The Canine CliqueDear TCC,

My dog won’t go to the bathroom in the rain or wind!! I can walk him for 10 minutes or an hour and he will not go to the bathroom. If I let him out in the backyard and I go outside with him, he will sit and look at me. If I let him out there without me, he will ram his head into the door until I let him in. Any suggestions on how to solve this issue?

Beth R.

Baltimore, MD

Dear Beth,

Let’s face it. Not all dogs love getting blown around, having mud squished between their paws, rain falling in their eyes, slipping on wet ground, and even worse, going outside if there are scary sounds like thunder accompanying the rain.  Likewise, many dog owners also don’t like these things, so they and their dogs typically don’t go outside in the rain as often as they do when it’s not raining. In other words, dogs can be highly sensitized to being out in the rain since it is not something they do often enough and it seldom has a rewarding outcome (i.e. dog goes outside, dog gets wet, dog is uncomfortable and cold = not what I’d consider rewarding).

So the first thing I would recommend is getting your dog more comfortable in the rain and wind. Sometimes it only takes a raincoat, booties, or an umbrella over your dog to make him feel more comfortable. In addition to that, though, bring some super tasty treats out with you and your dog next time it is raining (not a loud thunderstorm, just calm rain) or windy. Now, when I say super tasty, I mean something for which this dog would almost eat your hand off to get it.Yes, he has to want it that badly or the training won’t work. After all, it’s got to be good enough to your dog that he’ll willingly go out in the rain if it means he can have that treat.

If you and he are already clicker savvy, bring a clicker with you. (If you aren’t clicker savvy, just bring treats.) Start off by hanging out outside under a covered area, like a porch. If your dog won’t go any further than the porch, then that’s okay! Spend a few minutes under the covered porch clicking and treating to help him relax, and then go back inside. Come back out to the porch a few minutes later, treat him for another 3-5 minutes or so, and then see if you can make it past the porch. If not, then that’s okay, too. Now you know that this is what you’ll need to work on (treating on the covered porch in the rain) until he is relaxed enough to go on to the next step.

Once your dog is okay receiving treats on the porch, move on to clicking and treating your dog for being outside and closer to the rain. Begin to walk with him and click and treat as he explores the wet outdoors. No learning takes place when dogs are under stress, so using the treats to calm your dog down helps him become receptive to learning that rain isn’t so bad after all.

When it’s raining, try to go out with your dog instead of leaving him out there alone. You are also a comfort to him, so with you by his side, you can help calm him down.

I would recommend trying these things before any other option. And of course, if you can wait until after the rain or wind to take him out, that’s going to be your easiest option. Please keep us updated and let us know how things progress!

Happy Training!

The Canine Clique

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