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How to Get a Dog to Poop in the Snow: 8 Expert Tips

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

Dog owners living in areas with cold and snowy winters face a specific set of challenges when caring for their dogs. While many dogs don’t mind a little snow, some dogs may not enjoy it and can even resist going outside. In some cases, dogs can feel so uncomfortable that they won’t poop.

Fortunately, there are some things you can try to get your dog to poop outside in the snow. Just like how humans have to make adjustments to their routine during winter, dogs may also need help establishing a winter routine. Here are some tricks you can try if your dog won’t poop in the snow.

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The 8 Tips for Getting Your Dog to Poop in the Snow

1. Wear Winter Gear

Sometimes, your dog may just feel too cold to be able to concentrate and go poop. It can be helpful to invest in some winter gear for your dog, especially if your dog is small or has a short coat. Some items to consider are a sweater or a jacket and dog booties.

When it comes to dog booties, you can choose a set of rubber ones or more heavy-duty booties with insulation. If your dog just doesn’t like the feeling of wet paws, it can be beneficial to just purchase rubber booties. These are more budget-friendly, and dogs usually have an easier time getting used to wearing them. Thicker booties with insulation are considerable choices if you live in an area with really cold winters. Just keep in mind that it usually takes longer for dogs to get used to wearing them.

Image Credit: ben44, Shutterstock

2. Apply Paw Wax

If you have a dog that’s absolutely resistant to wearing booties, it may be better to try applying paw wax. Paw wax will help protect your dog’s paws from the cold, ice, and salt. This can help your dog feel more comfortable stepping into the snow to go poop.

Paw wax, in general, is often a good winter item for dogs because most paw waxes have moisturizing components. They can prevent your dog’s paw pads from drying out and cracking during the winter.

3. Go Outside When the Temperature Is Warmest

You may have to switch up your winter routine and when you let your dog out to go poop. If your dog usually poops in the morning, you may have to transition to taking them out in the afternoon or early evening when the temperature is warmer. The cool could be very distracting for dogs and make them resistant to poop.

If your dog doesn’t go in the morning, try waiting a few hours until the temperature rises. Just make sure to keep an eye on your dog and watch for any behaviors indicating they’re ready to poop. If your dog is pacing by the door, take them outside to see if they’ll poop. This will prevent your dog from getting into the habit of pooping indoors.

Bernese Mountain Dog in the snow
Image Credit: Andrea Wilkinson, Pixabay

4. Clear a Patch of Grass

Puppies that are in the middle of potty training may have a hard time pooping in the snow. This is because the snow is new to them, and it can confuse them about where they’re supposed to relieve themselves. In these cases, it can be helpful to clear up a patch of grass near your house so that your puppy sees a familiar area to go pee and poop.

Dogs that don’t enjoy stepping in the snow may also prefer having a clear patch of grass for them to poop in. Once your dog relieves themselves in this area a few times, the odors will establish it as a potty area, and your dog will eventually go poop here much more quickly.

5. Use Artificial Grass

If you aren’t able to clear up some snow, it can be helpful to invest in a patch of artificial grass that’s specifically designed to be a dog’s potty station. Artificial grass doesn’t necessarily feel or smell the same as natural grass, so it can take some dogs a little more time to get used to using it as a potty station. You can try using treats and rewards to encourage your dog to poop on artificial grass and get in the habit of using it.

a Pit Bull mix dog relaxing on artificial grass in backyard
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

6. Encourage With Treats

You can treat pooping in snow as an advanced lesson in potty training. Some dogs just may not understand that it’s okay to poop in snow, so they can be more resistant to doing it. If your dog won’t poop in snow, you can try spending a little more time outside and encouraging them to relieve themselves. Once they do, make sure to praise and reward your dog. If your dog is food motivated, it’s okay to give them a small treat every time they poop outside in the snow. Eventually, your dog will understand that snow is an acceptable surface to poop on and will no longer be hesitant about doing it.

7. Go on a Walk

Sometimes, your dog just needs to go on a walk to get warmed up and ready to poop. Regular walks can actually benefit your dog’s digestive system and prevent constipation. Winter weather may discourage dogs from pooping because their walks are usually shortened, and they don’t have as many opportunities to exercise. This can lower their metabolism and make it more difficult for them to poop.

So, make sure that your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Since it’s not safe for dogs to be out in the cold for too long, you may have to resort to going on shorter, more frequent walks during the winter.

dog wearing clothes outside in the snow
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

8. Check for Constipation

If your dog isn’t pooping regularly or is straining to poop, it’s possible that they’re experiencing constipation. You can try some natural home remedies to help soften your dog’s stool. Feeding your dog canned pumpkin puree or wet dog food may help your dog pass food more easily. Fiber supplements and probiotics may also benefit your dog’s digestive and gut health.

Constipation should resolve itself within 48 hours. If your dog won’t poop in the snow after this amount of time has passed, schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can do a physical exam on your dog and provide an effective treatment plan.

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Winter and Snow Safety for Dogs

Whether your dog likes winter or not, it’s important to follow winter safety guidelines to protect your dog’s health and well-being. First, make sure to limit the time you spend outdoors. Your dog’s ability to stay outside will depend on their age and breed. For example, dogs bred to live in colder climates, like Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, typically have an easier and more enjoyable time in the snow. Puppies and older dogs are more susceptible to getting cold and are at higher risk of getting hypothermia from staying out in the cold. In general, dogs shouldn’t be outside for more than an hour during cold winters. If the temperature drops below 32°F, limit their time outdoors to 10 to 15 minutes.

Winter gear, like dog sweaters, jackets, and booties, can help your dog regulate their body heat. It’ll also be helpful to invest in booties or paw wax to protect your dog’s paws from ice, snow, and salt. They can also prevent your dog’s paw pads from drying out and cracking.

If your dog doesn’t enjoy walking in the cold, make sure to find other exercise outlets. If you have a smaller dog, you may be able to get by with playing fetch indoors. Bigger dogs can get some indoor exercise by running up and down a flight of stairs, or some can be trained to walk on a treadmill. Hiding treats throughout the home can encourage your dog to snoop around and do some walking. Engaging in a game of tug-of-war can also expend your dog’s energy. You’ll most likely have to do a combination of different activities to exercise your dog, keep them engaged, and prevent boredom.

dog with snowshoes
Image credit: pasja1000, Pixabay

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There are several reasons why your dog won’t poop in the snow, and you may have to change up their routine and switch up their food to help them poop outside in the cold. Sometimes, it’ll just take a little more time and patience, and waiting a little longer outside can help your dog poop. Just keep an eye out for cases of constipation. If your dog doesn’t have a bowel movement within 48 hours, make sure to take them to your veterinarian for further assistance.

Featured Image Credit: Jurgis Mankauskas, Shutterstock

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