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Should You Take Your Puppy Outside in Bad Weather?


Taking your puppy outside to go potty in bad weather is essential to help build the puppy's confidence. Many people think if it's too hot or too cold if there's rain, or if there's snow, that they need to keep the puppy inside, and I disagree with that philosophy.

Ever since Dixie was a very young puppy and we lived in south Florida, Dixie went through two tropical storms and one time when there was about six weeks of ongoing rain. She loved it. She thought it was the best thing on earth because every time we came in, she got pampered. She got blow-dried and towel-dried and spritzed with a lovely scent, and she just thought it was the greatest thing ever. So I immediately trained her to go outside when there's bad weather. 

The usual thing that most new puppy owners do, which is a big mistake, is keeping their puppies inside when there's bad weather, and they convert to pee pads. Read this article on why you shouldn't use pee pads. Today, it will be up to six inches of snow, and I will make Dixie go outside with a sweater on. She's going to go potty, and she'll love every minute of it because I love every minute of it. 

When the puppy owner is worried, fearful, or anxious about a situation, the puppy is most likely going to feel that way as well. However, if you, as the puppy's owner, are confident and assured that this will be a great situation, you can help build confidence in your puppy. 

If you have a very small puppy who can't go outside and there are several inches of snow, you will have to get a shovel or find a way to remove the snow from the grass so they can go potty in that little section. All you have to do is go outside for a few minutes, clear the snow away, carry them out there, place them in the grass outside in your yard, and have them go potty; they will most likely do so very quickly because they don't want to be outside very long.

Some breeds, like Bernie's Mountain Dog, Golden Retrievers, Akitas, and the Great Pyrenees, love going out in the snow. They're going to love just laying in it and soaking it in. 

However, when it's extremely cold outside, and you have a small dog, you've got other challenges. I put a sweater on Dixie. I warm her up thoroughly before a heater, and then I bring her outside. Here in Huntsville, Alabama, it will be zero or below zero degrees without windchill. That means the windchill could be -10 degrees or even lower than that. Dixie has to go potty outside at 7:00 AM; I refuse to have Dixie go potty inside the house.

Dogs will adapt your energy, your emotions, your thoughts, your personality, and whatever you feel about a situation. This is very important to build that confidence in the puppy because you're going to need to desensitize them to a lot of things along the journey through adulthood and beyond. They need to be desensitized not only to the weather but to all different types of sights, sounds, and stimuli, including other dogs and people. This is what happens when there's a reactive dog. They have a negative association with stimuli such as another dog, people, kids, or moving objects, and they start to bark and lunge and growl at them because they were under-socialized at an early age and were not desensitized to all of the different stimuli properly when they were very young.

The critical period to get your puppy socialized is typically from four to 16 weeks old. However, you can continue building their confidence, building their self-esteem, and desensitizing them to all sorts of things into adulthood.  The way we do this is by adding the stimuli that she's not comfortable with in a low intensity, and then we work them through with it.

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