He won’t “go” while on the leash


Q: We have a couple of parks near our house where dogs are allowed to romp off-leash, and it is in those parks that my dog does his pooping. But there are days I don’t have time to drive over to a park and take Hector for walks around the neighborhood instead. The problem is that he simply will not poop while on leash; he is too modest to do his business near me. He has not had any accidents in the house. I just feel bad that he can’t “go” if he is tethered to me. Any suggestions?

Brian Doust
Hewlitt, New York

Dear Mr. Doust,

A: Hector’s refusing to “go” off leash is probably an issue of anxiety rather than modesty. Dogs do not have social reserve about relieving themselves. When he is left to his own devices in a park, he is free to choose whatever spot he wants — perhaps a quiet one away from other dogs and people. But when he is connected to you by a leash, he cannot call the shots about where he relieves himself, and that may leave him feeling unsettled.

Hector may also not like squatting and feeling vulnerable by a busy road where cars are going by. Or perhaps you live in a busy neighborhood with a lot of people out and about, and that may keep him from being comfortably able to “focus.”

Try walking him in quiet spots, perhaps shortly before bedtime, when people are less likely to be around. Also, add at least 10 minutes to the walks to give Hector more time to sniff and “get ready.” And if possible, try a longer leash so he will have some more agency in choosing his spot. Most importantly, remain calm and relaxed through all of it. Relieving oneself is a biological urge, and it will happen — especially if you are successful at keeping your anxiety out of it.


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