For a couple of weeks now, our dog Mulder (yes, he’s named after Fox Mulder from the “X-Files”) hasn’t been pooping or peeing in his usual place in the backyard. When we open the door for him to go out, he gets hesitant and sometimes refuses to go out and do his business. At first, I thought it could be that another animal (maybe a cat, maybe a raccoon, maybe a rat) decided he/she was going to mark their territory in the backyard and it kind of freaked the dog out.
But I think what started us getting annoyed with him was that he started pooping and peeing in the backyard — but it was only on the brick part of the yard. He usually goes in the dirt (which makes it easier to clean up), but for some reason, the dirt made him kind of nervous. It didn’t help matters that I got annoyed with him and grumbled that it was a real hassle to not only get a poop bag to scrape the poop off the brick, but that I had to hose the skid marks off the brick after he did his business. Did I mention that Mulder is a very sensitive boy? Yeah, he picks up on vocal tone and body language and knows that I’m pissed off — but doesn’t know why? How could he?
While hunting around the Internet with the search term “Why doesn’t my dog want to poop and pee in his usual place?” I found a site that kind of answered my question. Part of the issue is that Julie has walked the dog in the morning pretty consistently for the past few weeks. Usually, it’s before he’s done his business in the backyard, so it seems he’s used to taking a crap and a wiz on his walk. It’s doesn’t always happen, but he may have imprinted on his dog brain that when it’s time for a walk, it’s also time to evacuate his bowels. Since dogs are creatures of habit, they don’t adjust well to changes in habit. Maya has let the dog out at various times at night (sometimes at 1am, sometimes at 4am), and Julie usually gets up at 6-6:30am to start work. Sometimes he gets a walk right away, sometimes he has to wait. All the random times may have gotten his poop and pee schedule out of whack.
The vet on the site I read suggested that when dogs get poop and pee shy, it’s important that his/her bosses give them lots of praise before the blessed event. Rubbing their tummy, being happy when going outside, petting the dog when they are in the “uncomfortable” place. So, I tried it out, and what do you know? It worked.
First I gave him a lot of love and praise:
And then took him to the backyard to see if the magic would happen (I wasn’t optimistic):
So what have I learned? When you have a sensitive dog (like we do), try to turn negative energy upside down into positive tones if you want your dog to change behavior. I can’t say it always works, but it seemed to do the trick with our puppy with his poop and pee issues.