Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The politics of toileting

This is not so much an adventure, as an observation - but how is it that a dog knows when you want them to go to the toilet and holds on for as long as they can to prolong the process as much as possible? Every dog I have ever owned (or been associated with) has done it - and it has always amazed me.

I was thinking about this late last night as I wandered aimlessly around my neighbourhood in the hopes that Mila would find a spot to go (why does it always have to be the perfect spot??). She had already been for two walks and hadn't bathroomed since the morning, but she didn't (or wouldn't) again at nighttime - and I eventually gave up and took her home in the hopes that we wouldn't wake up at 3am to the signature pacing in the hallway that is a sure sign that we need to go outside.

Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer) has a rule that you should never take your dog on a walk with the sole objective of having them toilet. It's no fun for the dog to get mid-way down the road, do its business and then find that they are turning around to go home again. While I agree with this to a point, I have discovered that (for sanity's sake more than anything) there must be exceptions to this rule. As an example, when it is pouring down outside (and has been for days), and neither you or the dog want to be outside without good reason, it is out and about as quickly as possible before we drown. When the dog hasn't been to the toilet all day and you get home with time for a quick toilet (and the promise of an extra good walk later on) before you have to go out again is another good one that we get caught with.

Getting Mila to go voluntarily in the backyard is never an option on these days. If it is raining, she stands under the shelter of the porch and looks wistfully at the grass and then back at me as if to say "Please don't make me do it..." before she trots back past me indoors to the safety and dryness of her bed. Otherwise, there is always something more interesting in the garden than the need to bathroom, so we explore and then come inside again.

So an enforced walk it is.

On our routine walks, Mila has two or three favourite grassy spots to go (which we affectionately refer to a "Poo's landing"). On a good day, she will get to those spots and do her thing, and after some clean up, we can get on with the real fun that is the dog walk. On a not so good day, there is no interest in these spots at all - we muck about smelling flowers, attempting to wander up people's driveways, or stopping to look at something in the distance that isn't really there. We walk slowly and sniff the ground as if we are thinking about maybe going to the toilet sometime soon - and then stand up abruptly with a "hah - tricked ya!!" look on our face. It's difficult to remain calm and positive when your dripping wet and freezing cold!

I swear she can sense when I just need her to go and takes that as her queue to go for as long a walk as possible. When she does decide to go we are at the half way point of our long walk anyway, so it's just as easy to keep going as it is to turn around and go home. 

I suppose I shouldn't really be complaining about something that gets me off my backside and out in the fresh air on those days when I would rather just stay a little longer on the couch. We didn't have to get up at 3am by the way, but we were definitely busting by the time morning rolled around.

One of those walks....


  1. sounds like a good raincoat could make a great difference?

    Have never had a problem with a dog being picky about where it wants to go to the toilet. I did have to toilet train Barbie from scratch when I got her at two years old.... which is tough with an adult dog, but now as soon as I let her outside it's the first thing she does.

  2. Yup - I have invested in a decent raincoat now. It is a life saver.

    It's not so much the "number ones" that are the problem, but the larger deposits. I would normally just take it as a sign that she doesn't need to go - but we have had to get up a couple of times in the wee hours of the morning - and I would love to avoid that if I can. Maybe it's all related to my last post about intelligence?!