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When you first brought your new puppy home, you might have had visions of playing in the snow, splashing in puddles when it rains, or enjoying other fun winter weather activities together. But what happens when your pup doesn’t like the snow, rain, or cold? As a pet parent, you may have to change your visions for winter family fun to indoor activities, but you can’t keep your pup from ever having to brave the elements. We put together our best tips to keep your pup comfortable.
Unlike rain and snow, cold weather can hang around consistently for months. This means you’ll want to help your pup find appropriate ways to exercise and blow off steam indoors. Try to plan your longest walks for around lunchtime, or whenever the warmest sunniest time of the day is.
Like our point above, having something to look forward to that takes place indoors can help your pup enjoy the winter more. Taking a group class and getting to socialize a bit inside can help. Note that this might not be an option where you live this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Consider a cute and functional sweater or jacket when heading out in the cold weather. Dogs who might need a little help from a warm jacket include smaller breeds and those who are leaner with shorter coats. Also, dogs who are older or have medical conditions that make it hard for them to regulate their body temperature might need an extra layer in the cold. Make sure to find a jacket that fits your pup and is comfortable for them. If wearing a coat is new for your dog, it might take some getting used to.
If your pup goes out and does their business in the cold weather reward them with a tasty treat, lots of praise and maybe a warm blanket when you get home. The point here is to build positive associations with the cold. And if you can’t do that, at least you’re building positive associations for what happens after you go out into the cold.
If your pup is getting older, cold weather can increase joint pain and arthritis symptoms. If that is what is going on, it’s no wonder your dog is not excited about heading out during the winter. Your vet may be able to give you some pain management tips or medication if indicated to help your pup feel better in the cold weather.
Trying to keep your pup out of the pouring rain might take some strategy on your part. If your pup has a spot where they like to do their business try taking them right to that spot, don’t let them spend too much time sniffing or trying to make a break for the house. Another thing that can help keeps walks very brief in a downpour is if your pup has a command for doing their business. This would obviously need to be trained prior to a storm, but if you’re doing this, a downpour is an ideal use for going on command. If your pup is out somewhere with you when it starts raining, try to seek shelter as quickly as possible. It is best to always check the weather before heading out with your pup for the day as you’ll want to have an emergency plan for a pop up rain shower or thunderstorm.
If your pup is going on a pee strike and truly refuses to go outside in a downpour, try to find a break in the storm. While you might not be able to wait until it stops completely, waiting for a heavy downpour to become a light drizzle might be possible. Keep an eye and ear out for things to slow down, and then make your move!
If your pup can’t wait or your have to go somewhere and it is raining, try to protect them from the elements. You can use an umbrella or a raincoat if your pup will wear one. If wet paws is the issue, consider trying on some waterproof booties to keep your pup’s feet warm and dry. We recommend having your pup wear these around the house a few times to get used to wearing them. Otherwise, you’re risking stressing your pup out more than he or she already is from having to go out in the rain.
For a special treat, try warming a towel in the dryer for your pup. Make sure the towel isn’t too hot for your dog before using it to dry them off.
If you have a backyard or other spot that is big enough – grab a tarp and some large boulders or anything that will keep the tarp in place. Get this set up before it starts snowing. Once the snow is done, shovel off and remove the tarp. Your pup will now have a snow free spot to do their business or play outside in!
Like rain, you’ll want to keep your walks short and sweet. If your dog has short legs or the snow is deep, it can be harder for your dog to travel through the snow. This means your pup might get tired faster. Even though it is quite cold out, make sure to also offer your pup a drink after a walk in the snow. The extra exercise can lead to dehydration, even in the winter!
One of the reasons your pup might hate snow actually has nothing to do with the white stuff itself. Rock salt used to keep the sidewalk and roads from freezing can hurt pups sensitive paw pads or make them feel sick if they lick at their feet with the salt on them. When bringing your pup in from a walk in the snow, it is important to clean their feet and check in between their paw pads for uncomfortable chunks of ice, snow and salt.
While your dog may never voluntarily splash in a puddle or join you in building a snowman, we hope these tips help your pup feel more comfortable and confident in the cold, wet weather.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.
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