Puppy Training in Winter
When I decided to welcome a new addition to our family I wasn’t quite prepared for how difficult puppy training in winter can be.
Other puppies I have housetrained through the years have arrived in spring and summer, when the weather is milder, drier and much warmer. It is so much easier to get the puppy to toilet outside when the door to a secure garden is left open.
We spend much more time outside in the warmer months but there are still things that you can do so that your puppy’s training is not held back by cold temperatures.
How To Get Your Puppy Used To Outside Spaces In Winter
I like to get the puppy used to the big outside world by spending time with him or her in the garden before he starts to go on daily walks. Outside is such a jolt to the puppy’s senses…different smells, noisy traffic, weather conditions, and open space can be extremely daunting to a young dog.
The puppy should always be completely supervised and all fences checked over to make sure that there are no small gaps that a puppy can squeeze through.
If there has been a particularly stormy night always do a quick fence check before you let your puppy outdoors.
A tiny pup will investigate everything so make sure that there are no poisonous plants, weed killer, bits of glass or wood, etc in the vicinity.
Introduce A Little Training
It’s never too early to start a little training, especially recall which will also help the puppy recognise his name.
Take a ball outside and make the pup’s first experience of open spaces fun.
If the puppy urinates or empties his bowels when he is in the garden praise him enthusiastically and offer a treat, he needs to know that this is exactly what you want him to do!
Keep Garden Visits Short When Temperatures Are Low
In winter the garden trips should be much shorter if the weather conditions are harsh.
If there is snow and ice on the ground just a few minutes is advised, especially if the puppy is shivering or uncomfortable.
Keep a small area cleared of snow and ice so that the pup can go outside.
Dog paws are sensitive to extremely cold conditions and can become sore, so keep outside visits short.
Here is how to protect dog paws in winter:-
Choose A Toilet Command
Choose a word or cue to use when you want your puppy to urinate outside. I say ‘be quick’ which has always worked. Say the cue as soon as you see signs that your puppy needs to toilet imminently. Keep a coat close to the door to grab on your way out.
Always return the dog to the same area of the garden and say your chosen command. The smells will be familiar to him and he will be reminded that this is his restroom.
If you have an older dog let the younger one outside at the same time. The puppy will watch and learn quickly by following the actions of an adult dog.
Extreme Weather Can Be Scary For A Young Puppy
Extreme weather can be really scary for a young dog so keep the dog inside during storms, heavy winds, and rain. A strong gust of wind can easily knock a young dog off his feet.
A puppy can’t regulate his body temperature and will shiver and shake if he gets too cold.
If the puppy really hates the cold and resists going outside there are alternatives to use like a litter tray or fake grass. These should only be used on a short term basis until the weather improves.
If the puppy gets wet make sure he is dried thoroughly when you return to the house. A coat or jumper will keep the pup warm and dry. There are coats available which still enable a harness and collar to be worn.
Getting The Puppy Used To Wearing A Collar And Walking On The Lead.
Although the puppy will be spending most of the time inside in the winter months it is a good idea to get him used to wearing a collar for short periods.
Also, another way to do puppy training in winter is to start lead training in the house. This will make it much easier when the weather improves and regular walking commences.
Puppy Training Pads
I have found training pads really useful when training a puppy in winter. They can be placed close to the door and even moved outside if the weather permits. Again, praise the puppy and offer a treat when he uses the pad so that he knows what a clever boy he is!
Puppy pads are a great training aid as long as they are only used in the short term.
Accidents will happen, a puppy cannot hold his bladder for long periods so he needs to be taken to the pad (or outside) every couple of hours.
Never reprimand or punish a puppy if an accident happens. Simply ignore and clean the carpet straight away using biological washing powder. This removes the enzymes in the urine and the dog won’t be tempted to return to that area again.
Here are great articles which show how you can keep your house clean and hygienic when you are housetraining:-
There are lots more house training tips here:-
Always take the puppy to the pad as soon as he wakes up, after playtime and fifteen minutes after food. These are the times when the puppy is most likely to need to urinate and defecate so be extra vigilant at these times.
If you see the puppy frantically sniffing and circling this means that he needs to empty his bladder or bowels. Try to pick him up or coax him towards the puppy pad or door before he begins to wee or poo.
When you take your young dog for a walk in winter be prepared to bring home a very muddy puppy! The only way to avoid this is by putting on a coat that covers most of the dog’s fur. Even then, be prepared for muddy paws which just can’t be avoided. Keep a towel to hand in the car and beside the front door so that you can rub off some of the mud.
Without a raincoat or padded jacket, the puppy might need to be bathed especially if the dog has a long coat. It’s good to get the dog used to being bathed at an early age but remember that too much bathing is not good for the dog’s coat.
Also, invest in a good quality puppy shampoo that doesn’t irritate the dog’s eyes.
Have plenty of warm, fluffy towels to hand to dry the puppy as quickly as possible.
Keep bath times quick and use a hairdryer to dry the fur and keep your puppy warm.
For more bathing tips:-
Here is my puppy Ripley taking his first tentative steps in the outside world and ‘thinking’ about using the puppy pad.
I hope these tips help with puppy training in winter.
Thank you for reading.