Can't stand the rain...
November 3, 2010 11:45 PM   Subscribe

My otherwise delightful pup Lyle (obligatory pix) has decided that pooping in the rain is beneath his dignity.

Lyle is a 4.5 yr old JRT, who was housebroken when I adopted him at one year. He has the full run of the house (he's phobic about crates) and access to the backyard, where he happily goes outside to do his business. On sunny days, that is.

On rainy days (and we're just entering the rainy season in SF, which will last through March or April), he's decided he's too good to poop in the rain (after all, humans don't poop in the rain, and he's just as good as a human!), so he'll go downstairs to the open door and poop right there next to the door. Never elsewhere in the house, but just in the spot he's decided is acceptably close to the approved bathroom area.

I'm not thrilled about this, and at this point I'm not sure how to fix it. He knows he's supposed to go outside. He goes outside when it is not raining. And because I am not catching him in the act, there's no way for me to correct him verbally or give him positive rewards for doing the right thing (going outside). He gets plenty of exercise (goes out for 2 hour off-leash runs at our local parks with his dog walker) and eats healthy organic food, so at this point, I think it's not anything physical, just the typical JRT attitude of superiority where he's decided that if humans don't stand in the rain to poop, there is no reason he should have to.

Any ideas?
posted by judith to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
Well... For now... Place a couple newspapers down in his area of choice lest he decide he needs to go while you're waiting for more helpful answers to this query?

PS: PUUUUPPPYYYYYY. I'm still lol'ing. Why do animals look so damn cute in clothes? It boggles the mind.
posted by patronuscharms at 11:49 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you have room to put up a patio umbrella over his approved bathroom area?
posted by jamaro at 12:13 AM on November 4, 2010

Here are few things to think about. They will work best in conjunction with each other. It's essentially the same problem as housetraining.

- Fence or gate off his access to the house so that he only has access to a very small area where he will sleep, eat, and play. He will not want to go where he sleeps and eats.

- If he does not handle this well, you can also leash him to you so that he's always near you, so you can catch him before he goes inside, and take him out. I'm sure you know the common signs of your own dog needing to go. There's usually a change in posture, sniffing the ground, pacing, increased tension...

- Take him for walks on leash. Most dogs will feel the need to go once they start walking and then you can reward and praise him for doing the right thing.

My own dogs will put off peeing for up to 24 hours when it rains, but once they're outside on leash, they quickly ignore the rain and go back to their sniffing, peeing, pooping selves. I just keep the raincoat handy and suck it up.
posted by hindmost at 12:30 AM on November 4, 2010

*written before previewing hindmost's answer, but the more the merrier :) ...*

My dog usually goes during walks, but the backup is that she goes outside in the courtyard on her own through the open door. But like Lyle, she won't go outside on her own in the rain. But she will go for a walk with me in any weather, and do the needful along the way. Do you know if he is willing to go out with one of you in the rain — either to the yard or on a walk? If so, you'll need to figure out a plan to get him used to this other way of doing things. For example, if you gate the entrance to the stairway (when it's raining), and keep an eye on him, you should see when he becomes agitated because it's time for him to go... then you quickly leash him, grab the umbrella and take him out. If he's as regular as most dogs, you'll begin to know when it's time for him to go out.

Or... can you install some sort of overhang or canopy outside your downstairs door to create a dry space just outside the door? (May or may not work -- it could be that he just won't go out there when it's raining, even if there a dry patch and he's not getting wet.)

Otherwise, all I can think of is training pads in his preferred spot, or possibly something like this (which I have zero experience with).
posted by taz at 12:38 AM on November 4, 2010

Yeah, the challenge is that he sometimes is alone for long-ish periods of time on weekdays between when he comes home from his walk with the dogwalker (2:30 or so) and when I get home if I go out after work (1-2x/week at 9 or 10pm), which is why he has access to the outside in the first place. I feel like restricting access to the outdoors would make it even more likely that he considers the indoors an acceptable bathroom.

I suspect the canopy/umbrella/awning solution may end up being the best, though I was hoping for behavior modification (his, not mine!) rather than home modification.
posted by judith at 12:45 AM on November 4, 2010

Ah! I understand. I was assuming that the outside door was open only when someone was around. The only behavior modification that I can think of is to begin taking him out to the backyard when it's raining and you are home, and doing the usual positive reinforcement — mega praise and treats for doing his thing out there in the rain, which may work over time. (Though I have to admit, I'm feeling very doubtful that such intermittent training would work with my dog. Up with some things she will not put! And going out in the rain on her own seems to be way up there.)
posted by taz at 1:59 AM on November 4, 2010

Your dog is absolutely adorable. Almost adorable enough to let him poop wherever he wants---almost. The other advice here has been good. Here's a little more:

Can you pick up your doggie and carry him outside and wait for him to poop in the rain? If you know his "poop face" you may not have to be outside long.

When I was training my shepherd puppies to go outside to relieve themselves--rain or shine--If I could catch them in the act, I would say "no no no no no" and scoop them up in my arms and carry them outside. I got poopy and pissy hands and arms sometimes, but they learned my expectations and got wild praise for pooping outside. They also learned the command "Poo Poo."

If I couldn't get to them fast enough and they pooped inside, I'd act very disappointed and say "Oh, No Oh, no"and kinda wouldn't look at them for a few minutes. I acted broken-hearted. I wouldn't let them see me clean the poop.

Now, these were shepherd puppies who were just dying to please. Terriers are more independent-minded, I think.

Good luck with this!
posted by WyoWhy at 4:44 AM on November 4, 2010

Most of what I have to offer here is that I once had a dog who was incredibly neurotic in a lot of ways and oftentimes afraid of everything. She didn't like going out in the rain because the noise scared her.

Does he pee in the rain? Or does he just not like going out in it at all?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:31 AM on November 4, 2010

Our dogs are the same way. THey just don't like getting wet. We're lucky though that we have trees to shade them from the rain. So you can always try going out with an umbrella. You're going to need a canopy.
posted by stormpooper at 7:15 AM on November 4, 2010

The only thing I can think of is to do more activities in the rain with him. Can you take him out in the backyard and throw a ball while it pours? Or maybe hide a bunch of interesting treats, then let him out to root around for them himself. Associating backyard rain with something fun might help him get over his issues.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:20 AM on November 4, 2010

Again, this is only happening when I'm not home, or in the middle of the night when I'm asleep, so I'm not able to catch him in the act and take him outside or reward alternate behavior. We do go out in the rain fairly often (as it sometimes rains for a week straight here), but it seems like he has just decided that going out in the rain on his own is something he has zero interest in doing.
posted by judith at 8:44 AM on November 4, 2010

Not sure if it would work, but have you considered putting him outside, or having him be put outside by the dogwalker, especially when it rains? It would depend, I suppose, on how long the rain lasts in your area (days non-stop, or interspersed with sunny bits every few hours?), but if he dislikes going out in the rain on his own, and you're seeking to modify this behavior, such a solution seems one of the most logical. If it's raining (or whether or not it is), the dogwalker could put him out when he/she brings him back to your place. You let him in for only supervised time and when it's raining, put him back out until you plan to go to sleep. It wouldn't solve his needing to poo at night, but he can't possibly go from about 2:30 to whenever you go to bed without pooping.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:32 AM on November 4, 2010

Every dog I've ever had has been like this. I put a patio umbrella just outside the dog door every winter, and that seems to take care of the problem. Plus it solves the 'where do I store the umbrella in winter?' problem at the same time!
posted by thatone at 9:50 AM on November 4, 2010

this is only happening when I'm not home, or in the middle of the night when I'm asleep

So, he's putting off going out until he absolutely can't hold it anymore, and the goes on the floor. He needs to know that he HAS to go out and poop in the rain. You're probably going to have to take him out and wait until he does go, or else crate him when you're not watching him.

If you take it back to potty training (keep him observed full time unless he's crated, take him outside *immediately* after eating or drinking each time) you'll probably progress fastest to getting him back to going outside instead of occasionally going inside.

When I say "crate," by the way, you don't have to use an actual crate. You can use an area babygated off, or otherwise contain him so that he doesn't have room to poop and then move away from it. I've never used actual crates for potty training, but the concept is the same.
posted by galadriel at 9:51 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in that you're not alone in this--it's the case for both of my mom's dogs, too (the older one now also hates going out in the cold, as she's arthritic). Her solution was to teach them to/allow them to poop in the basement, which was acceptable for her. YMMV.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:00 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've read that pets cue for release by the texture under their feet, such as grass or newspaper. Hence a patio umbrella works per several above, but a held umbrella does not.
posted by gregoreo at 3:19 PM on November 4, 2010

We do go out in the rain fairly often (as it sometimes rains for a week straight here), but it seems like he has just decided that going out in the rain on his own is something he has zero interest in doing.

Yeah, that's why I'm thinking that hiding a bunch of cheese cubes or whatever outside next time it rains and then letting him find them himself might make him more inclined.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2010

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