Why Won’t My Puppy Potty On Grass?

AlertToday’s Ask Amy has some basic puppy potty training tips, and answers the question, “Why won’t my puppy potty on grass?” 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.


“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”


This happens a lot with backyard breeders and puppy mill dogs. This poor pup may also have been punished for eliminating anywhere but on the trash can. So how would you handle this issue? Here’s my very brief reply…we can get into more detail in the comments, if y’all like.

Hi Dave, Congrats on the new puppy, Loki…poor fellow. The key here 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–treats? toy?…and basically PAY him with a reward to do the right thing.

Second, 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 even making the trashcan lids smaller and smaller. 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.

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

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!


Why Won’t My Puppy Potty On Grass? — 4 Comments

  1. Another possible reason is that the grass may hurt the dog’s paws. St. Augustine grass has sharp edges, and all of the dogs we’ve ever have had refuse to walk on it unless dragged by leash.

    • Hmnnn, Rod, I wouldn’t have thought of that. In hot dry weather I could understand the “crunchie” factor of the grass, but I’d think a dog would have to have very tender paws for that to matter. Good to consider, thanks for the comment.

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