When you first bring your new puppy home, there may be many factors to consider including potty training. No matter which season you may choose to potty train your puppy it can be a challenge. Fortunately, we sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about how to potty train a puppy in winter and other hazards to be mindful of when you take your furry friend outside.
How to help potty train a puppy in winter
Puppies are curious and may want to explore when they’re outdoors. Wilde recommends these tips when teaching your puppy how to potty train during the winter season.
If it’s safe for your puppy to go outside, your puppy should still be taken out as often as possible while they’re learning. Also, doggie coats and booties can help protect your pup from the elements.
Try to have a basic pattern to take outside. For example, like first thing in the morning, before bed, after every meal, and after vigorous play.
When you take your puppy outside, try to stay outside until your puppy goes to the bathroom, and then reward your puppy when it goes, with either treats or praise.
Never leave your puppy unsupervised while it is being potty trained. Some trainers advise tethering the puppy to you so that it doesn’t wander off and have an “accident” or crate training. Your veterinarian can advise as to the pros and cons of each method.
Watch your puppy carefully for any cues it might need to go to the bathroom, like wandering off or sniffing certain spots. Also, when you see those behaviors, take them outside right away, so they can be rewarded for the desired behavior.
It’s important in training any behavior to use positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement. This may include always rewarding your puppy for the desired behavior and don’t punish it for unwanted behavior.
Be patient. Potty training takes time and consistency.
It may be helpful to establish schedules to help your new furry friend ease into the routine. Also, it may take time for your new best friend to become accustomed to their new space, home, and potty ritual!
Naturally, it’s a new experience for your entire family, so give everyone the proper time to become adjusted to schedule changes and shared responsibilities.
Further, it may also be helpful to go back to the same place every time you go outdoors, so your best friend can become familiar with the scents and sights around them. For more on winter dog walking tips, click here.
The benefits of potty-training a puppy
Whether you’re a new or established pet owner, no pet owner wants to clean up messes after your furry friend. Although accidents may happen after you potty train your puppy, chances are it can still be helpful to train your pet from the beginning.
Further, “Starting right away and being consistent can help facilitate the training process, and can be a bonding experience for the owner and their new puppy,” says Wilde.
Training is a great way to help establish the human-pet bond and develop positive behavior cues in your furry friend.
Winter pet hazards
Every season has different hazards you may need to be mindful of when you have furry friends. Wilde points out some seasonal hazards to consider before heading outdoors with your best friend.
Remember that it takes time for puppies to develop the protective callous on their paw pads. Consider putting booties or shoes on their paws to help keep their paws protected.
The salt on sidewalks can be toxic if ingested and can cause irritation to the paw pads. You may want to wipe paws after a walk and be mindful of where your furry friend steps outdoors.
Be mindful of winter pet hazards like puddles, snow, and ice.
Different dog breeds have varying levels of cold tolerance. Consult your veterinarian for their advice as to whether it is safe for your puppy to be outside.
Every puppy is different and may react differently to winter weather. Be mindful of how long you’re outdoors and consider taking short trips outside. Also, pet attire like a sweater, jacket, and booties can help keep your furry friend happy and warm.
Potty training a puppy in any season may be a challenge
It may take time for your puppy to adapt to the weather as well as the new routine or schedule. Some puppies take right away to potty training, while others may need more time to adjust. But with a little patience, love, and help from your veterinarian, your best friend may be trained in no time at all!
is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided, among many others.