Thanks Marbury! Hopefully you're right and it's just a matter of time and choosing one area. I'm glad I'm not the only one with this problem. Last night when my dog did his pre-poop circle dance off leash I tried to reclip the leash right then and praise him but then he just froze up and stopped... poor guy.
Any tips on how to maintain a distinction in his head? Potty break vs. pack walk I mean. I've worked so hard to instill good manners (which are necessary! I'm a 95 lb female with an 80 lb dog in a neighborhood where most people's dogs are probably under 20 lbs... I can't have him leading me on walks), but for potty breaks ultimately he is the one who has to sniff around his spot and do the pre-potty dance.