By Steve Dale
Like humans, most dogs don’t like hanging out in the rain. So it can be a challenge to get dogs to use the restroom when it’s raining.
You can’t blame them – would you want to stand out in the rain for this purpose? They can be convinced, though. This surprisingly common problem is best solved with positive reinforcement.
That doesn’t mean impatiently imploring our dogs to “Hurry up!” when we take them out in the rain. The dog may think we’re angry or at the least picks up on our anxiety, which is distracting and confusing.
Instead, owners of dogs with an aversion to wet weather should go out with their animals to play the next time it rains. Pet parents should don a raincoat (and maybe outfit their dogs in one, too), and do whatever their dogs like to do.
If a pet’s favorite thing in the world is chasing a tennis ball, lob a soaked ball. If treats are most motivating, take a walk around the block offering bite-sized, easy-to-chew treat like Vita Bone® Chewy Sticks, so that you can reward your dog all along the way.
Play in puddles or sing in the rain. Pretend you’re a kid again – or Gene Kelly! – and have fun. Speaking of which, if your dog enjoys playing with children, find some kids to splash around with your dog. It’s hard to fool dogs when we’re not really having fun, and most kids will undoubtedly have a great time in the pouring rain.
After a few fun rainy-day outings, dogs will no longer mind the rain. The idea is that through positive reinforcement, you can change your dog’s association from wanting to stay high and dry to not much minding doing its business while it rains.
Caution: This technique will work if your dog merely doesn’t like the rain. However, for dogs with true thunderstorm anxiety, do consult a certified animal behavior consultant (www.iaabc.org), or veterinary behaviorists (www.dacvb.org).