Pets and potty breaks

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Tensions are mounting in many South Florida households, and it’s all about the dog: She won’t go out to pee.

What’s a pet lover to do during a hurricane? You don’t want to drag your dog out the door, and even if you did, she likely wouldn’t comply with your command to relieve herself.

Although many dogs don’t like the feel of wet grass, there are several ways to get them to take a potty break during South Florida’s inclement weather.

Dawn Hanna, owner of Oh Behave Dog Training in Fort Lauderdale, says the first rule is to not force them to go out if it’s too windy or raining too hard, as it’s unsafe and may cause them trauma.

But if it’s raining moderately, Hanna recommends a time-tested lure: high-value treats, such as a strip of real chicken breast or steak. Make sure they smell it as you walk the treat out the door, and your dog will likely follow, she said.

Jamie Diaz, owner of Dynamite Dog Training, which has facilities in Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach and Jupiter, agreed with the meaty treat incentive.

“Make it fun for them,” Diaz said. “Give them a treat if they step out in the rain. Start playing games with them. Condition them.”

Part of the problem, Diaz said, is many owners don’t like to walk their dogs in the rain, and the dogs get the message.

Other options: Take an umbrella to shield you both as you walk, steer your dog toward gravel instead of grass, or find an overhang so all can stay dry.

“If you have a little dog, you can just carry them out the door,” Diaz said.

If the weather becomes too dangerous, set up a doggie pee station in your home, Hanna said. There are products made of fake grass you can buy at pet supply stores, or make your own with a kiddie pool filled with sod from your lawn.

Set up these stations near the door where your dog usually exits for a walk, Hanna said. At some point, your pup is going to have to let it all out.

“They will head toward the door when they have to go,” she said.