I have a dog that will refuse to go number two in the backyard when being walked; it will go immediately when taken out of the yard though. Why is this?

Basically, this is not specifically training; more like curiousity on this behavior and reasoning. I mean, it will urinate in the yard and will defecate if unleashed but while being walked, even for long durations and coming back from a walk outside of the yard, it will not defecate in the backyard while on a leash.

This problem is bad because my dog will always go in its cage the following day, after refusing to go while being walked around the yard.

Is my dog not comfortable going in the yard while being walked? Then why will it urinate? It will go if let loose, but it can't be let loose anymore because it escape the yard, and sometimes it have to be walked just in the backyard due to weather-related concerns or such.

So why would my dog refuse to defecate while on a leash and how could I change this behaviour?

  • My main issue isn't over the use of a singular they, it's over the use of a singular they in this context. It's awfully confusing, especially when "they" can easily be misinterpreted as more than one dog.
    – jeremy
    Aug 18, 2014 at 19:16
  • Is your backyard a lot quieter? My dog used to HATE going outside due to all the noise (people at the pool, babies crying, other dogs). Does he react in a certain way, such as show aggression or possibly pure disobedience (refusing to do anything; irritated/sad look on his face) when you put him on a leash? Is this reaction different when leashed in-doors? Theres a LOT of reasons why this could happen. A detailed explination on the settings of these areas and possibly the personality of your dog would help out a lot
    – Dioxin
    Aug 19, 2014 at 16:18
  • Does your dog poo in any other location with the same surface as your backyard? (e.g. grass, concrete, stone, etc.) My lab would only defecate when feeling grass on his backside; no grass? no poo. My dachshund will only defecate on a smooth surface. Grass? won't even squat. Long grass? won't even go in it (cause she's short, you know.)
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 21, 2014 at 18:48

2 Answers 2


For humans, generalization is very simple, but for dogs it is quite difficult. For example, "sit" in the kitchen is not the same thing as "sit" in the backyard or "sit" in the dog park. The same thing applies for going to the toilet.

For some reason, your dog thinks that the backyard is an OK place to do its business when she's off leash, but she's not OK when the leash is on. There are a number of things that might have triggered this behavior (e.g., she expects to go outside, she had a bad experience when having the leash on and doing #2 and so on).

What you should try to teach her the right behavior in smaller steps and set up the right environment so the dog will learn quickly what you want her to do.

I, for one, would crate the dog overnight and take some extra time in the morning before getting her out, in order to be sure that the dog needs to do her business. Then, if she doesn't normally wear a collar, put the collar on and let her roam around the backyard. After 15 minutes or so, I'd play a bit with the dog then pick her up and create her again. After an hour or so, I'd repeat until she does #2 in the backyard.

If she does wear a collar, simply attach a piece of rope to the collar and repeat the process above. When she's OK with the piece of string, start grabbing the piece of string when you initially take her out as if it's a leash. After a couple of days, swap it with the normal leash and that should make things easier for her to understand that it's OK to do #2 in the backyard when the leash is on.

Obviously, after she does #2 you should praise her lavishly, throw in a treat and then start a game of tug or something she really enjoys.

  • You should note that this is just one possible reason.
    – jeremy
    Aug 20, 2014 at 14:43
  • I wrote that "there are a number of things that might have triggered this behavior". As for training a dog, there are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing, this is just what I'd do. Aug 20, 2014 at 16:12
  • I should have been more clear. I meant that "your dog thinks that the backyard is an OK place..." doesn't need to be the only reason.
    – jeremy
    Aug 20, 2014 at 18:33
  • Obviously, there can be a number of reasons why that's happening, but this was my best guess considering the amount of information given. Hopefully, the OP will try it and report back and maybe notice that something else is going on (i.e. "I use a leash in the backyard because the lawnmower is on"). Aug 21, 2014 at 6:45

Your dog is waiting for the opportunity to empty his/her annal glands while defecating. She/He will only do this in strategic locations where he/she thinks most dogs or certain dogs(she/he felt) pass by. The liquid in these glands act as mail for other dogs who pass by your dog's stools.

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