Is your new puppy not relieving themselves on walks? It’s odd isn’t it? After all, you would think it’s the most natural thing in the world for your dog to hitch their leg on the nearest fire hydrant as you see in the movies and have a pee. But real life is never quite so perfect or like that.
Why does my puppy not pee on walks? Reasons why your puppy might not be peeing on walks can be wide ranging including psychological reasons such as nerves, through to not being trained to do so. For example, many puppies will think they can only pee in one particular place.
In this guide let me try to expand on the most common reasons for puppies and dog not peeing when on a walk. There’s also some advice on how to encourage your pup to use their daily walks as a bathroom break so they start to wee when outside.
It will take patience and persistence, but honestly, you have the advantage of having your puppy’s age on your side. When young, they haven’t yet developed deeply ingrained habits, and puppies learn quickly.
They will soon learn that the world is their toilet and it’s perfectly normal for puppies to wee on walks!
3 reasons your puppy doesn’t pee on walks
I know it doesn’t make sense. Dogs have natural instincts, so why isn’t this instinct to pee outdoors on walks coming naturally for your puppy? Is there something wrong with them?
No, not at all! Don’t worry if it’s not happening yet, it should come in time. Here are the three most common reasons your puppy may be struggling to wee when being walked outdoors.
Picture this. For the first time, you are being taken outside.
You are surrounded by new sights, smells, and sensations. There are strange people making baby talk at you. There are kids poking at your ears. There are big scary buses and cars driving by and other dogs sniffing you without an invitation/
If all that new information wasn’t enough, you are fueled by excitement. There is no time to pee on walk when there is so much to see and do.
Being overly excited about the surrounding world is a very normal reason why your puppy is not having a pee break when being walked.
This is sometimes known as leash anxiety. Your puppy needs to acclimate to being walked on a leash for the first time.
Leashes can make young puppies feel vulnerable. Mix that with the hyperactivity of the puppy spirit and your puppy can be a bit confused when you stop at some grass for them to pee or poop.
They don’t understand what is happening and they will feel exposed and in danger… in other words thinking that they have no room to escape once they make themselves vulnerable by cocking a leg for a pee.
Puppies tend to grow out of leash anxiety relatively quickly, but the steps outlined later in this article will help with that process.
3. Effective housetraining
Is it possible that you might have trained your puppy too well?
This sounds counterintuitive but stick with me here. If you are housetraining your puppy using puppy pads at home, your puppy may solely associate puppy pads with “the bathroom”. It could be that your puppy thinks this is the only place they can pee.
Particularly in apartments, indoor peeing may be the norm for your dog. They have a certain corner and a familiar pee pad that they are well trained to use – so won’t think it’s permissible to take a wee on a walk.
It’s a less common problem with puppies who have access to a garden. If your puppy has a favorite place in the backyard to pee, they may struggle to go anywhere else.
How do I get my puppy to pee on walks?
So, as you can see, there are very valid and reasonable reasons why your pup may be holding it in when they go for walks with you – only to seem to pee every 5 minutes indoors!
Luckily, most puppies grow out of this habit quickly with some kind of instruction and gentle training you can get your puppy to pee on walks.
Here is an easy step by step guide I recommend that will help get your puppy go when they are on the go!
Step 1: Create a routine that works with their potty time
There are two aspects to this step. The first is establishing a daily routine. Dogs and puppies need structure to help them feel secure and settled in your home.
Review your own daily routine and figure out the best times to feed your puppy and take them for walks.
The second aspect is your puppy’s biological needs. Puppies need to eat up to three small meals per day. They typically need to relieve themselves 20 to 30 minutes after eating.
It is good practice to take your puppy for a walk after eating breakfast or dinner so that they haven’t had the opportunity to have pee before the walk. They will then use the walk as an opportunity to do a wee outside.
Other common times that puppies need to pee or poop are:
- After they wake up (from naps or a long night’s sleep).
- Before bedtime.
- After playtime.
- After spending time in a crate.
So, you could do your daily walk after one of these occasions too to maximize the chance of them needing to go pee during the walk.
Handy Hint: Read this guide I wrote which explains how many times a day your puppy should be pooping, particularly when you factor their meals in.
Step 2: Give them a long leash
Whilst you are on the walk, lowering leash anxiety is important. A short leash definitely amplifies this potential nervousness. Here’s a long puppy leash I recommend on Amazon.
Your puppy wants the opportunity to find the right spot to squat. Allow them a long rein to sniff out a space they feel comfortable and circle a few times.
For this to be effective, take your dog to a wide-open space like a dog park.
Handy Hint: Your puppy will need to have had the correct injections before being taken out to a public dog park. Here’s a guide to the vaccination schedule.
If during your first few walks on long leashes your puppy is still not able to have a pee comfortably, try taking them to the backyard or garden and allowing them to pee at their favorite place whilst on a leash.
They will then associate the leash as just part of the course of being outside.
You can also practice walking on a leash indoors just to get them used to the sensation.
Step 3: Be patient
It’s not your fault. We are busy humans!
It’s rare that we take our puppies for walks with unlimited time on our hands. We have a general idea of how long of a walk we should go on today and do our best to stick to that.
I completely advocate for having a schedule and sticking to it, but there is one issue here: your puppy’s kidneys may have other plans!
If you want your puppy to pee while on a walk, it is a good idea to double your walk time until your puppy finds a comfortable pee place during your time outdoors.
Give them plenty of time and space to do their thing. Rushing or pressuring them won’t make the process any faster. It’ll most likely just stress your puppy even more.
Step 4: Use a safe word
Whilst housetraining your puppy, some experts recommend pairing the act of peeing or pooping to a word. You can say “pee pee” for example when your puppy is peeing on their pee pad at home to associate the word with the act.
Peeing on command isn’t realistic. What you can do though is take your dog to a dog park and say “pee pee” just to let your dog know that this is a safe place to pee if they need to go.
Your puppy will understand they can let their guard down here and sniff out a spot if they so choose.
Step 5: Reward them
It may take a couple of weeks of going through the above steps to get your puppy to pee comfortably on a leash.
The trajectory will likely be non-linear. There may be many days that your puppy feels too nervous to go on the lead, but one day during the week they have a breakthrough.
That breakthrough is then followed by many days of nervousness again.
Non-linear progression is totally normal and expected.
One thing is for sure though. When your puppy succeeds, be the squealiest, happiest puppy mom or dad that ever was!
They will be delighted to hear that they have made you happy.
If you want to go a step beyond praise, perhaps give them a treat for good behavior too. Be relatively conservative with treat giving, however, as treats lose all meaning if you hand it out at any and all opportunities.
I have no doubt that your puppy will start to go outdoors. It’s probably going to happen naturally, but if not, the steps on how to get your puppy to pee on a walk should help.
I hope it does anyways!
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Here are more puppy tips for new owners.