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It's Raining - You Want me to Potty Where????
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Canine Behavior Associates
Academy of Dog Behavior
at Humane Society Silicon Valley

Level I - Starts on February 5, 2017
If you're interested in learning more about dog behavior or becoming a professional in the dog world, check out the Academy. This 40 hour class is convenient for working people, avoids the commute (Sunday afternoons at Humane Society Silicon Valley), and you'll meet a bunch of great people.  The next class starts February 5, 2017  and runs through April 23rd For more info, please click here:   Academy of Dog Behavior

 
Advanced Modules for Academy Grads at
Humane Society Silicon Valley
It's RAINING - I'm not going out in THAT!

Housetraining seems like such an easy task – almost a no-brainer.  After you’ve had your dog for a while, you might even forget what you did to help your dog learn to potty outdoors rather than on your rug, in your bathroom, or in the spare bedroom.  
 
If you think about it, we couldn’t have house pets if it weren’t for the fact that they naturally tend to eliminate away from their living quarters (translation: our houses).   Both dogs and cats have that deep instinct, which is likely associated with safety.  Possible predators cannot be drawn to the den by the smell of fecal material. 
 
It’s not like that from birth – puppies can’t move much!   So mom takes care of the problem.  We just fostered (another) litter of puppies.   All of our momdogs have been assiduous in cleaning up after their young puppies; for the first three to four weeks, you wouldn’t even know that there was anything to clean up.  But after a while, the chore can prove too much for even the most diligent of mommies, and she starts missing the ‘accidents.’
 
At that point, the puppies tend to show a predilection to eliminate somewhere other than their bedroom.   They are by no means perfect, but the intention is there!!
 
When a puppy goes to her new owner, the process continues – the bedroom is extended into the whole house over a period of time, and by the time the puppy is five months old, usually she has the idea.  Outside is where it’s happening. 

And then it starts to RAIN

Some dogs don’t care much about the weather outside.  They’ll do their business, trot back into the house, shake it off and that’s it.  Most of these dogs are likely medium sized or larger and/or double coated.  Small dogs, or single coated dogs are often quite opinionated about where they cannot possibly go to the bathroom. 
 
We’ve had many different dogs in our canine family in the last few years – a couple of Australian Shepherds, a German Shepherd, a Cairn Terrier, a Bull Terrier(??) Mix, a Pomeranian Mix…and a Chihuahua.  I double dare you to figure out which dog isn’t keen on the idea of an Outside Loo.  Here’s a hint -  it’s the only one with a single coat – the Chihuahua.
 
Like many delicate, single coated dogs, Flaca would rather avoid roughing it,  unless she is going for a walk – at which point all of her objections fade away and she becomes an outdoor girl.   We adopted her in the summer and everything was fine until it rained.  When that happened, she would hold everything until absolutely forced to go, and if one of our bathrooms was vacant, well, if it was good enough for the humans, then…  Luckily for Flaca, that was a drought year, so it wasn’t too bad of a problem.  Then last year, it rained.   Being resourceful humans, we erected a tent.   Of course, we had to take her to the tent and hang out with her there to make sure she actually used it. 

What’s a Human to Do with a Dog Like This? 

Understanding where your dog is coming from is pretty important.   Most of the dogs who object to the outside john situation don’t have a heck of a lot of physical padding, and we often don’t exactly set them up for success in that area.
Yes, they would have to go outside if they were in the wild.  But ‘wild’ is a long time gone in most of our dogs’ lives.  They sleep on beds – or on our bed – they eat good food, they hang out in our living room. 
 
They never have to face raw nature, except when we send them outside to eliminate.    From their point of view, this is distinctly unfair. 
And...more important than anything else, we don’t go out there with them! 

 
 
So, if you can be empathetic and proactive, you can solve these issues (mostly).  
  •  Add some physical padding.  Many dogs don’t like raincoats or jackets when you first put them on, but after a while, they’re more accepting.  If you do use a coat, make sure it fits your dog well, and doesn’t, um, interfere with nature’s work.  Once your dog accepts clothing, you can buy her a raincoat, several winter jackets and something sporty!
  • Set your dog up for success.  In some cases, that means creating a potty spot under some eaves or under an overhang.  In other cases (like ours) it might even mean erecting a tent.
  • Accompany your dog!  This is where we balk the most – after all, it’s not comfortable standing in the rain (mmm, did we mention that dogs don't like it either?)  But if you establish a routine where you go out with your dog, and watch while she eliminates, you’re much more likely to be successful.  In this case, the reward is going back to the house!  If she doesn’t go, then you can take her back into the house, but not to freedom.  She should be enclosed or restrained for the next few minutes, after which you try again.
Some dogs seem to have more control than humanly possible!  Our old German Shepherd, Strider, could contain himself from about five in the evening to nine or ten the next morning.   It’s a good idea to find out whether you have one of these marathoners; it means you won’t have to worry quite as much. 
 
What happens if it doesn’t work?
 
There are times when people’s schedule – or temperaments – don’t allow for long walks in the rain.   In that case, creating an indoor potty spot is not totally out of the question.  After all, we have accommodated cats’ needs in this area for years!    There are quite a few indoor potty areas made for dogs these days.   Essentially, they’re like cat boxes, but generally use sod or pads.  They’re not cheap, they don’t contain the smell very well, but at least they’re not your expensive Oriental Carpet.  
 
Other Winter Problems - Boredom and Stimulation
 
What to do you do with your dog's energy when it’s pouring outside?   
 
Dogs – especially young dogs - need a certain amount of exercise and stimulation on a daily basis.  Generally, we take care of that by walking them twice a day, or playing retrieving games in the yard or other energizing outdoor games.  So, what can you do when the weather outside is not calling to you?
 
Play Indoor games:  Hide and seek is a great game for dogs, particularly if you make them use their noses.   The olfactory lobe takes up a huge portion of the dog’s brain, and the brain uses up a ton of energy.  So if, for instance, you were to put your dog in one room (or on a sit or down stay), hide something aromatic in another room, then release your dog to find it, you’re actually exercising your dog appropriately.   Hiding several things, and then urging him to seek them all out, will make him work even harder.    If you have stairs in your house, making him run up and down in his quest is still better.   General obedience work – sits, downs, stays, leave its, or whatever, also make the dog concentrate, which uses up energy, and results in a more polite dog. 
 
On the Home Front... as of right now, two of our four foster puppies have been adopted.  We hope the new owners know they have the BEST puppies in the world!  We still have our little Mama, Kahlua, who will be available within a few days.  We'll be sorry to see her go. 
If you or someone you know would like a consultation, or to see a topic covered in this newsletter, please email k9consultations@gmail.com.
Canine-Behavior-Associates.com
Trish King
Tricia Breen

Art by Robin King
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