Had my neighbors looked out their windows at 4 a.m. this morning; they would have seen a woman wearing a pink bathrobe running in the rain and squealing “puppy” in a high-pitched voice. Hopefully, they just thought they were having a nightmare and went back to sleep.
Falcon sleeps in a crate at night and if he needs a comfort break he will give a soft whine. I generally wait a few minutes before getting up just in case he is trying to fake me out; but if he really needs to go his whine will take on what I call a pleading tone. I think of this tone as “hey mom, I really gotta go.”
He woke me up this morning, I donned my robe and we made a parade to the back door. I was still very sleepy so I paid no attention to what was happening on the other side of the door. I slid the door open and was pelted by rain immediately.
Falcon was halfway over the threshold when he realized it was raining and he back pedaled into the kitchen. He stood there looking out into the yard and then sat down and whined. He looked at me; then looked outside and started to back away from the door.
This is the point when many puppy parents reach down, grab the puppy’s collar and drag him outside. I don’t want Falcon to ever think I am going to make him do something scary or that grabbing his collar will result in something scary. I want him to think if I grab his collar; it is just a fun game we play. In a real emergency I want him to be comfortable if I have to suddenly grab his collar rather than shy away from me.
So, what to do? He obviously needed to go outside and potty.
I did what any insane pet parent would do and ran out onto the deck and did a little dance and used a singsong voice and a made-up song about standing in the rain. Did you watch the movie Babe? Remember the dance and song the farmer does when Babe is sick? That’s what I was doing.
Falcon remained unconvinced and just stood in the doorway staring at me. So, I pulled the ultimate card and went into the yard where he couldn’t see me. Falcon does not like being left behind. As soon as he couldn’t see me, he ran into the yard and then sat all hunched up beside me. I had to get him moving so he would do his business. So, I hopped and skipped and used my high-pitched puppy voice and moved around the yard. I petted him and told him what an amazing puppy he was to be out in the rain. After a few minutes he peed and we all went back into the house and shook off. Then it was back to bed.
When I woke up later this morning and let the dogs out; it was still lightly raining; but Falcon had no problems going out without me. Rain after all is no big deal.
I realize I am super lucky in that I have a puppy who trusts me like he does and a breed that tends to be more rain tolerant than other breeds. And it is summer and hot where I live; going out in the rain when it is 76 degrees isn’t the same as going out in the rain when it is 35 degrees.
I hear from many clients who complain that their normally housebroken dog won’t go out in the rain or if the grass is wet. If you can’t lead by example as I did; then consider a large umbrella (as long as your dog isn’t afraid of the umbrella). Teach the dog or puppy to walk under the umbrella when it isn’t raining or the middle of the night; so, you have that behavior already established when you need it.
But, if you stand at the door and say you aren’t going out in the rain; then your puppy might think it is scary out there. Sometimes you have to lead by example.