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Discussion Starter #1
On Tuesday a 15' x 40' dog run was installed in our yard. It is a 5' high chain link fence.

We have been staying out there with Aidan when we put him in the the run to do his business. The ground has ice on it from the snow melting and refreezing, and it has been very cold. It is too cold out there for me.

I put him out there last night and tonight just so he could do his business. I went back inside and watched him from the window. The first time, he patrolled the perimeter, tried to nose under the fence and then used his paw to try to get out by pushing against it. Then he went and sat by the gate and waited for me.

The other six times over 2 nights, I went inside and watched from the window. He was sniffing around out there, and I used my key phrase "be right back", so he knew I would return in a few minutes (literally 2-3 minutes). He immediately sat by the gate until I returned, and then wanted to come inside.

He is used to being put on a tie-out at night and has no problem with me going back in the house. We check on him every 5 minutes to see if he wants to come in (I set the timer). If he is ready to come in between these times, he jumps on the storm door, which we can hear, and we let him in.

Tonight, we put him out on the tie-out because he never got around to doing his business when he was in the run. He stayed out there for a good 15 minutes before he was ready to come in, no problems at all, and he did his business. The tie-out area is next to the run and is about half the size.

Is there a method I can use to get Aidan used to the run? It is pointless to put him out there at night if he is just going to sit by the gate and wait for me to retrieve him. I put him out there a few times during the day, and he did the same thing. I do not like using a tie-out, which is one reason we had this expensive fenced area installed for him.

If the weather weren't so cold, I'd go out there and play with him, and wait for him to do his business, but while he has no problems with traction on the icy snow or the cold, I do. I get so cold that I have to take a hot shower to thaw out -- it's like the cold gets into my bones. Maybe it's because I'm older, or because of the blood thinning medications I take, or because I am a Southerner who has been living in the Northeast for 23 years and has never gotten used to the winters.

Whatever the cause, I can't be out there in below freezing temperatures, and I can't let my little dog just sit by the gate waiting for me to return.

I'd appreciate some suggestions. Thank you!
 

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I feel you on the NE winters! This may sound, and be, stupid, but have you tried putting the tie out in the dog run? Dogs are creatures of habit to an absurd degree, and he may need both for while to get the idea.
 

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I feel you on the NE winters! This may sound, and be, stupid, but have you tried putting the tie out in the dog run? Dogs are creatures of habit to an absurd degree, and he may need both for while to get the idea.
Sounds good, but be careful he can't reach fence area as even though he has attempted no climbing of fence it's a remote possibility and could hang himself. Myself if it's not necessary to break him in now wait till warmer weather and continue old stake out program.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Amaryllis, I thought about buying a tie-out and putting it in the dog pen. My tie-out is homemade. It is a strong rope that is wrapped around on of the stone pillars on our front porch. A thick leather leash that used to belong to our collie is tied to the rope.

What I don't like is that the tie-out attaches to Aidan's collar. He doesn't run and pull on it, so far, so he is not in danger of choking. There isn't any prey for him to run after in the winter (or in the summer either, but that's neither here nor there).

The birds stay around the side of the house at the bird feeder I have set up next to a stream. The mice are probably all in my basement. The farm cats stay on the farm across the street. There are no loose dogs. There are no people walking around. The three squirrels that are here are busy at the bird feeder, too.

I swear, when we lived in a suburb of Boston until 2.5 years ago, there were tons of wild animals and cats around. We move here, with woods, streams, and farms, and none of the animals come in our yard. In or near our yard, I have seen one groundhog, two dead possums (roadkill), one small rodent in the grass, several mice and one small black snake in the basement, one feral cat who lives next door, 5 deer across the stream drinking out of it, 2 rabbits, lots of robins in the spring, and dozens of birds and 3 squirrels at my bird feeder in the winters. That's the total, in 2.5 years.

I figure the wildlife doesn't like lawns compared to woods and pastures, because sightings are so rare. Our lawn is a 2-acre treeless expanse that is plunked down in the middle of all this. It has looked like this for 95 years, except the stone house has been renovated inside. We rent, or I'd change it.

I have been attaching my homemade tie-out to Aidan's collar for nearly 2 weeks now. This is because Aidan, so far, can get out of any harness. For several months he wore a Cozy Harness that worked -- he couldn't loosen the straps and worm his way out of it. A couple of weeks ago, he was standing at the front door wanting in, and the Cozy Harness was attached to the tie-out and and was laying on the porch floor next to him. That's when I called the fence guy.

I own a lot of harnesses (I've tried 6 different ones), and he can now get out of them all. I put them on myself, and he and I have been to both to the vet and to the dog daycare so I can make sure I am putting them on correctly, and I am.

Anyhow, that's why I don't put a tie-out in the dog run ... I am too cheap to buy one.
 

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Try hiding treats in different places around the dog run. Some of the treats could be hidden in a Kong, others just set down or placed under a bucket/box or another dog-safe object.

To be honest though, he may never really DO much there alone. My dog will generally pee, poop and then run at top speed for a half dozen loops around the 40 x 175 ft yard and then will spend a few minutes sniffing the perimeter before settling down by the gate to wait for me.

If you're worried about slipping on ice, try the over-the-shoe ice cleats. I have and recommend the 'StabilICErs" which have little metal (not sharp) cleats. Not to be worn inside as it will damage hard flooring like hardwood or vinyl but will work in an ice/snow mix or an ice/mud mix. Great traction, I bought pairs for my parents and uncle last winter and they really appreciate the extra stability on icy sidewalks and parking lots.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wvasko, I have reverted to using the tie-out. This morning he stayed out for 15 minutes in the pouring rain - his choice. He was wearing a coat, so at least his back didn't get soaked.

The next time the kids go down the road to the tiny, 100 year old general store, I am sure they will be asked why the dog is being tied out when we just put up this fence. It amazes me how, in such an isolated and scarcely populated area, word gets around very quickly about everything anyone does. People get a kick out of us, probably because we are the only Citiots they have ever met. Chuckle, chuckle.

We got some respect when we had a collie, but now that we've got a useless, small, fluffy dog, that's gone out the window. :) OTOH, now that Aidan weighs 45 lbs and is in full terrier-testosterone-barking mode, the men around here are scared of him. No one was scared of our collie.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Shell, I bought some of those cleats for my husband, and that's a good idea -- I'll buy a pair for myself, too. This is our first real snow this winter; it was unusually mild before now.

Aidan isn't a food-driven dog, and he won't eat treats outside except for cut up pork chops, and only after his nose is tired. His nose is stuck to the ground, 9 times out of 10. I think he can hear the critters who live underground. He loves water, digging holes, playing with toys with a person, playing with other dogs, and chasing or being chased. A person (usually me) has to be there during his outside activities, or he doesn't do anything. I usually sit on the ground and read my Kindle while he digs holes or lies down and surveys his kingdom, because standing around holding a leash is boring.

I don't expect Aidan to stay out there alone except for business runs outside in the rain or during times when the temp is below freezing. He is a velcro dog -- he is always with me. Our collie was different -- he liked being outside, whether or not anyone was with him.

This spring, I will put a lawn chair in there for me, and I'll add his wading pool in the summer. One main benefit to having the run is that I can play with him and train him in there without him tangling me and himself up in his 20' or 50' leads. When the weather is warmer, we go on lots of walks in the woods, and I take him up to the pasture to run on a long line, too.
 

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What I don't like is that the tie-out attaches to Aidan's collar. He doesn't run and pull on it, so far, so he is not in danger of choking.
Like most dogs the best plans us owners devise sometimes go astray just be patient and he will eventually get the drift of things. As I said warmer weather and he will adjust, just for kicks you can toss a lead on him and walk him to the run and just walk him back and forth till he pees/etc in run. The poop can be cleaned up but the urine smell remains and you're just kinda kick starting a new place for him to dump etc. Even if he used the area before the run was built once the run was built it's a new place, were he my dog I would shop around for a 1.5 inch wide leather collar as it's much better/easier on his neck. The only choking I was worried about is if the dog climbed fence and went over the top he could hang himself on the fence.
It amazes me how, in such an isolated and scarcely populated area, word gets around very quickly about everything anyone does. People get a kick out of us, probably because we are the only Citiots they have ever met.
We were from Chicago and just recently got our country-bumpkin certificate, it only took us 40.5 years.
 
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