The cold winter weather is upon us. Many Rhode Island pet owners dread this time of year. While its always hard to brace ourselves for the cold, snow, and other weather conditions, it can be even harder for our furry friends! One of the most common issues owners have is:
“My dog will not go to the bathroom outside”
Many pet owners have this issue with their dogs in the winter. And honestly can you blame the dogs? Its cold outside and especially so first thing in the morning and late at night. But, if the dog is allowed to use your home as their place to potty, bad habits are being created that may not be able to be broken. So what do you do? Well there are a few things you can try!
First, take a look at your dog. Does he or she have a short coat? Or perhaps they are a smaller dog? Smaller dogs or shorter haired breeds are more apt to have a harder time in the winter because they don’t have as much fur or body weight keeping them warm as other breeds do. You may want to invest in a warm coat, or fleece, for your pet.. If your pet doesn’t like putting on clothing a horse blanket coat could be a good option for you as its design makes it more comfortable for dogs that don’t like or aren’t used to the sleeves of a traditional coat.
Keep to a schedule with your pet. Dogs do best with structure and routine. So if you take your pet outside right around the same times each day, it will be easier to keep them from having accidents in the house.
Next, you need to lead by example. What does that mean? If your dog has to go outside, so do you. Dogs have a pack mentality and if you are standing in the porch all warm and toasty while your pooch is freezing his tail off chances are you aren’t going to get him to go to the bathroom. Bundle up and be prepared to spend some time out there! It may take longer for your dog to sniff out a spot that they like than usual.
Make sure your dog has its own area to go to the bathroom in and a clear path to get there. Be sure to guide the dog along the path and show them their spot. If the dog doesn’t like the spot and finds another one that works for them, that’s fine! Once “their spot” is identified, They are likely to use that spot again so be sure to take them there first next time you go outside.
One of the most important things you can do for your pet is reward them when and if they do go to the bathroom outside. This way they associate the behavior of going to the bathroom outside with positive reinforcement. The reward can be a treat, or a favorite toy; anything that they would consider special. If you are already using a reward and its no longer working, before switching techniques considering replacing whatever you have been using as a reward with something new and more special. There are many ways to do this like going from hard to soft treats, or giving them some extra special cookies instead of their regular treats.
These tips along with a lot of love and patience will help you and your dog get through the winter months accident free!