Why Won’t My Puppy Potty On Grass? & How to Stop Neighbor Dogs Pooping in Yard

I’ve had several questions about puppy potty behavior and house training dogs, plus bad neighbor behavior, too! So I’ve combined a couple of topics in today’s blog post. Both questions have to do with dogs pooping on the lawn–why dogs go on grass, why puppies won’t go on grass, and also how to stop dog pooping in yard if your neighbor lets them “go” willy nilly.

Whew–that’s a lot of crappiocca! You can read about why dogs like to eat grass in a different post, here.

dog won't go on grass

DEAR ASK AMY…Why won’t my dog go on grass?

“Hey Amy! I’m pretty stumped and you’re the only dog expert I know. I recently rescued a Husky/Australian Shepherd that was kept 100 percent inside. He’s a super sweet puppy-named Loki–about five months old. They never let him out and he eliminated on a “trashcan lid” according to his owner. Now, he won’t eliminate outside unless it’s the last resort. He doesn’t go in the house… only on my concrete porch. Would you have any ideas on how to get him to make the transference from porch to grass? Dave”

Puppies Like Familiar Routine to Poop & Pee

The short answer to why dogs won’t go on grass and instead eliminate other places is … they’ve never gone on grass before, and it’s scary! This happens a lot with backyard breeders and puppy mill dogs. Dogs raised on cement kennel runs, or in wire cages, simply “go” when the need arises. They may never have seen, sniffed, or felt grass beneath their paws before, poor pups. Other dogs may associate pottying on the grass with feeling bad, if they had a case of diarrhea, for example.

Dogs also associate a particular smell with a safe or acceptable bathroom spot. If he’s pooped or peed on the grass before, the scent remains behind so he’s reminded what deed to do. That’s also why pet accidents in the house require proper odor elimination.

In this case, though, the Loki may also have been punished for eliminating anywhere but on the trash can. Some poor pooches have no experience “being creative” on a proper surface, and they can become terrified and traumatized when faced with a new-to-them surface. Just imagine having to “go” so badly but being scared to do anything about it.

How to Train Dogs to Go On Grass

The key here for Loki is two-fold. First, reward Loki for performing the behavior you want–eliminating in the right spot. To do that, figure out what he likes best. Maybe that’s a special treat? or perhaps a favorite toy? Basically PAY him with a reward to empty himself in the right spot.

puppy bookSecond, make sure you transition slowly. Instead of forcing him onto the grass, give him some options so he naturally makes the choice you want. For instance, get a trashcan lid and place it first on the concrete porch–something familiar he already accepts. That way, he gets to be a “good dog” for going in the right place. And after that, gradually move the lid across the porch and eventually onto the grass in the yard. Once he’s in the yard, you can transition to the grass, maybe putting some grass clippings on the can lid. You may even try to make the trashcan lids smaller and smaller so he “goes” outside of the barrier of the trash lid. Actually, if he’s going to be a big dog, as he grows this may happen naturally.

Another thought, you could get some “puppy pee pads” used for house training. They smell “right” to the dog, and use those first on the porch and slowly move to the grass. Whether you use the trashcan lid or the pee pads, be sure Loki only gets the treats when he’s creative on the grass. Of course, there are many more puppy potty (and other) tips in the book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE. 

How To Stop Dog From Pooping In Yard

One of my Facebook friends tagged me on a post. Her neighbors walk their dogs early in the morning, and more often than not, end up leaving their “creativity” on the grass in front of her house. She’s tired of picking up poop from other people’s pets. And unfortunately, the dog owners weren’t cooperative when asked to be more responsible. Yikes!

Of course, it’s always best to work things out with the neighbor. But if that doesn’t work, you can encourage the dog to avoid your yard with doggy repellent. There are both liquids and sprays that work well. I would recommend those designed specifically to shoo away dogs (so they’re also SAFE for dogs…you don’t want to hurt ’em, just keep ’em at bay). Products like Critter Ridder from HavaHart can help.

Also, if you also need to shoo away two-footed neighbors 😛 then a sprinkler system that triggers via motion sensors can help. There are a number of versions priced from low to high, but this one gets pretty good reviews.  Of course, if you know the specific time of the dog walks, you can set up just regular sprinklers to run during those times.

Ask Amy: How Do I stop dog pooping in the yard?

So folks, what about your suggestions. Have you ever had this situation of a dog refusing to use a designated area? How have you managed training for your new pups? Or perhaps you’ve had to deal with a nasty neighbor — please reassure me that YOU don’t let your dogs do the dirty next door!

Please share your tips in the comments–and feel free to add some SQUEEE! cute puppy pix, too. Of course, my Complete Puppy Care book will include many more details on all-things-puppies. But here are the basics in this Ask Amy. :)

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!


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