The cold weather has come to Michigan once again, and it’s Murphy’s second winter. He loves jumping through the snow, tries to yank up branches frozen to the ground, and chases all the squirrels frantically gathering the walnuts at my mom’s house. What he doesn’t love is going outside to potty. So instead, he finds places to poop inside, and he’s even started peeing inside. And it’s not his fault.
“Really?” you might ask. “It’s not his fault? It’s a bad behavior! He’s ignoring his training.”
Yeah, I thought that too when this started happening, for about 5 seconds.
But it’s really not. Dogs don’t pick up on societal cues the way humans do. They will never understand that it’s gross when they sniff butts or eat goose droppings. So it’s up to us to show them the way OUR society wants THEM to act.
A few things I’d like to point out here:
- The last time it was winter, Murphy was only 6 months old
- He was still going potty inside, even though we were trying every trick in the book to convince him going outside was great fun.
- He’s still a puppy
- Training never really ends
What happens when it gets cold outside? We bundle up inside. We get comfy on the couch, with a cup of hot cocoa and our favorite Hallmark movie playing on the TV.
We don’t take the dog for walks as often as we should.
Sure, I put Murphy out in the backyard with the hope that he’ll just go potty if I put him out there often enough. He even wants to go outside just as often as in the summer. But I know he’s much more likely to poop if I take him for a walk. It’s not his fault he’s breaking his training and pooping under tables. It’s mine.
With dog training, consistency is key. Just because he hasn’t had an accident in a few months over the summer doesn’t mean that streak will continue when I change my routine. I need to change it back and keep walking Murphy–even though it’s freezing cold outside and I have to take my gloves off to tie up a poop bag–to give him the consistency he needs to learn that his bathroom is outside and not on my mom’s carpet, no matter what the weather is outside.
Don’t want your dog jumping up to say hi? Don’t let ANYONE pet him or give him treats when he’s jumping up. As soon as the consistency breaks (even if it’s your great-uncle who’s never met him before and how could he have known?), he’ll do it again and again. Prevent the possibility of losing consistency by crating your dog when new people come over, so you can control the meet and greet process when everyone is settled.
Is your herding dog beginning to nip at ankles during playtime? Stop play EVERY time, consistently. Your pup will learn that when he nips he won’t have any more fun. But if your niece comes over and lets him nip while they roughhouse, it’s fun again and all that training just went down the drain.
If you want your dog’s training to stick, you have to stick to your training too!