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. There are several strategies that can help teach your pup to do his business outside when it’s cold. 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 go in the snow 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 circle and squat when needed. 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 a sweater or light coat 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. You should also bundle up and go outside with your dog – don’t just send him outside to do his business. Going out with him will also help you determine whether your dog needs extra protection from the cold.
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 little play session in the fluffy white stuff — or if your dog is more of an indoor person, you can head back inside right away, where it’s warm and cozy.
Keep Accidents to a Minimum
If being cooped up indoors is causing your dog to go inside instead, 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 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
It can be frustrating when a dog goes potty indoors, but punishing 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 and start hiding to do his business. Instead, when he has an accident, gently interrupt him with an “oops” and take him outside to his normal bathroom spot as a reminder.
And most of all be patient – keep in mind that you probably wouldn’t want to poop in the snow either and do what you can to make your pup more comfortable “going” outside. He will be grateful for your understanding and may even learn to “hurry up” just to get back inside!