Look around, do you see the ocean out every single window? Do you feel a slight sway in your living room? Are you wearing a shirt with billowing sleeves? If you answered no to all these questions, then you are most likely not a pirate. Phew, you can take off the eye patch as well and read this more clearly.
If you are not actually a pirate then you do not actually need a poop deck. However, your dog might not have gotten the memo and may be having a high time turning your lovely Colorado deck into a poop deck* all his or her own. Not only is this a fairly disgusting habit, dog urine stains and damages the wood that you so carefully chose. Here are some tips to help your Fluffies and Fidos redirect their efforts.
First, pay attention to the patterns of your dog’s business. Do they tend to go at the same time from day to day? Training the dog to avoid the porch will mean spending some time with them, so knowing when they go will help you set up reminders for yourself and schedule accordingly. Don’t worry, this won’t last forever.
Once you know the schedule, then take your dog out on the leash and guide them away from the deck until they are all cleared out. This stretches your legs as well. If you have a shy dog that needs some privacy, you can use a long lead line, just stay out there to guard the deck. For this part, you can pretend to be a pirate–and no foul enemy of poop shall board your ship!
If the dog has started pooping on your deck, then perhaps it likes to keep to a specific area for its business. This can be used to your advantage! Not only can you train it not to poop on your deck, but it can be trained to keep its poop to a specific area of your outdoor space. That avoids the “sticky” situation of spoiled shoes in the middle of a backyard ghost-in-the-graveyard game. Set up some temporary fencing around an area that will work for a puppy port-a-potty and lead the dog into that area. Ensure they stay in that area until the deed is done. After some time, they will get the idea and go to that area even once you remove the fencing.
Crank up the Lawnmower
Another reason that the dog might have started using the deck could be that the grass has gotten too long. Would you enjoy squatting over a prickly patch? If the grass has gotten too long, it might be uncomfortable, especially if your dog is on the smaller side. Keeping the grass trimmed might help lure them back, and it has the added benefit of making their little treasures easier to find.
Build a Wall
The deck might be a place where the dog spends quite a bit of time. Perhaps they eat and sleep out there. Those are two fine activities for a deck. But, when their other two main activities start happening out there, we have problems. So, until the habit is broken, you might consider making the rest of the deck uninviting by blocking his or her access. Shrink the deck space the dog can use to just enough room to eat and sleep. Once they start using the yard space again for the rest of the time, then the deck can be reopened for business.
Routines and Rewards
With any of these strategies, it will take consistency to be effective. It takes approximately three weeks for a dog to establish a new habit, so if you feel like it will change overnight, then to quote one of the most famous pirates of all time, the Dread Pirate Roberts: “Get used to disappointment.”
We two-legged folks don’t drop bad habits overnight, and neither do our four-legged companions. A structured routine does wonders for dogs. If you can feed them at roughly the same time every day, then take them out for a constitutional shortly after, their mind and body will pick up on the cues and everyone will be happier.
Speaking of being happier, rewards are wonderful for dogs! Like humans, they respond much better to positive reinforcement than they do to shaming. As you are helping them to develop better habits, be ready to shower them with praise and treats. They pooped on the grass, that is amazing! Give them love, a snack, and do a cartwheel to show them just how remarkable you think they are. Just watch out for where you land.
These tips and tricks will hopefully give you a good start on breaking a bad habit. But, if you really do want to build a poop deck on your house, pirate style, our expert Colorado custom deck builders can also help you with that. Good luck, mateys!
*As a side note, an actual poop deck on a sailing ship has nothing to do with poop. It actually comes from the French “la poupe” which means stern, which is where the poop deck is located on a ship. See, we aren’t just here to teach you about decks.