Ask the Dogcharmer: Chilly in Chilmark

Looks like a job for a wee-wee pad.

Housetraining is a problem for this doxy.— Courtesy Tom Shelby

Dear Tom,

We are happy new parents of a wirehaired dachshund puppy. Housetraining was going pretty well until this Arctic chill turned our yard into an ice-skating rink. Fred doesn’t like it one bit. He will cooperate with the first poop in the morning, and can be coaxed to pee, but really will not poop outside when it’s freezing and windy.

Quite frankly, I prefer cleaning up poop (we don’t have rugs, so it’s actually pretty easy!) to risking life and limb on our steps and standing outside in the freezing cold. That said, I don’t want to derail our housetraining progress.

Any suggestions?

Chilly in Chilmark


Dear Chilly,

Congratulations on your new doxy puppy. A dog pooping in the house is anathema to me. How often I’ve kiddingly said, but wasn’t really kidding when I said, “It’s amazing how much of my life revolves around feces and urine.”

That’s because my experience with thousands of dog-owning clients has taught me that even if your dog does your kid’s homework, loads the dishwasher, and takes out the garbage, but still poops in the house, it’s NO GOOD. Period.

But then, I can’t really suggest that you risk life and limb so as to avoid the possibility of a temporary housebreaking setback. So get some p-pads, also known as wee-wee pads, and place one within his confinement area as far from his den (crate) as possible. However, before you place it down, just touch one of his poops with the pad. The smell is likely to lure him to the pad to do his business. As soon as the weather permits, clean that area thoroughly with an odor neutralizer (white vinegar will suffice), and move the crate or his food bowl to where the p-pad was. As most of us prefer not to have our meals in the bathroom, dogs don’t like to make where they eat and sleep. It’s called “den instinct,” and is one of the reasons why crates are so important in the training process. Confined in the den, they learn to “hold it” till they can get out, rather than have to lie in it overnight. If you were adamant about not letting the dog make indoors, I might suggest that you keep him in your arms or in the crate when you think he’s close to having to pee or poop. Then, if you have a house door that is less directly in the wind, use that, and put him out, with you staying on the inside using a long line or retractable leash. If he just stands there shivering with no sniffing to indicate he’s thinking about making, go back to the p-pads. If he does make, praise joyously and throw him a piece of filet mignon from the Square Rigger the moment he’s done. As global warming continues, we dog owners and dogs will have to adjust to more and more aberrant weather conditions. During this cold snap, it also snowed in Florida!

Good luck,

The Dogcharmer

Have a question for the Dogcharmer? Write him at Find him on Instagram at Dog Trainer Diaries.