Ask Alecia: My Dog Will Only Use a Potty Patch!

Dear Alecia,

There are a lot of dogs in my complex and neighborhood so my Vet suggested we keep my new puppy off of grass where other dogs may have been until he got his vaccinations. So I bought a few synthetic grass potty patches and trained my dog to go outside on the balcony and pee and potty on the grass patch.

Now that he has all of his vaccinations I take him on long walks, and to the dog run. He gets lots of outdoor exercise, loves other dogs and people and is well behaved and outgoing. However he refuses to pee or potty any where else but on the balcony on his potty patch. He is crate trained and he does not pee or potty in the house. I also take him to work and he will refuse to pee or potty on his walks during my work week. He waits more than 8 hours until we get home at which point he races to the balcony to go on his potty patch.

I have tried collecting some of his urine in a spray bottle and then sprayed it on grass while we were on a walk and he did not urinate on the walk. I have woken up early and taken him on a walk when I know he really has to pee and we walked for over an hour and he did not pee. I also tried taking an actual potty patch with me on a walk and putting it on the grass outside. He did not pee on it. Instead he squirmed and cried to get back home at which point he ran to the balcony and went pee on the second potty patch that was still on the balcony. I am worried because I don’t want him to hold his pee and develop health problems.

Also I would like to bring him to work with me but by 4 or 5pm he is squirming so badly I know its because he has to pee so I have to leave work to get him home to pee. This worries me most because he will not pee anywhere else but on my balcony and it can be a problem if I need to travel or be away from my home for more than a day with him. Please help! — Kristy

Dear Kristy,

Let’s just say that you have a very well trained dog. Here is what happened inside your dog’s mind that created the situation. The Vet said don’t take him out where other dogs are for fear of disease. You developed a pretty clear picture in your head of not peeing or pooping outside and did a phenomenal job of teaching him to go on the artificial grass patch. Now he thinks that this is the only acceptable place.

It’s time to change the picture. As humans we don’t always realize the pictures we have playing in the background of our minds. A dog’s strongest form of communication is in pictures. We humans tend to focus on the picture we don’t want rather than the one we do want.

Just like we need to delete files from our computer, we need to delete the “Don’t Pee on the Grass” picture from your mind and replace it with a mental picture of seeing your pooch pee and poop outside and praising him for it. Once the picture changes you will feel relaxed and at ease which will make him feel relaxed and at ease and as they say, “s**t will happen.”

What I would do is take the artificial potty with you outside. Drop it somewhere and go for a walk, if your dog does not go, bring him back upstairs and into his crate. In 45 minutes go back outside, and try again; if nothing, back up into the crate. Each time bring the potty with you. Do not allow him to go to the terrace. He will figure it out within a few times of this and you will both experience great relief.

Paws Up! Alecia

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Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes.

The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine,, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.

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Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the award-winning authors of over 30 pet and travel books as well as the founders and publishers of CatTipper and DogTipper.