Housebreaking a dog is challenging any time of the year. And the cold weather adds an extra challenge. However, with a little information, advanced preparation, and the right mindset you can housebreak your pet any time of the year, even on the coldest days of winter.
Tip #1 Prepare the Location
One of the problems dogs have during the winter time is that they cannot smell as well. They cannot smell the dirt, other animals, and their waste. The cold air diminishes the scent. This makes it difficult for them to find the right spot.
A trained dog will spend minutes looking for a spot in the snow only to get too cold and have to go inside before they’ve done their business. The trick is to prepare a place in your yard for them to go. Shovel a patch of lawn clean so that your dog can find a nice patch of grass to go on. Additionally, having an established area in your yard will help reduce your clean-up process.
Tip #2 Know the Routine
Dogs need to use the bathroom as soon as they wake up, just like humans. They also need to use the bathroom after they play and exercise and a few minutes after they eat. Instead of waiting for your dog to tell you when they need to go out, take them outside on a schedule. Anticipate their needs and be proactive.
Tip #3 Rewards Work Better Than Punishments
Dogs are pleasers. They want you to be happy. When you're happy they will go out of their way to repeat the behavior. When your dog makes a mistake in the house (and they will make a mistake in the house), don't punish them. Take them outside immediately. If possible take the waste with you and place it on the lawn. As soon as your dog goes to the bathroom outside, reward them. Praise and treats both work well as rewards.
Tip #4 Use Consistent Language
Teach your dog the words you want to use. For example, “Do you want to go outside?” If you use this phrase every time you take your dog out, they'll begin to respond when they want to go outside.
Tip #5 Choose the Right Tools
Crates are wonderful for young dogs because they give them a safe place to go. Your dog also won’t go to the bathroom in their crate so you can use it to control their training. If you choose to crate your dog, make sure you let it outside immediately after opening the crate - and don’ t leave them in the crate for longer than they can hold their bladder.
Some people prefer to train their dogs to signal to them when they need to go outside. For example, they may hang a bell from the door knob and train the dog to ring the bell when it needs to go outside. This is advanced training and isn't required to housebreak your dog.
Finally, make sure you approach the housebreaking experience as a positive one. If the dog senses you don’t want to take it outside, it will try not to go. Keep boots and a coat near the door so you can take the dog out and be comfortable when you're out there. Make it pleasant for the both of you.