5 Tactics to Get Your Dog to Potty in the Rain

My Pug, Willy, is a picky pottier under the best circumstances. He sniffs for minutes on end, spins a little, then changes his mind at the last second and goes searching for a better area. Any changes in the weather, such as wind, snow or rain, complicate his already-picky potty habits and make his bathroom quest even longer. But since we live in a part of the country where rain is common, it is crucial that he learn to deal with doing his business in a downpour.

Dogs have a wide range of bathroom habits — some pooches will go anywhere, anytime, regardless of the weather, but others are affected by even the smallest change in the surroundings, the surface area and, especially, the weather. Depending on where you live, this could be a major issue. While rain may not be a big deal for someone living in a dry desert climate, if you reside in the Pacific Northwest, your dog’s reluctance to potty in a downpour could be a big concern.

If you're struggling to get your pup to pee in the rain, there are some simple steps you can take to make life easier for both of you. Click through the gallery for my tips on how to get your dog to go potty in less-than-perfect weather.

How to Get Your Dog to Potty in the Rain

Dog Potty Outside

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Establish a Cue

The first step in teaching your dog to overcome his dislike of the rain is to establish a potty cue. Teaching your pet to potty on cue means that he won't need to wait for a full bladder to do his business. Every time my dogs are let outside, they are asked to potty and are rewarded when they are done, regardless of whether they pee quickly or need more time to poop.

Dog Sniffing Grass

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Pair the Cue With the Behavior

Start by introducing the potty cue under normal weather circumstances. When you see your dog just about to potty, such as when he is spinning, sniffing, or starting to squat or lift a leg, immediately say your potty cue — for example, “be quick.” As soon as your dog goes to the bathroom, give him a reward. This can be something as simple as praise and petting or a treat, or something interactive like playing fetch.

Bull Terrier Getting Treat

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Make It Worth His While

When teaching your dog to go to the bathroom quickly and on command, it’s important to identify what your pet really wants in order to give him the most motivational reward. I’ve always taught my dogs that when they go outside, the first thing they need to do is go potty. In good weather, their reward may be a stuffed food puzzle or treat, petting and praise, or outdoor playtime. On cold weather days, when they are reluctant to go outside in the snow or rain, they’ve been taught that only after they go potty can they come back inside the warm house. I also use treats on cold days to motivate them to get their business done in a speedy manner.

Dog in Rain

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No Reward Until Your Pooch Potties

Teach your dog to be fast when he's going to the bathroom by delaying the reward until after he does his business. This may mean simply standing by the bushes (or wherever he likes to potty) and giving your pooch little attention until he is finished. Without this training, picky pee-ers have little reason to go right away. You would be amazed how long a pooch can hold his pee, especially when faced with bad weather conditions. In addition, many pooches have learned to hold their pee, because their owners have inadvertently trained them to delay the call of nature by teaching them that once they potty, the walk or game of fetch ends, and they are taken back inside.

Italian Greyhound in Rain Jacket

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Dress for the Weather

Finally, though it may sound silly, for dogs who are especially sensitive to wet or cold conditions, special outdoor gear may help. A rain jacket can make wet weather a little more tolerable, while dogs who dislike wet or cold pavement or grass can be trained to wear special booties to protect their paws.

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