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Chocolate Havanese

Train in the rain

"You aren't made of sugar ... you won't melt in the rain"; how often I remember hearing that old adage. Such a gem of a saying is hard to forget as my mother and grandmother reminded me of it on each rainy day. My offered response that little girls are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice" never got me very far (sugar melts in the rain you know). Rainy days bring out the worst in me, I hate rainy days. I have heard it said that dogs and owners are very much alike, so perhaps it will come as no surprise when I am forced to concede that each and every one of the dogs I have ever owned share my foible and display an aversion to rainy days too.

It's not inclement days in general as other weather conditions pose few problems. Gently falling feathery flakes are greeted with wagging tails and eager anticipation of a foray outdoors. Even an outing into a swirling snowstorm or frigid deep-freeze requires little encouragement. Rain however is an entirely different matter.

I never walk my dogs in the rain, consequently my dogs all have been conditioned to know that it is perpetually sunny and splendid outside the front door. Never let it be said that dogs are not smart. My clever pooches, on a rainy morn, will look out the back door, see the gloomy wet day, and quickly turn around and run to the front door instead. An aversion to a walk in the rain has translated to an aversion to any time spent in the rain at all.

My eldest female will cross her paws all day long until she is ready to burst, then go out with utmost reluctance. Of course, you might think that the sodden skies would speed the process, but the opposite seems to be true. Rain slows everything down to snail speed; the entire process giving a fine impression of being led to the gallows. My dainty-pawed pluviophobe, thoroughly disgruntled, will finally give in and go out ... stand on the deck for a while, gingerly step into the wet grass, slowly (getting wetter by the minute) take one step at a time into the yard then proceed to stand in the rain, hunched over and forlorn before finally take care of business. If truth be told, I know she could zip out and be back in before getting more than a bit damp.

I can try to rationalize that a dog walk in the rain means me getting wet and three long haired dogs to blow dry afterward. Deep down I know I won't melt and neither will my dogs. With some planning and the right wet-weather wear I needn't get wet at all. If I was so inclined, I could even invest in galoshes and raincoats for my pets. I know I could turn a rainy day outing into a game and a fun time for all .... if I was so inclined that is. It's a cop out and I know it; avoidance works so much better for me; on rainy days, we play in the house.

They do say that you get the dog you want and the behaviours you allow are what you will get. I am forced to admit, albeit a little shamefaced to do so, that I am 100% the cause of the problem, so have no reason to complain. While I pride myself on being a relatively good trainer and have trained my dogs to many behaviours, tricks and exercises, at this one seemingly small thing, I am at best a dismal failure.I'm made of sugar and my dogs are too!

PS. The moral of the story is ... if you want your dogs to be comfortable and able to function in any weather, then you have to get out there and practice whether rain or shine.