“I love my dog, but I do not love being a dog owner during a hurricane,” read one of the first Facebook posts I saw this morning. Even the most water-loving dogs may not want to pee and poop outside during 50 mile per hour winds.
During major storms like Hurricane Sandy, it may be safest to let your dog do his “business” on newspapers or puppy pads, either in the garage or inside the house. If your dog isn’t crate trained, consider using a baby gate to at least keep your dog confined to one room, like the kitchen, so that you don’t find little “gifts” behind the couch.
If you’ve got a dog who doesn’t like to pee and poop outside in any rain, here are some tips to help the process:
1. In general, it’s a good idea to desensitize your dog to the rain. You can do this by spending time outside during light drizzles.
2. Try a raincoat. Not all dogs will like this; some, in fact, while just “shut down” and refuse to pee at all while wearing clothes. But some dogs really do prefer it. We had a miniature dachshund who absolutely hated the rain; she really did prefer wearing a raincoat.
3. Umbrellas are your (dog’s) best friend. The problem here, of course, is that you need to hold it over the dog, which means that you’re going to get wet. Oh well, it’s better than having the dog pee on your new carpet.
4. Get out there with your dog. If you normally just let your dog outside in the backyard to pee, you may need to actually go with her when it’s raining. Fun? No. But definitely safer, and it’s more likely that your dog will feel comfortable enough to “go.” Keep her on a leash, even in your own backyard: dogs are easily spooked by the sound of a snapping branch or a bolt of lightning and might take off in the wrong direction.
5. It might not be the rain that’s bothering her, it might be the wet grass. Trying walking her on gravel, sidewalk, or even a driveway if possible.
6. Walking stimulates elimination. Try walking your dog on a leash around the garage for a while, if you have one, before venturing outside.
7. Use really good treats to reward your dog for peeing and pooping outside when it’s raining. Not those basic dog biscuits: bring something she really likes, like a piece of meat or cheese.
8. Praise, praise, praise. Be sure to praise your dog enthusiastically for getting things done when it’s raining.
9. As soon as she’s done, make a beeline for the house. Your dog will get the message that going potty outside quickly means getting back inside the dry, warm house quickly.
10. Some owners have successfully taught their dogs the command “hurry.” To start teaching this command: just as you see your dog going into the “squat” position, say “hurry, Fluffy, hurry.” Then praise her like crazy.