How to Housebreak a Puppy in the Winter

By Zach Lazzari

Cold winter weather, snow and ice pose challenges to housebreaking a puppy. Although the climate is an obstacle, successful housebreaking is possible during the winter. The puppy will learn to go outside through a reward system. The cold weather also means the puppy will go outside only when ready and will do his business quickly.

Clear a Path

Make a space in your yard that is easily accessible for the puppy. Choose this area wisely as the puppy will establish a scent and continue using it after the winter. Shovel snow and clear the area of ice when possible. The puppy will have no issues going outside as long as there is space available and the snow is not too deep.

Dress Warm and Supervise

Always supervise the puppy during the winter. Cold weather is difficult on small breeds and short hair breeds when their fur is not fully developed. Sled dogs and puppies with thick coats will have few issues with temporary exposure to the cold. Dress warm yourself to maintain a reasonable level of comfort and safety while you watch the dog. Wait until he goes then shovel the poop into a bag and dispose in an outdoor trash. This prevents it from layering under new snow and ice.

Watch the puppy for shivering and signs of cold related discomfort. Bring the puppy inside when shivering. Hypothermia is a real threat to puppies who experienced prolonged exposure to the cold.

Monitor the Signals

Pay attention to the puppy as he will wait until necessary to go outside. Monitor him in the hours after feeding and after he consumes water. He will develop a habit of going on a rough schedule when you feed and exercise the puppy on a regular regimen. Also, hang a bell from the door handle and teach the puppy to ring it with his nose when he is ready. Provide a reward for ringing the bell.

Use Rewards

Reward the puppy with a treat after he goes to the door and tells you he has to go outside. Reward him again after he goes to the bathroom. The positive reinforcement will encourage the puppy to continue using the outdoor space.