We deal with snow every winter at Kitchen Dog’s Michigan headquarters. Newly fallen snow can be beautiful to look at, but it can present problems for our dogs if they need to squat in it. If you’ve ever had to sit on a freezing cold toilet seat you know why!
Snow Can Pose a Potty Problem
Some dogs have elimination issues when the weather turns cold and snowy, for reasons including:
- It’s not familiar, dogs like routine and their favorite elimination spot is hidden from view
- They don’t realize it’s OK to eliminate in the snow if it’s the first time they’ve seen it
- The cold is distracting them from other body signals
If Your Dog Refuses to Go Outside in the Snow
Dogs that won’t potty outside in the snow are a problem! If they hold it too long, constipation and bladder infections can result. Dogs will eliminate indoors when they feel there is no other option. Dogs appreciate a clear path to follow when they need to potty in snowy weather.
Digging a Path to Poop
Kitchen Dog recommends you think of your dog’s comfort and cleanliness when they venture out in the snow. When you have accumulated snowfall, make sure they have a clear path to a potty area. Some reasons digging paths is a good idea:
- Dogs are more likely to eliminate outdoors when they can move freely to stimulate their bowels
- Avoid chilling vital organs by avoiding direct contact with the snow
- Less snow tracked into the house
- Poop is easier to find when you know where to look!
Where and How to Dig a Path
Start on the steps or landing so the dog can step out onto a familiar surface. Then clear a path that ends with a larger cleared area so your dog has room to circle around to stimulate their bowels. Dig deep enough that your dog can squat without sticking their sensitive areas into the snow. Remove enough snow to uncover some grass so the dog sees the potty surface they are familiar with.
Make Winter Clean Up Easier
Don’t forget to also dig a path so you can access your cleanup equipment. Having a path dug makes it easy to find and remove waste. Please don’t wait until spring! Poop doesn’t melt in the snow, it will just leach into the groundwater, so remove it now.
Combat Cabin fever
You can go a step farther and build a snow maze, especially if you have a large, busy, or agile dog that enjoys racing around in cold weather. Clear a path that circles part of the yard, including favorite spots to sniff, run, or visit the neighbors. Dogs who have a chance to run and explore outside will have less energy for mischief inside. Pay attention to the temperature and your dog’s comfort so they don’t stay out too long. If they are picking up their feet with ice trapped between the pads or getting leg cramps, bring them in to warm up.
Your Dog’s Comfort is Important!
by Cleo Parker
Cleo has been working with dogs since she was a teenager and has spent her professional career working in marketing insights and analytics. She blogs about marketing for dog events, products, and services at the Dog Marketing Blog.