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My Pet World: How to get a dog to potty while on a leash

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

A few weeks ago, I adopted an eight-month-old mixed breed rescue dog. She is sweet, loving and very smart. She does, however, have an odd quirk. We go for long walks (an hour or more) once or twice a day. Never once has she gone to the bathroom while out on a walk. When we’re heading home and get to our block, she starts to run like crazy, and when we get to our house, she makes a bee-line straight to the backyard, where she immediately does her business. She goes out in the yard several times daily to do her business with no problem. I am concerned that in the future if we go on a trip with her, or, if a relative without a yard (an apartment) babysits and walks her, there may be a problem. Have you ever encountered this issue before? How should we manage this? — Carol, Massapequa, New York

Dear Carol,

I rarely get this question. It’s usually people complaining their dogs relieve themselves too much on a walk — or neighbors without pets complaining about their neighbor’s dogs going potty in their yard. To get a dog comfortable relieving herself while on a leash, you have to train her to “go potty” on command. Introduce her to commands and marker/reward words through basic training. Tell her to sit and then say use a marker/reward word, like Bingo, which marks the correct behavior and tells her she is about to get a treat. Then, give her a treat.

Once she understands what a command and the marker/reward word mean, you can use this training to teach her to go potty on command. Whenever she pees or poops in the yard, give a command, like “go potty,” accompanied by the marker/reward word and treat. Once she understands what you expect of her, put a leash on her and take her into the backyard and tell her to “go potty.” She may be hesitant at first, but if she knows she will get a treat for complying she will eventually do it. Once she gets comfortable going potty while on a leash in your backyard, take her for a walk and stop in a few places and tell her to “go potty.” It can take a few weeks or a month or more of consistent training for her to understand what you want her to do. But she can learn to do this if you are consistent with the training.

Dear Cathy,


We have a 2-1/2-year-old beagle/lab mix that consistently licks the rug/floor (you name it) after she finishes her food. We feed her Hill’s Science Diet small bites for her age and weight. She eats the food very well and we have changed the flavors, but she still licks. Any suggestions on what we might try or do? Do you think the licking is at all harmful for our Pepper? — Frank, South Windsor, Connecticut

Dear Frank,

Excessive licking could be from allergies to food, grasses or pollens, gum or tooth pain, boredom, or anxiety. Rule out health problems, like the gum or tooth problems, first. Dogs often lick when in pain because it releases endorphins and can make them feel better temporarily.

If it were a food allergy, she would mostly be licking herself. Instead, you say she is licking everything else, so I am more inclined to think it’s related to boredom or anxiety. Get her a canine pheromone collar to wear and/or put plug-in canine pheromones in your home. Then introduce her to more daily walks, basic training, and puzzle-based toys to keep her mind busy. Start with something easy — like a treat-dispensing toy that she can push around the room, and gradually increase the level of difficulty to keep her mind active and challenged.


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