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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.