donate.

I've read your information and the questions and given them some thought.  Several questions arise from what you've written.  First, have you had your Doxie/Peke mix since she was a puppy?  If not, what is known about her history?

Second, has she ever had a disturbing or traumatic experience while pottying?

Third, and this I suspect is the case: is she a very submissive dog?

Fourth: is she spayed?

Fifth: What other dogs are animals were or are usually around the area in which you were camping?

Please send me the answers to these questions, and I will continue responding in a follow-up.  It isn't necessary to rate my response at this point, as it's not complete yet, pending your responses to the questions I've asked.

Thanks, and see you back here in a bit!


Follow-up from Questioner:
I have had her since she was 8 weeks old.  She hasn't had a traumatic experience while pottying that I am aware of and her foster mom got her started on potty training.  However, about 4 months ago she was charged by two pit bulls.  I tossed her over a fence into a backyard and she was unharmed but I was severely injured and spent two days in the hospital.  The police returned her to my home but it was a few hours before I could get a family member to my house.  She had bad dreams for a few weeks afterward.  She is pretty submissive but is very well behaved.  She will play well with other dogs once she is comfortable, even big ones.  She was spayed at 6 months and had no issues with recovery.  I only camp in areas where dogs are allowed.  The last time there were several dogs in the area and we were with friends who have a large female lab that Daisy (my dog) gets along with.

Madeline responds:
Hi again, Lis.  Thank you for the follow-up.  The information you provided is just what I needed to reinforce what I was thinking.

I'm sorry you had such a frightening experience involving the two dogs.  I do hope that whomever owned these two was held responsible for your injuries, and also that you've fully recovered.  It was smart of you to think quickly and put Daisy over a fence where she'd be safe.  I often wonder what I'd do in such a situation with my dogs, and am always looking around for such possibilities in case something like what you've described were to happen  while I was out with my dogs.

First, Daisy had a traumatic experience involving other dogs.  While it may not have directly involved pottying, it occurred while she was out.  Maybe she was out on a potty walk, but hadn't been pottying at the moment.  The fact is that she had this experience, and I'm sure it must have been traumatic for her, based on what you've described (separation from you, bad dreams following, frightened and alone in your home until someone could arrive while you were in hospital).  

This is important because she may have made an association between being outside/pottying with either losing you, the presence of and being charged by other unfamiliar dogs, your being harmed and being taken away from her, or all of these mentioned.  Being submissive, which you say she is, a dog like Daisy would be apt to be very emotionally affected by what occurred.  The memory of those experiences may be affecting her pottying habits around other dogs, particularly many of them and their being unfamiliar dogs in close and constant proximity in a relatively unprotected (a tent, not a home) situation.  As you've written, there were several other dogs in the camping area.  There may have been enough dogs, or possibly the close proximity of those dogs (maybe some were off leash, as well?), to have scared her into holding her urine all those hours.  And, there may have been other animal odors around as well.  You did say that when you got her a distance away, she was finally able to potty.  So, proximity to all these dogs and her fear may be the basis of the issue for her.

The fact that she's submissive (and I find most Dachshunds I've worked with tend to be so, or Doxie mixes) tells me that, combined with this traumatic incident, she'd be more apt to not mark around these other dogs - that is, to hold her urine.  When dogs urinate, other dogs come to investigate (which would mean that her urine markings close to your tent would draw the dogs into closer proximity to her - again, a reason for her to urinate only far away from your camping area), or for her urinating to be perceived as marking, a no-no for dogs who want to lay as low as possible.  Unless submissive urination is done in a few droplets in front of other dogs, it's generally not perceived as submissive urination (which would fend off most other normally behaving dogs who would perceive her as a puppy).  It's the submissive dog's body language while urinating that indicates to other dogs that she's submissive and, therefore, not a threat. And, we don't know (or, at least I don't know) whether she submissively urinated when you threw her over the fence to protect her, and perhaps it didn't work for Daisy, which she'd likely remember.  So, there are unknowns, and also many ways Daisy could have processed what occurred, but all indications tell me that what occurred did traumatize her.

You don't mention whether the other dog with you is intact or not, or the personality of that dog (submissive, or confident), but that dog's presence could have an affect as well.  It's hard to say, especially not knowing much about the other dog.  But, even before your follow-up, I suspected that submission and a trauma of some type might be playing a role in Daisy's reluctance to urinate around other unfamiliar dogs.

It's impossible for me to know exactly what Daisy is feeling, but given the information provided these would be the most sensible and best guesses.

A savvy trainer also well-versed in canine behavior can help you help Daisy feel safer over time by doing training and counter-conditioning specific to Daisy's concerns.  I would present what occurred the same as you did for me, and work with the trainer that comes up with the same reasoning as mine, as this will indicate that the trainer knows what s/he is doing in behavioral terms, not just in training terms.  The training and behavior work will require some commitment of time and patience if Daisy will be able to resolve her fears.

If this isn't possible, you might avoid taking her camping with you as she evidently feels uncomfortable at this time.  If the charging experience you had was recent, time might help her to heal.  If it doesn't, or if you're not able to leave her home when you're camping, I would seek behavioral counter-conditioning with that sort of trainer I mentioned.

Thanks for the follow-up, and I wish you and Daisy safe travels and all the best.

~ Madeline Friedman, Dog Behavior Expert Volunteer at AllExperts

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Madeline S. Friedman, M.A.


I respond to public questions only. I'm not a veterinarian & do not respond to medical questions.Suggestions: Submit a question in one area of priority, as what I am able to address in this venue is limited. Provide as much detail re: the behavior & issue as you can. Tell me how & if behavior is a change from previous behavior & when the changes occurred. Let me know what you think may have triggered such changes & what you have tried so far to resolve it, & what the results were. Let me know what you want help with & what are your concerns & questions about the behavior. I have set up a payment/donation to myself for responding to questions. I donate most of it to animal shelters & rescues. I keep a small portion for my time. The minimum donation is $25.00 on PayPal. When I see that a donation has been made, I will respond to your question. You will be prompted to make the donation before submitting your question. When you have read & rated my response fairly, which must be at the time you read it, I will refund $5.00 back to you IF YOU REQUEST that I do so in your rating comments. If I ask for more details, please respond as a "follow-up" & not as a new question. If I don't respond to your question, I will refund your donation less $5.00. DO rate me fairly at the end of our exchange. I will be pleased if you DO nominate me for volunteer of the month - why not, if I was generous in my response? I may suggest something you were not necessarily ready to hear, but I am honest in the interest of helping your dog, & that is my goal. Please keep that in mind. Please do NOT contact me privately about Allexperts questions through my e-mail or website unless I have invited you to do so. That is an invasion of my privacy - thank you for respecting it. If you would like to contact me for actual dog training & behavior consulting, you may contact me through my Web site.


Own & operate dog training & behavior consulting businesses, Hoboken Dog Trainer, and ny-njDogTrainer, in the NYC & NYC Metro areas since 2002. Work with thousands of dog owners & their dogs, & shelter & rescue dogs. Active volunteer in dog shelters and rescues (rescues being "no kill" and shelters being municipality-run urban shelters that can and do euthanize dogs). AllExperts volunteer in "Dogs, Category 701" and "Dog Training" and "Canine Behavior" since 2006. When you submit a question, please make sure it's being submitted in the appropriate category as I volunteer in two different categories. Make sure you agree to the Virtual Contract (the instructions I outline for question submissions) and agree to read and rate my response when I answer in the body of your question. I make donations to various animal non-profits based on YOUR ratings. If you don't rate my response, or rate it unfairly, you have just denied a dog rescue org or shelter a donation. Keep that in mind.

Professional Member of APDT for five years Founding Member of Animal Behavior Associates Behavior Education Network Former Board Member of IAABC, appointed by Founder Former Member of IPDTA in Canada Founding member of Behavior Education Network

Chronicle of the Dog (APDT, peer publication, numerous articles) Popular Dog Series magazine, numerous entries AOL in Tonowanda News Morris County News Vermont News Boston NOW New York A.M. Polo Trace Newsletter The Dodo AOL

Counseling Psychology, Caldwell College Animal Science, Rutgers University Master of Arts Degree Permanent New Jersey State Teaching Certification (teach public school and university level) Numerous workshops, lectures, and seminars on dog training and behavior Ongoing self-motivated study in my area of expertise

Awards and Honors
Best Canine Coach Award, 2006, Rondout Valley Instructor's Training Course Society of Illustrators, second place international competition Jellybean Photographics, second place international competition Fashion Institute of Technology "Commitment to Illustration" award

Past/Present Clients
Testimonials from a number of clients appear on my Web site at under "Reviews." My customers include: Puppy owners wanting to get their puppies off to the best start; owners of mature dogs who want their dogs to have more obedience skills; fosters and owners of rescue dogs or shelter dogs; customers with special needs who need to train or retrain their dogs; housetraining and housebreaking; owners who have behavioral issues with their dogs such as house accidents, aggression towards humans, aggression towards other animals, inattentive dogs, unmotivated dogs, overly-exuberant dogs; and, more.

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