Dear Porky and Buddy,
My chihuahua, Ernest, is a perfect dog in every way except for one thing.
He hates to go outside to do his business when it’s really cold.
He really hates it and even if I put him out, he just wants to come right back in and then he waits for a while and poops somewhere inside where I find it later.
I yell at him when I find it and he looks guilty, but he still keeps doing it when it’s really cold.
How can I teach him to go outside even when it’s brutal out there?
Let’s be realistic and create a plan.
Ernest is a chihuahua, not a husky.
Of course, he hates going outside for any reason when it’s bitter cold.
But he would rather go outside than do it in the house, as would all dogs, if you would just make it doable for him.
So first, make sure he has an acceptable outdoor bathroom.
A snow drift is not acceptable.
You need to shovel an area, preferably where he usually goes in better weather, down to the ground and big enough for him to sniff, turn around, squat without having to sit in snow.
And don’t just throw him out the door and call it a day.
Go out there with him so that when he does go, you can praise him lavishly and give him a treat.
For that you will need to bundle up, and realistically, so will Ernest.
Even though he doesn’t need to stay out for a long time, he’s a chihuahua.
Put his jacket on.
Basically, you need to make pottying outdoors fun, no matter what the weather.
Take Ernest out regularly during waking hours, to give him an opportunity to eliminate in his area.
When he goes, you are out there with him (all bundled up) and can judge whether he wants to play outside for a while or would rather head right back to the door.
Let him call the shots about that but be sure to praise and reward him every time he does it right.
Where he has had accidents in the house, clean those areas carefully with an enzyme based cleaner.
You need to be certain you are removing all odors that might make Ernest think this is an OK indoor spot.
If he keeps making mistakes don’t yell at him.
He has no clue what you’re yelling about.
He’s just doing what he has to do.
Punishing Ernest for an accident doesn’t teach him that it’s wrong to potty inside.
It teaches him that it’s unsafe to potty around you.
If you see him in the middle of an accident, gently interrupt him and immediately take him to his outside bathroom as a reminder.
If you don’t catch him in the act, just clean it up and be more diligent about getting him outdoors on a regular basis.
You probably already have a sense of when he is likely to go willingly in warmer weather.
Make sure you take him outside at those times.
Take him to his area, talk to him, make it fun.
Don’t force him to stay out for a long time but long enough for him to decide what he needs to do.
And be patient.
Patience is always key.
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