Whole Dog Journal's Blog December 11, 2012

Sardines: Not Hot.

Posted at 10:58AM - Comments: (8)

Nights with typical winter temperatures are finally arriving here in Northern California. (Sorry! I know that many of you have been experiencing freezing temps at night for weeks – months? – already.) And with the cold comes Tito’s reluctance to go outside and potty on any schedule other than his own.

Tito is a Chihuahua – well, probably a Chihuahua-mix. (Our niece, who left him with us “temporarily” two years ago bought him as a puppy, goodness knows where; he’s likely a puppy mill product.) He’s far larger than the breed standard and he has a thick coat, like a Labrador! But he has the typical Chihuahua’s aversion to being cold without a darn good reason. Suddenly he won’t come to me when I want him to go outside and pee before I go to bed. “Naw,” he seems to say from the comfort of his bed in the living room. “I’m fine! I don’t have to go! Y’all go without me!”

Otto always goes out; you never know when you might see a raccoon or stray cat out in the yard. Yahoo! Bonus! But after his pee, he wants to come right back in. In his rash youth, he wanted to sleep outside all night every night. (His large crate has an insulated cover on it, like this: gundogsupply.com/mudriver-large.html. And it’s stuffed with several layers of plush pads. And it’s right outside the back door, on the covered porch. There is no door on the crate, just the insulated cover’s front hanging down, like a tent flap, so he can enter and exit at will but still stay snug.) Every once in a while, probably on high-cat-activity nights, he’ll go into his crate instead of coming into the house after his pee, making his choice for that night. But most nights now, starting in mid-October or so, he takes the indoor option. He’s an adult now!

Tito always sleeps inside. When it was warmer, he’d always take the “last chance to pee tonight” option, but not now. NOW THAT IT’S FREEZING AT NIGHT, he skips the pre-bedtime pee – in favor of the 4 or 5 am, whining at my bedside option. Gah! Well, it’s better than just peeing in the house. So I always respond, and jump out of bed and let him out. He’s fast and businesslike – but the damage is done. Once my feet are frozen (even with socks) I have a hard time getting back to sleep.

So I’ve been working on reinforcing the last-chance pee. And as the temperature drops, it’s taking higher-and higher value rewards to get him to come to me and go outside before bedtime. Kibble stopped working at 50 degrees; cheese and even meat failed at about 40. Now we are down into the sardine temperatures. And I can’t tell you just how sexy it is to smell like sardines in bed! Ha!

Comments (8)

we don't have a fenced in yard so i have to take my two little guys out 5,000 times a day no matter what the weather is .... there are days when they have to offer me treats (dark chocolate if you please ... and they better not nibble on any!)

Posted by: Michelle Denn | December 19, 2012 8:10 PM    Report this comment

Who says sardines are not hot?!!! (says the Nordic Naturals omega oils pet salesperson ; )
Hilarious ending. love it!

Posted by: Erin H | December 12, 2012 4:40 PM    Report this comment

40 degrees?!! That's nice weather in the north east. Try sending your dog out when the temperatures hit the teens...or below! I can't say my dogs have become accustomed to these low temps, I'm sure haven't. But I've worked them into a routine since they were tiny pups. It's dinner and immediately outside to do their business. Now they eat and once they're done they head straight to the door to wait to be let. Of course, I have to give them a treat when they head back in but who can begrudge them a little something once they've made the valiant effort of enduring the blistering cold. And my treat is this...when they go out in that nasty weather they're out and in so fast they put Lance Armstrong to shame. Everyone wins.

Posted by: Armando M | December 11, 2012 9:13 PM    Report this comment

I have a Boston Terrier that likes to hibernate in the winter and delay going out as long as possible when the weather is cold. I even have to bribe him to get out of bed on cold mornings! If he won't come for a treat I let him watch me feeding a treat to my other dog--that usually gets him moving. Of course I dress him in various coats and or sweaters depending on how cold it is and if it is really cold and snowy or icy he has boots as well. He's not thrilled about getting dressed but it does encourage him to stay out long enough to do what he needs to do. I also go out with him to make sure he actually does his business--it's a hassle but it beats middle of the night emergency runs to go pee.

Posted by: PJKutscher | December 11, 2012 4:26 PM    Report this comment

". And I can't tell you just how sexy it is to smell like sardines in bed! Ha!"

... or Braunschweiger!

Posted by: Carolyn M | December 11, 2012 2:09 PM    Report this comment

In the bitter cold temperatures, I put a warm sweater or fleece jacket on my dog before sending her outside to do her business. Wearing this, she even opts to play for a while before asking to come back in. Rain, drizzle or just plain wet grass requires me to go with her - not only to encourage her to go outside, but to make sure she actually leaves the deck to do her business in the grass. Although when the deck is snow covered, sometimes she gets sneaky - running around the yard to play but doing her business on the deck which quickly melts the snow underneath and is hidden from my view unless I do a close inspection. So there are usually a couple surprises for me to find in the spring.

Posted by: ANN S | December 11, 2012 1:18 PM    Report this comment

I know this isn't what you want to do. but how about YOU go outside too at "last chance pee time" and stay out till Tito pees. YAY, then you both go indoors where you can sleep all night - knowing Tito probably doesn't really need to go out at 4am and can wait until you get up at a more reasonable time. You'd be setting him up with a familiar routine, and you can probably skip your own trip outside after a week or two when he establishes the routine. Will be important that he gets to run into the house as soon as he pees so the connection is clear. And don't CALL him for that unpleasant night trip outside - since he clearly wants to stay snug in the house you'll need to go to him and get him.Don't want him to associate his recall with anything unpleasant.

Posted by: Linda - Washington State | December 11, 2012 12:28 PM    Report this comment

In a different situation (coming back from the end of the leash when there's a squirrel/bird/mouse calling her) we had to resort to bits of home air-dried salmon. It smells and keeps better.

Posted by: hil p | December 11, 2012 11:32 AM    Report this comment

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