Dear Dr. Diane,
My dog, a former rescue, will not urinate when she’s on the leash. (We have a fenced yard so she doesn’t HAVE to go while on the walk.) Why do you think she does this and should I be trying to train her to urinate while on a leash? I’m worried that someday we might have to board her and she won’t urinate! (She also will not let another dog smell her when she meets another dog.)
More than likely, you will never know the circumstances that your rescue dog has experienced or endured in the past. She may have been kept tethered to a tree or chained to a mobile home and does not feel comfortable urinating when “bound.” She may even associate urinating while on leash with a form of punishment whereby her previous owners “forced” her to pee at their command under pressure of physical or verbal abuse or punishment.
Have your dog examined by a vet to determine if there are any physical health issues such as any urinary tract infections that may explain or be responsible for her behavior. In light of her past experience, she simply may not feel comfortable urinating while on a leash. I would not worry about her refusing to pee while being boarded. If she has to go, she will! I wouldn’t force her to go while on a leash – simply encourage her through behavior modification and approval if she does urinate while walking on a leash. Also, she may be frightened of other dogs due to previous negative experiences. If she doesn’t wish to let another dog smell her, simply accept this. Do not permit any aggressive behaviors on her part. You may wish to consult with an animal behaviorist to spend some time with your dog, to assess her behavior and to help determine the causes of her issues.
Dr. Pomerance is an animal behavior specialist and an expert on topics such as deciding which puppy is best for your family, how to pick out a rescue, and on healing from the loss of a pet.
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