The weather is getting colder in many places, which means leisurely walks with your dog are likely dwindling to simply going outside for bathroom breaks. Of course, if your dog doesn't like to go to the bathroom while he's on his leash, you could find yourself spending much more time outside than you'd like to. There are a number of reasons dogs may refuse to go while they're leashed, but most commonly it's simply because they are too excited to. Finding a quiet place for your pet to go is a start. If he still refuses to go, you can use these tips to help with the training process.
Dogs are creatures of routine. Chances are yours wakes up at the same time each morning, gets tired at the same time each night, and expects his meals on a schedule as well. Eating and sleeping aren't his only routines, either. Dogs also prefer to use the bathroom at the same time each day. Most commonly, he will want to go as soon as he wakes up, about 30 minutes after eating, and right before he goes to bed for the night. This means if you want him to use the bathroom while he's on his walks, you'll need to schedule those walks around these times.
Sometimes, the reason your dog won't go to the bathroom while you have him on a leash is because he doesn't like the leash itself. Think about how things usually go when you have your dog on a leash. Maybe you moved from a house with a fenced yard to an apartment, so you previously only used a leash for situations like going to the vet. Your dog may think you're taking him to the vet every time you put him on a leash. Maybe you try to get the walk done as quickly as possible and tug on the leash when he stops to smell things for too long without using the bathroom. This could be causing anxiety. Make sure to take time for leisurely walks that allow your dog to explore at least a few times a week. Doing so helps him acclimate to relaxing and feeling comfortable during leash walks.
The type of leashing system you're using may be a problem as well. Dogs shouldn't wear collars in the house because they can become caught on things and cause safety hazards. If yours isn't used to being in his collar often, he may not like how it feels or it might be too tight. Make sure you can fit at least two fingers between the collar and your dog's neck and avoid collars with too may adornments. Rhinestones, bows, and other elaborate designs might look cute, but could feel uncomfortable. It is also advisable to use leashes of only about 6 feet long. Avoid retractable leashes because they could give your dog too much control over the walk. The best option is to skip the collar and retractable leash in favor of a traditional leash attached to a body harness, which provides more control to you and likely feels more comfortable for your dog.
Creating a designated spot for using the bathroom during the walk will also help your dog get used to going while he's on the leash. If you have a yard, consider using a corner of it for training purposes. Eventually, he'll get used to going while on longer walks. If you live in an apartment building, choose somewhere close to your apartment, such as a tree or curb. This way, he will have someplace close to home that he designates as his bathroom for times when it's cold, rainy, or you don't have time in your schedule for a longer walk.
Most dogs learn better when they have specific commands to follow, such as "sit" or "stay." The same can be said for going to the bathroom during walks. Choose one command that shows him you want him to go to the bathroom during your walk and use it when you get to the designated spot. Remember to keep this command short, as anything too long is harder for a dog to learn. Many people simply use "go potty," but really any word will work, as long as you only use it for the specific occasion of getting him to go to the bathroom.
Avoid giving your dog extra attention, either positive or negative, when you're waiting for him to go to the bathroom. If you try to praise him and love on him before he's gone to the bathroom, he'll become too distracted to actually go. On the other hand, if you become frustrated and begin using his command too forcefully, he'll begin to associate walks and the bathroom command word with anxiety and being in trouble. Stay quiet and walk back and forth in the area you want him to use for the bathroom. Say "go potty" before he goes and then again as he's finishing, which helps him to associate the command with the action. Finally, when he's done, reward him. Give him lots of praise and pets, as well as a treat or two.
Remember, most dogs won't pick up a new "trick" in just a day or two. While this may feel frustrating for you, it is important to stay the course. With the right tools and some patience, your pooch will be going potty while leashed in no time. Don't forget the waste bags!