Ask Ethel: Can This Dog Learn to Pee on a Leash?

Ask Ethel: Can This Dog Learn to Pee on a Leash?
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updated 04/20/2010 at 01:25 PM EDT

originally published 04/20/2010 03:00PM

Dear Ethel,

I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old miniature Dachshund. Her previous owner potty-trained her to go in a pen outside, which is mostly okay. Weirdly, she will not go to the bathroom while on a leash. We travel quite a bit and take her with us. How can we train her, at her age, to go to the bathroom on a leash and not just in her pen? We would like to not have to drag a pen around with us.

–Unleashed and Holding It

Dear UAHI,

Well, the good news is that your doxie is well-trained and very obedient. It's practically Pavlovian – see the pen, go potty! If only all dogs were like her. Our carpets would be a lot less soggy and no worse for the wear.

So, how to get your pee pen pooch to go when she's out of the pen and on a leash? Why not try taking her to the pen with her leash on? That novel idea comes from Robert Haussmann, the Brooklyn-based dog trainer and behavior consultant known as Dog Boy.

"Start first thing in the morning, when the dog is loaded and ready to go," Haussmann tells PEOPLEPets.com. "She's in her safe place. Let her get used to the actual act of going to the bathroom with her leash on."

Then, if she does go, as we've all learned by now, reward her! Monitor her food and water intake so you can time when she'll have to use her pen, and keep taking her there on her leash. She'll hopefully start to get the idea with more practice, and you'll eventually be able to move the lesson out onto the streets.

The first time you go outside of the pen with your doxie on her leash, try it in the morning – the fully-loaded idea – and just stay out until she goes. When she does – jackpot! Gold mine of treats! The joy of this reward will encourage her to figure out that she can relieve herself outside the confines of her pen – as long as she's on her leash, too.

–Ethel

Got a thorny pet (any pet!) problem that you can't figure out? Try Ethel – she'll do her best to help. Send your questions to helin@peoplepets.com or send us a message on Twitter or Facebook.

Previously in Ask Ethel:
Ask Ethel: Why Can't These Neighbor Dogs Get Along?
Ask Ethel: Shy Dog Gets Sad When Her Friend Goes Away

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