4 min read

What Do I Do If The Dog I'm Walking Doesn't Poop or Pee?


Written by Kim Rain

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 05/19/2021, edited: 10/05/2022

Ready for a busy day of dog walking? If you’ve got waste bags, an extra leash, plenty of yummy treats, and good walking shoes, you may think you are all set. But you’ll also need to pack your patience and creative problem-solving skills too, especially if the dog you are walking won’t go potty.

While it would be pawsome if you could give each and every dog you walk the right amount of time for them to go potty at their leisure, sometimes you simply may not have the wiggle room in a busy schedule of back-to-back appointments. What do you do then?

In this guide, we’ll explore simple tips you can use to calmly encourage your furry client to relax and go while on a leashed walk. But first, let’s take a look at why a dog may refuse to go potty.

Why a Dog Won’t Potty on a Walk

Whether it’s your first walk with a dog, or the 100th, it can be quite frustrating when they just won’t go. If you are on a walk with a dog who won’t go potty, it may be that:

  • The dog is nervous. Dogs love consistency, and can be upset by a change in their environment. If you are walking a dog that has just moved, it’s your first walk together, or you are exploring a new route, they may not feel comfortable enough to go.
  • The dog dislikes certain surfaces. On a walk, you could encounter grass, dirt, sand, pavement, gravel, leaves and debris, or rocks and pebbles. If the dog isn’t used to some of these surfaces, they may not feel safe enough to potty on them.
  • The dog isn’t comfortable on a leash. Some rescues may not be comfortable with being on a leash yet, or they may associate it with negative things. Other dogs may simply feel too restrained to do their normal sniffing around to find the pawfect spot, especially if the leash is short or held tight to give them no leeway.
  • The dog is getting a speed walk rather than a potty walk. A walk that is too fast or doesn’t allow for any stops won’t give the dog an opportunity to actually go potty.
  • The dog was improperly trained. Sometimes, a dog can associate a punishment for peeing or pooping indoors with going potty in front of someone. This can make the dog think that they are not supposed to go when someone is near them, or watching them. And rescues are often forced to go potty indoors, which can make them uncomfortable with going outside.
  • You are showing your frustration. If you are acting upset, or trying to hurry the dog along, the dog may misinterpret your actions as meaning that they shouldn’t go right then. They are simply trying to make you happy and may think you need them to stop wasting time sniffing around.
  • The dog simply doesn’t have to go potty. At times, a dog may just not need to go, no matter where you go or how long the walk is.
  • The puppy isn’t leash trained yet. While it is unlikely a puppy won’t need to pee or poop on a walk, it is highly likely they will get distracted by the leash, or the stuff outside, and simply not get down to business until they are properly leash trained.

Dog walking can be a lot of fun, but it still takes patience and a responsible attitude. The pet parent and their dog are counting on you, so what can you do to help them feel comfortable?

Tips to Help a Dog Go Potty

#1 Always Take Potty Walks

Be sure to take an easy-going, relaxed walk that allows the dog to take plenty of stops to properly find the pawfect spot. No speed walks here!

#2 Keep the Leash Loose

Keeping the leash loose can help dogs not feel so restrained and allow them to explore at their leisure. Using a longer leash may help anxious dogs have a little more space too.

#3 Try a Quiet Route

If noises or crowds are startling the dog, try a route away from busy roads and sidewalks to give them a chance to relax.

#4 Stay Focused on the Dog

Dog walking all day can seem monotonous, but don’t tune out or stay glued to your phone! You’ll need to pay attention for physical cues that the dog you are walking needs to stop to do their business.

#5 Return to Previous Potty Spots

If there are spots where they have gone potty on other walks, be sure to take them back there. The familiar surface, area and scents will encourage them to go there again.

#6 Keep a Positive Attitude

Dogs are highly sensitive to our emotions, so be patient and positive. Don’t try to hurry them up or stare at them, just quietly give them plenty of time to do their thing. If you feel frustrated, take a deep breath and smile, and if the dog still won’t go, head on home.

#7 Give Lots of Treats and Praise

When the dog does go pee or poop for you on a walk, be sure to reward them with plenty of treats and praise! This will give them a good feeling about the experience, and encourage them to do it again on their next walk with you.

#8 Be Patient With Puppies

You’ll never know what you’ll get on a walk with a puppy, but keeping in mind that they are still learning will go a long way! Never lose your temper, and quietly clean up any inevitable messes.

#9 Communicate with Pet Parents

You should always let pet parents know if their dog didn’t go potty on your walk. But a chat with them may also reveal their dog’s favorite potty spots, surfaces they dislike, and if they know any potty commands that you can use. You’ll also need to relate leash issues or scared behavior so that it can be worked on at home between walks. 

By keeping a positive attitude and having lots of patience, you can help the dog you are walking feel safe and secure, and get down to business!

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