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Dogs/Retraining dog to potty elsewhere


QUESTION: I have two rescue dogs. Due to Superstorm Sandy we lost the backyard. We are in the process of rebuidling the yard therefore, we no longer have our dogs using a part of it as their potty.
My cattle dog mix got it immediately that he now has to go to a new patch out in the front of the house on leash. My Lab/pit bull mix is very stubborn. She refuses to go outside in the front and will hold it until she can get to the deck and then does her business. If she doesn't get to the deck she will do it in the house. We have tried everything that we can think of however, she is strong willed and refuses to go in the front vs. the back part of the house. Can you help or have any other ideas?

Hi Phyllis,

If its not possible to let your female dog to use your back yard, is it possible for someone to drive you to an area that's a walkable distance from your home, and then you and your dog walk back? Of course, every time she needs to relieve herself this wouldn't be an option, but it could be a good way to get her used to walking.

If she is motivated by food, you can also try walking her and keeping a supply of "high value" treats (hot dog, cheese, chicken, or anything you know she really can't resist) with you as you walk in the front of your home. Cut the treat into pea-sized pieces. When you step out the front door, wait for your dog to look back at you. Don’t say anything to her, just wait. The instant she looks in your direction, give him a goodie. Take another few steps and stop. Wait for her to look in your direction, and give a treat. Next, take several steps and when the leash gets tight, stop. Just wait for your dog to turn to look in your direction and give a treat, then begin to walk again. Your dog should get the message that the walk will continue when she looks at you. She’ll start to look at you a lot and you’ll treat a lot. Voila - you’ve just taught you dog to walk nicely on a leash in your front yard. If she doesn't relieve herself, that's okay. Take her back inside, and try again in 20 minutes. It may take a while to train her into using the front yard because she can't be forced into it. Getting her to enjoy the front yard will be a big part of this battle. It doesn't matter how far you walk, what matters is that you set up an environment so your dog can succeed. Give a treat whenever your dog doesn’t react wanting to go back inside.
It could be helpful to take your male dog with you when you take your female dog on a walk in the front yard.

I hope that helps!
Best of luck,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: We do walk the dogs regularly as part of their excercise regiment.
The problem has always been that they both would wait for us to return home before they would relieve themselves in the backyard.  We sometimes take as much as an hour walk and they would hold it.  My male dog the cattle dog will go where ever now since he knows the yard is off limits. She is much more difficult. She doesn't object going to the patch in the front of the house, which is a narrow ditch which runs along the house. She will go there off or on leash she just doesn't do anything. We have even set up some airplane cable and secure her to it. We are located on a dead end so we can watch her from the house to see if she does anything. I have left her up to 30 minutes and nothing.  She goes with my male dog and he will go on cue and she sees what he does.

She came to us after we already had him and she has learnt many things from him without us teaching her ourselves. For instance they ring a bell when they need to go outside.

We were at a Pet Expo on Saturday and they had a fake grass area set up for the dogs to relieve themselves and she went there. The ditch area has grass so I am totally confused on why she is having such difficulty.

I will try anything.

Hi Phyllis,

A male dog will always happily pee everywhere, he's marking territory. Females can mark too, just not as often as males. Your female dog relieved herself on PetCo's fake grass area because other dogs mark there. Is there's a area near your home where other dogs are walked? Your female dog is the way she is due to having an ingrained routine, changing her routine will take time and patience on your part, but she will get used to being walked elsewhere if you are consistent with the new routine. Reward her with lavish praise or treats every time she goes to the bathroom during the walks.

You can also try training your dog to a "cue word" which will tell her you want her to go to the bathroom (very handy in bad weather). Wait for her to START peeing and in a happy tone of voice use a cue word of your choice (such as "go potty" or "lets go") and then reward the moment she's done peeing or pooping. Use the same cue word for all eliminating. Say the cue as soon as she starts to squat. Then after several sessions of this you can start trying the cue in different places than her usual place during the walk including in your front yard.

Is it possible to rig a way for her to access your back yard as she's accustomed to? That would be the easiest way to resolve this issue.

Best of luck,



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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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