Every dog parent has stood in rain or snow boots at least once while waiting for their pet to go potty. You open the door to take your pet outside, your pup takes one look at the rain, sleet or snow, and they refuse to budge.
Frustrating, yes. But dogs, like people, are creatures of comfort—and routine. Learn how to get past this and how to get your dog to poop outside.
How to Get Your Dog to Poop Outside in the Rain or Snow
Dogs prefer to go potty in places that are safe, comfortable and smell of past eliminations because this increases their need and desire to “do their duty,” says Mikkel Becker, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, CDBC, a behavior counselor at Homeward Pet Adoption Center in Woodinville, Wash., and a trainer at Doggy Haven Resort in Bothell, Wash. “And when it’s raining or snowing,” she says, “this may happen to be the carpet rather than the grass.”
Of course, you don’t want a mess on your carpet or floors, so you need some tricks on how to get your dog to poop outside. So before stormy weather strikes, try one or all of these strategies.
Train Your Dog to Poop Outside
The best way to get your dog to poop outside in inclement weather is to train your pet beforehand. Decide on a cue—it can be a phrase like “be quick,” or a word, like “potty” or “poop.” Then pair the cue with a reward, like tasty dog treats.
Your dog will learn to associate your cue and the reward with the physical relief of going to the bathroom, Bekker says.
You don’t even have to use food, though many dogs are food-motivated. You can reward your pooch with a play session, a special just-for-pooping-outside toy or a longer-than-usual walk.
It also helps to stick to a routine, which dogs, no matter their age, prefer. Get your pet used to going outside after eating, playing or napping. Or let your dog out after a couple of hours at a time. If you reward your pup after a bathroom break, your pet is more likely to go no matter what.
Dress Your Dog for the Weather
If your pooch is uncomfortable, cold and wet, he’s not going to be focused on anything but getting back to a safe, warm space, Bekker says.
“But when dogs are kept comfortable, their other instincts, including their desire to go to the bathroom, is more likely to be at the top of their mind,” she says.
Dress your pet in appropriate snow or rain gear—especially if he’s very young, old or has short fur. That means for winter conditions your pup needs a dog coat and dog booties to help keep him warm and protect his paws. For a coat that pairs form and fashion, Frisco’s reversible puffer coat features a plaid pattern on one side and a solid-print fleece on the other.
If your dog doesn’t like getting wet, you can hold an umbrella over him as he does his business. That will keep him dry long enough to focus on the task at hand.
Or try a dog raincoat. Frisco’s Rubber Ducky raincoat sports an adorable pattern of yellow duckies to help keep your pup looking flashy—and dry!
Make Your Backyard More Enticing for Potty-Going
Creating a covered area in your yard might keep things dry enough to get your dog to poop out there no matter the weather.
Remember, too, that dogs like to go in places where they’ve gone before; the scent of past poops or pees cues them up to go potty again. So if his favorite spot is buried in the snow, take a shovel and create a grassy pathway to it.
“That’s likely to uncover some of the buried smells that help to encourage elimination,” Bekker explains.
Create an Indoor Potty Area
Really bad weather—blizzards, hail storms or severe thunderstorms—can derail plans for bathroom walks. After all, you don’t want your pooch struck by lightning or encountering a downed power line.
In these circumstances, you must come up with an indoor alternative. By keeping some Frisco giant potty pads on hand, you can provide an easy-to-clean alternative out of the bad weather.
Because your pup may not understand the difference between using dog potty pads indoors and doing his business elsewhere around the house, Bekker suggests putting the pads on the porch or in spaces where your dog doesn’t normally hang out, like the mudroom or a bathroom (where the tiled floor is easier to clean up in case of accidents).
Go on a Poop-and-Pee Walk
Some dogs prefer company if they’re going to go out in the rain or snow, so even if you have a back yard, you may to leash up your pup and head out together. (Remember, walking is good exercise for you and your pet!)
Some dogs go potty quickly—especially after a reward—just so they can go back inside faster. Others take their sweet time since they enjoy their walks—rain, snow or shine.
If that’s the case, repeat your cue word and keep the treats handy. It may take some time, but eventually your dog will get the hang of how to poop outside in the rain or snow.