From the beginning, my dog Zoe was potty shy. This was a big concern when traveling because she refused to go potty away from her home yard. Until I took some advice from a seasoned dog traveler!
The Shy Dog
Unlike Zoe, Zack has never been potty shy. He’ll do his business in public anywhere.
Zoe, on the other hand, came to us potty shy. I’d let her outside and she’d sneak around the corner to the side yard to pee and poop. I’d quietly spy on her just to make sure everything was OK. And she certainly would never ‘go’ during walks. Generally, that was fine. One less poop to pick up and carry!
Overnight Trip Worries
However, Zoe’s potty shy-ness was a problem on overnight trips.
I once got to go RV camping for a couple of nights with the dogs. After the first day of no pee or poop from Zoe, I figured she’d just eventually give it up. But later on the second day I was worried that she was hurting herself. We were fairly close to home, so I just cut our trip short. As soon as we got home she snuck off to the side yard in relief.
Since that incident I added “what if Zoe won’t pee and poop, and ends up hurting herself?” to my growing travel worry wart list.
Use the Cue
Then I read a story on the Cascadian Nomads’ blog describing how to teach traveling dogs to “go potty” on command.
I thought, hmm, would that do the trick?
In a way … Yes, it did!
I started by going outside with Zoe at her usual times, stalking her across the yard to gently say “go pee” or “go poop” right when she squatted. At first she was startled and a little reluctant to have me watching. I kept at it though and became that “one person pee and poop cheering section” as Bethany at Cascadian Nomads suggested.
It did not take long for Zoe to get used to my stalking. Within a week she even stopped trying to slink off out of sight. I stopped going out with her every time, but when the opportunity presents itself I cheer her on.
I was not consistent enough to actually expect her to go on command. At this point, I was just happy she was not shy in her own yard.
Apparently I underestimate my dogs.
A few months ago, Zoe squat to pee while on a walk! Right out in public!
Then just a couple weeks later, she pooped on a walk, too. I’m so very proud of my girl :-> She still seems to prefer her own home yard to do her business, but I’m fairly certain her potty shy-ness has decreased enough to no longer be a problem when we travel overnight.
I can now scratch “what if Zoe won’t pee and poop” off my travel worry wart list.