Critter Corner: Answering the Call of Nature Despite Rain and Snow
Getting your dog to "go" on command can save you lots of aggravation.
Sandy's long and stormy reach had many devastating consequences, but for dog owners standing in the chilly blowing rain it was an experience not to be underestimated.
Dogs can get very picky about where they answer the call of nature. Wet ground, rain or slushy snow seem to be the worst offenders. If you don't enjoy standing in inclement weather, or worry about leaving for work before their business has been done outside, this is the perfect time to start training.
Training your dog to "go" on command is not much different than any other training; it takes patience and practice. This is the best time to start- before the rain and snow become a daily challenge.
The first step is to think about what commands to give. Will you feel comfortable saying "Go poop" or is "Go potty" or "Hurry up" more your style when people might be listening?
The next step is to start in nice weather and pay attention to your dogs biological rhythm. Feed your dog at regular times and take them outside shortly after. As your pup starts to do what comes naturally, say the command words, and praise highly afterwards. Giving a food treat right after also helps reinforce the idea.
If you can, take the dog for a short walk; each time they exhibit a funny gait signifying they will soon stop, give the command, wait, then reward. Some people use clickers rather than spoken commands, but any repetitive signal will work.
Depending on your dog and their gender you may want to be specific with your commands. Male dogs don't need any encouragement to lift their leg, and can be taught one command, but females pups might be taught with two different commands. What ever you decide, don't forget to praise and reward.
Patience and consistency are the byword. Two weeks seems to be the time frame of when they start to catch on, but not fully master the idea. Your audio cues will help the dog know what it should do, but unlike "sit" or "stay", "Go potty" may take a several minutes. Again patience is the key. This is a command to let them know they are outside on business, not to sniff the grass or look longingly at the squirrel.
When it gets wet and old outside your dog will understand that as soon as they have "Gone potty", both of you can come back inside. Following these steps will make your winter easier, but it can also help in different situations.
Traveling by car can be challenging. Dogs who are used to having grass underfoot may balk at gravel or sand. They are creatures of habit and commands like these will help them generalize. These commands are also helpful when you are at the veterinarian's office and a sample is needed.
Answering the call of nature on command will never win the admiration like "roll over" or "shake", but you will congratulate yourself on a well trained dog every time you run back into the warm house.