When your dog won’t ‘go’ outside in winter

In the depths of the cold of winter, dogs look at cats and say, “How come you get to poop inside?”

Walking that fine line between holding it to go out into the frigid cold and having an “accident” in the house, some dogs tend to favour the latter. Giving them options indoors rather than having to punish them is not that difficult.

The easiest solution is proper kennel training. Choosing a properly sized kennel and placing it in the appropriate space can make kennelling an easy and efficient solution for many issues. If the kennel is the right size, most dogs will not poop where they sleep. If the kennel is too large, they have the option of using one end as a bathroom and still being able to sleep in the other.

A kennel should be just big enough for the pet to walk into standing up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. It should be an enclosed space and should be kept in a darkened room or covered with a blanket or kennel cover that the dog cannot drag into the kennel and chew. They don’t need any more room than that, as it is meant to be a place to sleep. Dogs can sleep 20 hours a day, so it’s not an issue to let them sleep while you are away.

No food, no water, and no activity toys should be given to dogs in a kennel. Maybe a comforting stuffy but not something that induces activity. Once anyone gets home, the dog must be immediately let out and taken directly outside.

Kenneling also makes it easier to travel, as you have a portable “safe space” you can leave your dog in when you are out enjoying yourself.

For tiny “purse dogs”, indoor potties might be a year-round option. There have been many “doggy potty” products, from simple pee-pad holders through elaborate systems with removeable fake grass and draining tray, and walls that prevent male dogs from missing the target. For these owners, winter or summer, there is no difference.

The rest of us may have to make arrangements for dogs who refuse to go outside, either because they don’t want to or because they can’t handle the cold on their paws for even the limited time they need to be outside to do their business.

The simplest solution is a pee pad. These are like a disposable diaper, but big and flat. They come in various sizes, and some have available trays/frames in which they can be secured, while others have tape on the back to hold them in place. These usually have an odour attractant that induces the pet to use them, which is why, if they have an accident elsewhere, they will return to that spot unless you use an enzyme-based cleaner to neutralize the odour.

Our pets don’t want to let us down and have an accident in the house. It’s up to us to give them the tools to “be a good dog.”

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