You may be excited to bundle up and enjoy a snow day, but
some dogs aren’t so thrilled about going outside in that kind of weather — much
less going to the bathroom in it. After all, would you do your business in less
than ideal conditions if you didn’t have to? Thankfully, you don’t have to
spend the whole winter cleaning up accidents: I have several strategies that can help
teach your pup to do his business outside when it’s cold — but you may need
to try a combination of two or three of these methods to
solve the problem.
Create an Ideal Potty Area
Snow can make your dog’s outdoor bathroom options less
than ideal. He may not want to walk in it or his regular potty spot might be
buried. You can help him out by shoveling a space where he usually does his
business that’s as close to the ground as possible and large enough for him to
sniff around. If you’re unable to shovel, invest in some potty grass and place
it near his regular potty area.
Humans aren’t the only ones who should dress for the cold —
some dogs may need to wear sweaters and coats in frigid weather. For instance,
if your pup is small or has short legs, he may be more willing to go out in the
snow — and go to the bathroom — if he’s appropriately bundled up.
Make Pottying Outdoors Fun
Take your dog outside frequently so he has plenty of
opportunities to go to the bathroom. And when he does eliminate in the proper
area, praise him and reward him with his favorite treats or a special toy. If
he’s up for it, you may even want to have a play session — or you can head
back inside, where it's warm and cozy.
Create a Space Where He Can Do His Business Indoors
Blizzards, ice storms and other nasty weather conditions can
make it too dangerous to go outside, so it may be easier to train your dog to
go potty indoors on a mat or grass-covered pet area or in a litterbox. Just keep in mind
that training a pet to go to the bathroom indoors can make the transition to going potty
outside more difficult.
Keep Accidents to a Minimum
If being cooped up indoors is causing your dog to have accidents inside, try to keep him in a
contained area. Don't let him go into areas where he’s had accidents before
and make sure you clean up his mess with an enzymatic cleaner, which should
help get rid of any scents that will make him think it’s OK to go to the
bathroom there again. Once your dog is willing to do his business outside
again, you can let him roam freely in your home once more.
Don’t Punish Him
I know it can be frustrating when a dog goes potty indoors,
but punishing or scolding him won’t prevent this behavior — it will only make it
worse. When you punish a dog for having an accident, it teaches him that it’s
not safe to go potty around you and he’ll quickly lose his trust in you. Instead,
when he has an accident, gently interrupt him with an “oops” and take him
outside to his normal bathroom spot as a reminder.
Vetstreet.com delivers advice from veterinarians, trainers and pet experts who are dedicated to giving you the most trusted, authoritative information for keeping pets healthy and happy. Our Find A Vet service connects you with leading veterinarians in your area. Launched in 2011, Vetstreet.com features veterinarian-reviewed medical advice and has quickly become one of the top animal health and lifestyle sites on the web. See more.