My Dog Hates The Cold! Here’s What To Do…
December 08, 2022 | 3 min read
Updated December 08, 2022
By Sarah Milton
Published: December 8, 2021
Updated: May 12, 2023
Summary: “My dog hates the cold!” You’re not alone... In this blog, we learn what to do if your dog won’t pee in rain, poop in the snow, or go out full stop in any severe weather…
Every person in the world is unique and different, with varying tastes and preferences. The same goes for our dogs! Some love crunching their paws through snow and fallen, crisp leaves, splashing in puddles, and roaming over frosty terrain. Other pups love nothing more than a stroll in the sand and sunbathing in the yard.
If your pup is reluctant to venture outside when the mercury drops or rain pours from the sky, fall and winter can be tricky seasons to navigate. What can you do to make sure your pet is getting the enrichment, bathroom breaks, and exercise their bodies and minds require, despite it being too chilly to coax them out..?
What To Do If Your Dog Hates The Cold
First things first; if you have a senior dog and they’ve recently developed an aversion to the cold, this could indicate an issue with their joints. Cold weather can increase and aggravate conditions like canine osteoarthritis and other joint conditions so have a chat with your vet if this is the case; they may be able to help with any pain management that might be required.
Secondly, never punish a dog for refusing to go outside when it’s cold. Use encouragement, praise, and treats to coax them out and reward them when they do. This way you’ll help build positive associations with going out in the cold for them.
Try and take your dog out for shorter walks during the warmest part of the day (usually around midday), and get creative with indoor exercise so they can blow off steam and burn some energy without catching the chill. A good game of Fetch or mentally stimulating toys (like those that conceal treats, and your dog has to work out how to get them out) can be great for those super icy days when the air is biting. You could also consider indoor socializing or obedience classes that are local to you. These can also be useful options to ensure you’re exercising and stimulating your dog despite the cold.
Make sure you encourage your dog to wear a jumper or a coat when out on a cold walk if they’re really reluctant to go. This will help them keep warm. Make sure what you’re dressing them in fits, is comfortable and they don’t seem distressed whilst wearing it – remember, use encouraging, praising vocal cues and tones!
What To Do If Your Dog Hates The Snow
If snow is due, try covering a patch of your yard temporarily with tarp so there’s a spot for them to go to the bathroom that is unaffected once the snow stops.
Walks should be kept shorter when it’s snowing, and preferably taken in areas where snow has been cleared. Indoor enrichment activities should increase whilst appropriate outdoor exercise time is limited. Older dogs may find it harder to move through snow, as will shorter-legged breeds.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Snow is harder to get through when you have little legs. If you own a small breed, be mindful that they will tire quicker in snow and are at risk of dehydrating if they don’t have access to water on their return home. A dog should always be able to get to fresh water at all times, every day. Encourage them to take a drink post-exercising in snow.
You should be mindful of salted sidewalks too. Salt is used to stop these access routes from freezing over but the salt can get stuck in our pet’s paws and cause them discomfort or can make them irritated if they lick their paws afterward. Clean their feet thoroughly if they’ve been in contact with sidewalk salt, paying particular attention to in-between their pads.
What Weather Is Too Cold For Dogs?
According to academics from Tufts University, in Massachusetts, any temperatures between 30°F and 39°F can be 'potentially unsafe' for small and medium dogs, depending on their breed and coat length. For larger dogs, the potentially unsafe cut-off is between 21°F and 33°F. You should exercise your dog with caution when this is the temperature range.
Temperatures become ‘potentially life-threatening’ anywhere below 25°F for small dogs, anywhere below 25°F - 16°F for medium dogs and below 16°F large breeds, again dependent on breed and coat length. You should only let your dog out for brief bathroom breaks when this is the temperature range.
What To Do If Your Dog Hates The Rain
If your dog hates the rain, they hate the rain and you need to make peace with the fact first. Then, you need to recognize that managing your pooch around the weather is going to take some strategizing on your part, pet parent. Keep an eye on the outside weather via the window or a reliable weather app so you can identify gaps in the day where the rain may ease off into a drizzle so you can let Fido out for a bathroom break or quick stroll around the block.
If they have a particular patch in the yard they like to go, consider covering it over so rain can’t reach that section and your dog can “make” in comfort. Or, you could attempt implementing an ethical, kind training regime to get your pup to pee/poop on demand. This is hard but possible with patience and kindness and the right style of positive-reinforcement training.
Encourage your dog with praise and treats to wear a well-fitted, doggy raincoat, or waterproof booties if they hate the rain on their paws the most, before venturing outside. Don’t force them to wear something that distresses them in any way though – this is cruel.
Have warm towels ready for when you get back home so you can treat them with warmth and a rub down as soon as they make it back to the house. Make a fuss on your return so you can build up going out in the rain as a positive, rewarding experience for them too.
Author Taffer, Marissa “What To Do If Your Dog Hates The Cold, Rain Or Snow” Dog-Eared, Powered By Ollie, Dec. 21 2020 https://blog.myollie.com/dog-hates-cold-weather/
Author Standley, Nathan “How Cold Is Too Cold For Your Dog To Be Outside” Derby Telegraph, Feb. 03 2019 https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/burton/cold-snow-dog-outside-2492113
Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!