Why do Dogs Sneak Away to Pee and Poop?

Why some dogs won’t eliminate in front of you, and what to do about it.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #125


If you’ve been punishing your puppy or dog for eliminating indoors, stop. 

Next, start your campaign to convince Zippy that it’s safe to pee and poop in front of you. If he won’t eliminate on leash, let him out in the backyard on a very long, light cord instead. If you don’t have a yard, of course, you’ll have to use a leash. Either way, give him as much space as possible.  

If Zippy won’t eliminate with you watching him, even at a distance, turn your back. Try to watch him out of the corner of your eye so you know whether he’s eliminated. Pretend to ignore him completely – even praising him for peeing and pooping where you want him to may scare him. 

Meanwhile, maintain a careful housetraining program. Give Zippy more outdoor toilet breaks than you think he needs. Between breaks, always keep him with you, either on leash or in a crate or pen right next to you. Since he will try to hold his urine and feces in your presence, this makes him more likely to use his outdoor toilet breaks, when you’re as far away as you can get and you’re not looking. 

If Zippy has an accident indoors, pay him no mind, so as not to keep scaring him. Use an enzymatic cleanser and, no matter how you feel, act calm, quiet, and cheerful. 

When he’s comfortable eliminating outdoors without you watching him, you can start praising him softly and tossing him a treat just after he’s gone. The praise should be quiet, because an excited tone might scare him again. 

As Zippy gets more used to the idea that the sky won’t fall if you see him pee and poop, you can make the light line shorter, or switch to a normal six-foot leash. Eventually, he’ll be comfortable eliminating on walks with you. How long is “eventually”? I can’t say. It depends on how scared he was in the first place, how resilient he is, and how carefully you practice the new rules of Non-Scary Housetraining. Be patient and expect some setbacks – you’ll get where you’re going.

Send questions and comments to dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I may use them in a future article. I’m Dogalini on Twitter, and you can also find me on Facebook, where I post links to articles and videos and respond to your questions. Thanks for reading!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock



About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).