If you're a dog owner, you may have found yourself in this position before: you wake up, get your canine pal leashed up and ready for a walk, and step outside only to find out that it's raining — at which point, this bathroom break is over before it started. Sometimes, dogs will refuse to relieve themselves outside if the weather is anything less than ideal, especially when it's raining, snowing, or even just particularly windy. If your dog won't pee or poop in the rain or other inclement conditions, there are steps you can take to make sure his needs get met (and your carpet stays clean).
Why does my dog hate the rain?
Before considering options for getting your dog to relieve himself outside, it's important to consider exactly why he refuses to set foot outdoors in the first place. Some dogs, according to Dr. Mary Fuller at Vetstreet, may have what's known as thunderstorm phobia and can become overwhelmed by anxiety at the sight or sound of rain (or snow, or wind). If this is the case, a Thundershirt may help soothe your canine friend enough to get him out the door.
Alternatively, some dogs won't use the bathroom in the rain or snow simply because, well, being cold and wet is uncomfortable. For dogs who simply prefer to not go outside when weather conditions are less than perfect, there are a few simple measures that may help get them out the door just long enough to take care of business.
How to get your dog to pee in the rain
When it comes to getting your dog to use the restroom in the rain or snow, the key here is comfort — after all, you wouldn't want to stand out in the rain with nothing to protect you from the elements, would you? You can protect your pet with apparel such as rain jackets or rain booties, which will keep her dry in wet conditions, and may encourage her to stay outside for long enough to use the bathroom. If you usually let your dog into your backyard or another fenced area, you may need to suit yourself up and join her until she's gone pee or poop. When you head out, it's a good idea to take a large umbrella with you to cover yourself and possibly your dog, even if just for a quick pee break.
Whatever the reason for your dog's refusal to use the bathroom in bad weather, the last thing you want to do is force her to go out by dragging her or yelling at her. This can lead to increased anxiety over going outside and may cause her to associate going out with being punished, which can backfire and result in indoor accidents over time.
Training tips for ongoing success
Once you've gotten your dog to use the bathroom in bad weather conditions, it's important that you reward him so that he knows that peeing outside in the rain yields positive outcomes. How you reward your pet will depend on his preferences, so find what he likes and offer it to him as a positive reward as soon as he's relieved herself, as suggested by certified animal behaviorist Steve Dale in a post for Vita Bone. You can also condition your dog to associate fun things with inclement weather by taking him outside to play in the rain or snow. Be sure to offer him lots of praise while engaging in positive reward training, and just do your best to make going outside in bad weather a fun time for all, which can give him something to look forward to in the future.
If you know that your dog does not prefer to relieve himself when it's wet out and it's possible to do so, you can also try setting up a covered area for him to go under when weather conditions are less than ideal. An extended awning, a covered carport, or even corner along the side of your house protected by a tarp or other weatherproof material can all make great options for keeping your pet dry outside. This will ensure at least one dry area that your dog can use the bathroom under, and will likely not take much additional conditioning on your part, especially if his need to go is bad enough.
If your dog absolutely will not use the bathroom in inclement weather, you may be able to avoid going outside altogether with the help of pee pads. Of course, pads are usually limited to use by young puppies or smaller dogs, but if your dog will use them and you're willing to clean up the messes that come with it, it can be an option to consider.