Training to Eliminate Away From Home
I have a 14-year-old Chow mix who will not pee or poop unless she is in our yard. I can’t take her traveling because of this. Is there anything I can do?
We’re going to make the assumption that your dog used to eliminate on walks but, as she aged, she became reluctant to eliminate outside your yard. Just like people, dogs can exhibit behavioral changes as they advance in years. This is even more likely if your dog is also suffering from a sensory deficit, such as loss of vision. It may be that she’s feeling too anxious and worried to relax enough to eliminate. If you suspect that this may be the case, speak with your veterinarian about a medication called Anipryl, which can help dogs with age-related behavior problems.
If your dog is quite reliable about urinating and defecating in the yard, you could try teaching her to void on command. Accompany her each time she goes in the yard, and when you spy her sniffing and circling, say your cue (something like, “Do your business”) and reward her with a treat when she goes. With sufficient repetition, some dogs can become conditioned to eliminate when they hear those words. While traveling, you can use this command to encourage her to eliminate. Alternatively, take along a few samples of her waste products (it needn’t be much) and scatter a bit around the area where you’d like her to eliminate. The odor of her own waste will stimulate her to void, and may also help her relax in different settings. It will also help greatly if you are sensitive to the fact that she feels insecure in new surroundings, and stay close by to support her.