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Dog doesn't like new yard

June 25th, 2009, 11:57 AM
About two months ago, I moved with my 2 1/2 year old mini schnauzer from an apartment to a house with a yard. I'd been promising the dog her own yard since she was a puppy, and I finally delivered.

Well, she doesn't seem to like her yard, or doesn't see it as a place where she should be relieving herself. I give her ample time in the mornings when I'm dressing for work to go do her business, but while she'll happily go out and sniff around the patio, she doesn't like to go out to the grass. She'll wait and relieve herself in the house instead, even though she has been pretty good about housetraining the last two years. This morning I even put her leash on and took her out to the grass in the back yard, but she acted like she didn't like the way it smelled and just wanted to get off of it. I think by insisting she stand in the grass with me I just succeeded in intimidating her.

It is a small back yard and the grass part is actually out of sight from the patio, so I don't know if that is what bothers her. She has used it some in the past, although she's not crazy about it, but the last few days she doesn't even want to leave the patio. I try and keep the yard fairly clear of feces, so I don't think that's the problem. I did get a new kitten over the weekend, but she's a house cat.

We do take some neighborhood walks, but I prefer to do this in the evening as I'm usually run short of time in the morning. That was part of the reason I wanted to get a yard. Is there a way to train a dog who has been reared in an apartment (and consequently used to doing her business while walking with me on a leash) to use a yard?

Sorry for the long post...

June 25th, 2009, 12:02 PM
I think just by having patience with her....maybe if you sat on the grass then she would want to be with you and would come around bit by bit.

I know from volunteering at our local shelter, many puppymill dogs have never stepped on grass and since it is totally alien to them they fear it as an unknown, little by little they come around.

June 25th, 2009, 12:16 PM
Most dogs get used to releiving themselves on a specific type of substrate, whether grass, concrete or becomes a matter of feel under the feet to stimulate/signal them to "go".

Maybe it would be useful to "walk" her in the yard for now, on leash, so at least the motions are familiar. Do you use a potty word with her? If not, try starting...say "go pee" or "hurry up" or whatever phrase you want as a signal to her that it's time to do her business. When she goes as requested, praise like it's a crazy party ("GOOD pee!!!"). This is helpful if you want/need her to "go" someplace that's unfamiliar to her.

I second what Chris said, our GSD was absolutely terrified of the outdoors at first, she'd never been outside before. She would crouch to the ground and shake and refuse to budge. It took about a week to even get her to WALK outside, let alone potty out there, then it took a few weeks to wean her off papers/pee pads to the great outdoors. Patience and consistency of routine is key. It's also helpful if you have another dog around to show them the ropes. Does your pup have any dog buddies who could come over and show her that the yard is a fun place to be? If not, try making the yard a more fun place, play with toys, fetch, practice obedience commands with treats. Keep all experiences out there very upbeat and positive.

Dog Dancer
June 25th, 2009, 01:30 PM
I agree that making the yard a fun place to be would help. Play out there at night instead of taking her for a walk, and make sure you have treats in your pocket so if she goes potty you can praise like crazy and reward her. My dogs are 8 and 12 and still I praise them for doing poo's when we walk. I really want them to remember that's what the walk is for. That said, my 12 year old also grew up in a condo environment and she learned that you don't get to poo in the yard (it was all concrete) you wait until somebody takes you for a walk. It's only in an emergency that Shadow will poo in the yard we have now. Pee is okay, but the other not so much. Good luck to you, I think she's young enough that she'll come around if you make the yard way fun.

June 26th, 2009, 07:43 AM
Has the back yard been treated with anything? weed control or fertilizer? My huskey hated when we had the grass fertilized, she would not go on the grass. She hated the smell..

June 28th, 2009, 12:49 PM
Have you tried placing some of the poop and pee deposits from the house out in the yard? And praising them out there? I mean the poops. "Oh, what good poops, look at them out here where they belong, good poops." I think I would try taking every single one for a week out to see if that would get the idea across. Just an unfounded, wild idea for you to try, or not.