The Scoop on Poop – Posted in: Columns
Hi Mr. Wade,
I have a 7 month old male Scotch Collie. He has recently decided he doesn’t want to eliminate in our yard anymore. I let him out at 7am for 30 minutes and he just stands there looking at the door or lays on the grass and wants me to take him for a walk to pee or mess. He just started doing this last week. I take him for a walk on my lunch hour at noon as well as after work and before bed time. In the morning I don’t have time to walk him and I want him to relieve himself in the back yard. I’m worried because now he seems to be holding himself until I come home at noon to take him for a walk.
What a timely inquiry. Someone’s dog just pooped on my lawn and the owner proudly showed me the baggy and “cleaned up.” I suppose I should just be grateful but in a perfect world no one would take their dog for a walk to eliminate. They’d train them to empty out on their own property and then go get their exercise. People say, “Well I clean up after him/her.” Fine, then knock off your shoes and socks and run your toes through the same “cleaned up” grass because my kids are sooner or later going to. It would be more honest I suppose to say, “I got most of it but you might not want to drop your sandwich.”
Your dog just finally concluded as many dogs will, that if he eliminated on the walks most of the time then that’s the bathroom. If you’ve just been letting him out to do his business in the morning you have no idea how consistent he has been. I don’t recommend unsupervised trips until a dog is two because then they can’t develop bad habits like excessive barking, destructive chewing, house soiling etc. As it is even if he has his legs crossed and can’t wait to get out he can get distracted. “I gotta go, I gotta go, Get the door! – Hey! Is that a squirrel?” Perhaps it’s not be location. It may also be that on the walks you’re always with him and now you’re his poop buddy. See if he’ll go if you’re out there with him.
It’s likely location though. For many dogs, once they’ve decided where the bathroom is they can’t go anywhere else. I had a good friend that discovered she couldn’t go camping (real camping) because for her if the area wasn’t liberally accented with porcelain and ceramic then it wasn’t a bathroom. Unfortunately she made this discovery on a trip with me and oddly the quality of her company deteriorated considerably with each passing day. Texture influences habits as well. Dogs that spent their early months on concrete often head to the basement. Dogs on gravel, then seek gravel, grass, then grass.
The house training program I have is designed to teach a dog to do three eliminations a day in one spot. It uses the influential factors of supervision, good and timely nutrition, gradual scheduling, exercise etc. I used to have a cheat sheet on my website but if you can’t find it send me an email and I’ll send whoever want it a copy.
Now I have to go hose off my lawn but hopefully not my kids feet.