Ah, the age-old question. Every dog owner certainly wonders at least once. Why is it that dogs are so picky about where they poop? It seems as though Fido must sniff every single blade of grass, circle a certain number of times, triple check, and maybe make a decision. What seems like it should take a few minutes can go into the double digits, and it’s always when the humans are on a time schedule! So what gives?
While there’s plenty of speculation on the answer to this bizarre question, there is also an average consensus met by dog experts. Believe it or not, one idea suggests it’s just another form of marking. When dogs decide where to pee or poop, they’re likely making sure that wherever they go is the best place to leave their scent – or signature, if you will. Just as you’ve sat at a lunch table and seen “Sally was here,” written on it, your dog is notifying other dogs of his presence when he decides where to poop. So why choose somewhere no one will notice? If he’s going to mark a territory, he must do it in just the right spot.
Every dog is different, and some dogs might also just be particularly picky about where they go. Especially if they don’t travel often, they might be unsure of their surroundings and prefer to hold it until they reach the yard that’s so familiar to them. Other dogs just prefer a certain surface. They want soft, baby grass, not this yellow, prickly dead grass you’re offering! Dogs aren’t so great at generalizing, so it makes sense that a dog that’s only used one type of surface as a potty area will sometimes have difficulty learning to use another.
If you’re struggling trying to get your dog to use the restroom more quickly, teaching a potty command can help. Starting at your home is the easiest. Take your dog out regularly like you’re house training a puppy. Keep him on leash, give the command you choose (such as “Go potty,”) and let him circle around you for a few minutes. If he seems uninterested in relieving himself, just bring him back inside. Don’t wait too long, but do give ample time.
Don’t let him drag you all over the yard. Simply stand in one spot and make him choose somewhere near you, reinforcing him with “good potty,” when he finally goes. He might try to hold out on you for the first few sessions, but eventually you’ll be able to walk outside and he’ll go immediately. This also helps teaching a dog to go in one area of the yard. So if you’ve got a picky pottier and you’re short on time, try these steps and remember that searching for the best poop spot is perfectly normal.