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I know there's a million posts about pooping, but I haven't found info on my situation. I have a 4 year old male German Shepherd. When we tell him to "go to his spot", he does, and usually goes pee. The problem is that when we leave him out back in our fenced yard, he will potty anywhere he wants. We have tried walking the dog to his spot and giving the command. We have tried praise when he does. We have tried only letting him outside to go potty, no free time. We have tried escorting him to the spot while telling him to go to his spot, praising and treating for pooping there, then rewarding with free time in the yard. Every time he is attended, he will potty where he is supposed to (a large area we have marked off in the corner of our yard with visible lumber planks). But whenever he's out there alone, it's like he purposely will not use his spot. This is getting unbearable, as I desire to allow my dog unattended free time and for my yard to be my child's play area, not my dog's toilet. What else to I need to do to get this dog to poop in his designated area ALL the time, not just when our eyes are on him? Thank you for your advice.
 

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Dogs should not be left outside to their own devices. And dogs don't do things like that on purpose or out of spite, that's not how their minds work.

I don't think you will effectively be able to get your dog to poop in the same place every time if he's alone. Its best to just go out with him and either lead him to his spot or let him poop where he wants, and then pick up the poop and dispose of it appropriately so your kids can play without the risk of stepping in anything.
 

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I agree, leaving a dog outside unsupervised is never advisable, not a good goal.

Your best bet is to supervise and pick it up as soon as he goes.
 

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I might be in the minority, but I believe that as long as you are home, and able to "look out" on him every once and a while, and you are SURE the yard is escape proof, then I see no issue with a dog being outside as long as the weather is okay and all, as well. My dog, even here, with only a porch to go out on, will often choose to stay outside, I have to tell him to come inside when it gets too hot, LOL.

At my parents, they have a 1 1/2 acre fenced yard with tons of shade trees and a huge wrap around porch, all the dogs stay out there during the day and come inside at night.

As far as the pooping, how are you feeding him? if he is free fed, give him scheduled meal times so you can better predict when he will have to poop. Even then, you will have to, until he gets it (and he might never get it, I personally have never had any luck with this kind of training to get the dog to potty in a certain area on their own) physically take him to the designated area and NOT let him eliminate anywhere else, which will mean keeping him inside unless he has to go, or you are out watching him.
 

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If you reward him pooping there heavily enough, I think you could form a solid habit. Is there some way you could keep an eye out and reward him for going there when you're not in the yard (like look through the window and run out to reward him)? That would be most effective, I think. It might not ever be a 100% thing though.
 

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I might be in the minority, but I believe that as long as you are home, and able to "look out" on him every once and a while, and you are SURE the yard is escape proof, then I see no issue with a dog being outside as long as the weather is okay and all, as well. My dog, even here, with only a porch to go out on, will often choose to stay outside, I have to tell him to come inside when it gets too hot, LOL.

At my parents, they have a 1 1/2 acre fenced yard with tons of shade trees and a huge wrap around porch, all the dogs stay out there during the day and come inside at night.
I agree with this. I think the "OMG NEVER EVER EVER leave your dog outside" mentality is just a little short-sighted. For some people, that makes sense. For others, and certain dogs, maybe not so much. I live on 20 acres and don't have a fence. I let my dog out to use the bathroom while I'm getting ready in the mornings, or at night before we go to bed, or sometimes just when she wants to go out. Sometimes I'm out there with her, sometimes I'm not. Now I don't leave her out for long without checking on her, and she didn't always have this much freedom (it took a while to get there), but I just disagree strongly with the blanket statement that you shouldn't ever let your dogs out in the yard unsupervised. You have to know your area, and you have to know your dog.

As for the pooping, I think it's a tad unfair for the dog to expect them to do their business in the same spot every single time. As someone else said, they just don't think that way. You can try, and be mostly successful, but I doubt there will ever be 100% compliance there. I'd say pick it up, or put a barrier up around his "area" to confine his business from the rest of the yard.
 

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I agree with this. I think the "OMG NEVER EVER EVER leave your dog outside" mentality is just a little short-sighted. For some people, that makes sense. For others, and certain dogs, maybe not so much. I live on 20 acres and don't have a fence. I let my dog out to use the bathroom while I'm getting ready in the mornings, or at night before we go to bed, or sometimes just when she wants to go out. Sometimes I'm out there with her, sometimes I'm not. Now I don't leave her out for long without checking on her, and she didn't always have this much freedom (it took a while to get there), but I just disagree strongly with the blanket statement that you shouldn't ever let your dogs out in the yard unsupervised. You have to know your area, and you have to know your dog.

As for the pooping, I think it's a tad unfair for the dog to expect them to do their business in the same spot every single time. As someone else said, they just don't think that way. You can try, and be mostly successful, but I doubt there will ever be 100% compliance there. I'd say pick it up, or put a barrier up around his "area" to confine his business from the rest of the yard.
Right, I think it's of course based on where you live, etc ... of course if you are in a bad neighborhood you might not want to leave your dog out there even when you are home, but I live in a rural area, and my parents are so remote, that the nearest neighbor os acres away. Plus their house is at the back of the property, which is 70 acres.
 

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I have a designated potty area, I try to take the dogs there first before bringing them to the 'play' area of the yard. But they will still potty in the play area, if they have to go. I'm ok with that, I just pick up any poop that happens in the play area immediately, where as the potty area gets picked up only every day or 2.
If you really want him to only go in the potty area you would pretty much have to teach it like you did house training. NEVER allowing the dog to go in the play area, through careful supervision and rewarding heavily for going in the right place. You would also have to work on 'hiding' while still watching the dog so he learns that he still has to go in the potty area while you aren't around.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thank you everyone for the input. Forgive my ignorance, I have never known that I should not let my dog play outside by himself. If you would please, why not? My neighborhood is safe, the yard is fenced, there is nothing dangerous for him to get into. He's a 100lb German Shepherd; is he really expected to stay cooped up in the house all day? We cannot walk him daily, and he likes to chase the poor rabbits.
Edited to add: the dog is outside alone for only a few hours at a time, usually just once per day. He is not an "outdoor dog" that is left outside all day,every day.
 

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Dogs without supervision can become bored and get into trouble by digging, barking, charging fences, etc. Not only that, but being outside is not equal to getting exercise, most of the time dogs left outside are laying down or waiting by the door so it doesn't really benefit them in that regard. If your dog so pleased, he could probably find a way to escape the yard get into trouble. It happens a lot, so it's common for us to tell people not to even risk it.
 

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Thank you everyone for the input. Forgive my ignorance, I have never known that I should not let my dog play outside by himself. If you would please, why not? My neighborhood is safe, the yard is fenced, there is nothing dangerous for him to get into. He's a 100lb German Shepherd; is he really expected to stay cooped up in the house all day? We cannot walk him daily, and he likes to chase the poor rabbits.
Edited to add: the dog is outside alone for only a few hours at a time, usually just once per day. He is not an "outdoor dog" that is left outside all day,every day.
I'm not a fan of dogs outside when owners are NOT home, however, I don't have a problem with adult dogs being outside in a securely fenced yard when the owners are home and are frequently looking out/checking on the dog so as to be aware of any changing weather (incoming storms, heat rising etc), digging or destruction, and to be immediately there if the dog starts barking excessively. (Prior to his knee surgery), I'd let Chester relax in the yard while I did chores around the house and peek out on him every 10 or 15 minutes, he wouldn't really do anything more than sniff around and laze in the sun anyways. On the other hand, a daily walk for a 4 year old GSD is kind of a NEED rather than a want, ya know?

That said, if you are not outside with your dog, it is nearly impossible to train or prevent any behavior. One bit of grass isn't much different than the next bit of grass and dogs do tend to want to sniff around for the perfect potty spot, which is rarely the last used potty area. It isn't like he is being "bad" by pooping somewhere in the yard that isn't an arbitrarily designated area, it is still outside to him.

Take the dog out on a leash to a potty spot, clean up after him and then let him loose. Most adult dogs only poop once per meal (as in, feed breakfast, potty trip 20-30 minutes later and the dog is good until after dinner). Quick patrol of the yard when you bring him back inside. If you keep the grass cut short, poops should be easy enough to see from a dog that size.

Or, if you are really concerned about cleanliness, fence off the yard into two separate sections.
 

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Thank you everyone for the input. Forgive my ignorance, I have never known that I should not let my dog play outside by himself. If you would please, why not? My neighborhood is safe, the yard is fenced, there is nothing dangerous for him to get into. He's a 100lb German Shepherd; is he really expected to stay cooped up in the house all day? We cannot walk him daily, and he likes to chase the poor rabbits.
Edited to add: the dog is outside alone for only a few hours at a time, usually just once per day. He is not an "outdoor dog" that is left outside all day,every day.
Well, no, he isn't expected to stay cooped up. You're expected to be doing things with him and meeting his exercise and mental stimulation needs. Walks, hikes, training, fetch, etc. For an active breed like a GSD that's not really optional.

My neighbourhood is safe and my yard is fenced. The other day I looked up (yard is right off the living room with a window outside) and saw several children sticking their arms through our fence at my dog. Thankfully she just sat back from the fence and looked at them like "what the heck are you weird people doing" but that could have easily ended up with a bitten kid and dead dog with a dog not as easy going.
 

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Maybe you could try making some kind of wooden box around the area you want him to go so it is more discernible from the rest of the yard? My dogs poop in designated spots, but occasionally they will poop somewhere else. I don't think it will be 100% unless you are out there with him.
 

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Thank you everyone for the input. Forgive my ignorance, I have never known that I should not let my dog play outside by himself. If you would please, why not? My neighborhood is safe, the yard is fenced, there is nothing dangerous for him to get into. He's a 100lb German Shepherd; is he really expected to stay cooped up in the house all day? We cannot walk him daily, and he likes to chase the poor rabbits.
Edited to add: the dog is outside alone for only a few hours at a time, usually just once per day. He is not an "outdoor dog" that is left outside all day,every day.
I used to be one of those people who said they would never ever leave their dog outside without being there with them. That was when I just had Dahlia. Who would never go into the yard on her own anyway and is so chill as to almost be a rug. But my new dog? He LOVES just sitting in the yard watching the world go by. And I'm not about to sit outside with him for hours everyday while he just lays there and watches stuff. In nicer weather (60 or above), we often just leave the back door open when home and he can come and go as he pleases. When it's a bit cooler and still comfortable enough for him, he knows to bark when he wants to come in. We keep an eye on him and go out and play from time to time, but he's literally happiest hanging out back just watching squirrels and birds in the trees.

My only issue with what you've said is that you don't walk him daily. Does he get enough exercise in that yard? Ben gets walked every day (sometimes twice) and usually gets a good game of fetch or a game with our other dog in the backyard. So he gets plenty of exercise.
 

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And just a thought regarding the pooping thing. Combined with other suggestions if he starts to go there on his own when you're outside, watch out a window. When he goes there, get out there ASAP and jackpot the heck out of it. SURPRISE REWARD!
 

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I'm not a fan of dogs outside when owners are NOT home, however, I don't have a problem with adult dogs being outside in a securely fenced yard when the owners are home and are frequently looking out/checking on the dog so as to be aware of any changing weather (incoming storms, heat rising etc), digging or destruction, and to be immediately there if the dog starts barking excessively. (Prior to his knee surgery), I'd let Chester relax in the yard while I did chores around the house and peek out on him every 10 or 15 minutes, he wouldn't really do anything more than sniff around and laze in the sun anyways. On the other hand, a daily walk for a 4 year old GSD is kind of a NEED rather than a want, ya know?
This.

My dogs LOVE being outside when the weather allows, even here, when I only have an enclosed porch they can be out on, they still enjoy being outside watching the world go by. I just ... dont see the reasoning behind someone who doesnt want to leave their dog out in their secured fenced yard while they are home, I mean you will be there, looking out on the dog every now and then while you go about your day, what's the harm?

That said, if you are not outside with your dog, it is nearly impossible to train or prevent any behavior. One bit of grass isn't much different than the next bit of grass and dogs do tend to want to sniff around for the perfect potty spot, which is rarely the last used potty area. It isn't like he is being "bad" by pooping somewhere in the yard that isn't an arbitrarily designated area, it is still outside to him.

Take the dog out on a leash to a potty spot, clean up after him and then let him loose. Most adult dogs only poop once per meal (as in, feed breakfast, potty trip 20-30 minutes later and the dog is good until after dinner). Quick patrol of the yard when you bring him back inside. If you keep the grass cut short, poops should be easy enough to see from a dog that size.

Or, if you are really concerned about cleanliness, fence off the yard into two separate sections.
Agreed, I personally find "go in one spot in the yard" kind of training pointless, I am just glad when they learn that outside is the "potty place" LOL and "grass is where you go". I can take my dog to ANY patch of grass no matter how small and he will go.
 

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Aaaaand then you have the people whose yards are almost entirely mulch with a small strip of grass and then they get annoyed when the dogs want to pee on the grass... LOL
 

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Penny potties on the cement patio :/. Her Majesty doesn't like squatting in grass I guess. She'd be a good city dog, lol.
 

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I drill it into their heads from day one NOT to go on any surface other than grass ... guess I would be doomed if I ever visited NYC with the dogs haha.
 
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