Housetraining in Horrible Weather: A Tip to Help Your Dog Go Outside in the Snow

Little Ruby models her super-deluxe winter potty area.

Snow, ice and slush are not the most helpful ground covers if you’ve got a puppy to house train, or a diva dog who recoils at the thought of her tiny feet getting cold and wet. I can understand our dogs being too distracted to do their business, on our schedule, especially in extreme weather. But what to do?

One solution is to teach your pooch to go potty on cue. That helps when you want to take them out, get it over with, and return to the cozy indoors. (See Chapter 9 in Puppy Savvy for easy instructions on how to do this. Through 1/25 it’s 15% off with code JANSAVE15 at checkout.)

If you don’t have cardboard handy, a tarp or large trash bag will work.

A simple trick that you can start using today is to keep a preferred potty area dry by covering it with a sheet of cardboard before the frozen stuff accumulates. When it’s time to go out, just lift the cardboard and offer your dog a familiar, inviting spot to go. Clean up afterwards so your dog will continue to want to eliminate there.

Puppies form strong substrate preferences (surfaces that they seek out to pee or poop on) by about 9 weeks of age, so be sure to give your pup opportunities to eliminate in snowier areas, too. This is particularly important if you live in a climate where snow is a sure thing each winter.

Stay warm, and happy housetraining!

2 thoughts on “Housetraining in Horrible Weather: A Tip to Help Your Dog Go Outside in the Snow

  1. I’m a new reader to your blog and what a great idea this is!

    Just ran outside with a piece of cardboard to try this myself. My little Papillon boy, Remy, doesn’t mind rain or snow. But today is his first experience with sleet which he definitely does mind. And here in North Carolina we’re getting slammed with our third round of sleet and freezing rain right now.

    Because Remy’s agility jumps were frozen solid on the lawn this morning I adapted your cardboard idea a little bit. I put my box of empty plastic bags (for poop pickup) underneath the front of my piece of cardboard. This way the front of the cardboard is tilted up so I can remove it for Remy’s potty break. That’s the plan, anyway. I weighed the back of the cardboard down with a baby wipes container on top because it’s also very windy here this afternoon.

    Now I’m curious to see how well this will work for Remy’s next call of nature.

  2. Oh, that’s a great idea, Anu! In fact, that’s a helpful adaptation for anyone dealing with more than an inch of snow, too, because it would weigh down the cardboard and make it hard to lift or push away. Thanks for sharing your solution. Ideally it will all melt soon so that Remy will be back to agility. Lucky boy!

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