For community members. Feel free to post your dog-training questions here.
How cold is too cold? (5 replies)
And how long is too long?
Since poor Cinnamon has no fenced yard to run in currently, I have been taking her for two walks (morning and evening) of about 15-20 minutes each most days.
Since she has her own winter coat, I haven't been too worried (sometimes she just lays down while outside). However, soon it will snow and get colder, too. So for the different temps possibly in N.IL, how long is too long to be outside (walking or just in back), and at what temperature should I NOT take her out for more than the time it takes to do business?
Hi Melissa! Great question, actually, and I don't have the perfect answer. I would say once the temps start hitting 30's, pay attention to what Cinnamon thinks about it, and in the 20's maybe cut walks down to 10-15 minutes with an assessment now and then. Teens, I might not go out for more than 5-10 minutes, and anything lower than that is just too cold for anyone but the snow dogs!
This is something I'll be trying to pay attention to with Gytha, too. This is her first winter ever, and while she certainly doesn't care for the cold, she seems to be acclimating to the cooler temps quickly. Still feelin' it out. Izzy, however, dislikes anything below 50's and hates the cold, period. So much so, she'll try to avoid pooping unless it's a bathroom emergency!
Good luck, I know you'll find the right balance before the winter's over 🙂
The first winter I had Loki, the temps dropped to -18 degrees at one point. I remember going out with him chanting "go potty, go potty, go potty". We were only out for a handful of minutes each time. It was horrible.
I like the attached chart a lot. For Cinnamon, she is small/medium with a long coat, so "unsafe potential" for her starts at about 25 degrees. For Gytha, that starts around 35 degrees. At that point, it's still okay to go for walks, but keep them a bit shorter, and make sure you are watching for signs of discomfort. If the dog doesn't want to be outside after doing her business, then get her back in. When you hit the range where the temperature is "dangerous", then it's time to go in after doing their business, but if they want to stay out a minute or two more it's okay. For Cinnamon and Gytha, that's about 15 degrees.
You will probably want to consider the well-being of their paws. My default is Mushers Secret. It's a wax boot that I smear on paws before we go out on colder days/nights. It was engineered for sled dogs. It's also helps protect against sidewalk salt, which can get caught in their pads and irritate their feet. Keep in mind that the dog will be tracking wax into the house, though. You can also use doggy boots or socks.
Overall, be conservative in your estimates, erring on the side of caution. If the dog looks uncomfortable, then it's probably time to go in. If the dog is having lots of fun, then it may be time to go in to warm up, and come out again a bit later. In the case of Loki and Lugh, it feels like we are in and out constantly.
That's a good chart. Tonight was a rare night for Gytha — she had started abusing the potty bells earlier this week before the temps dropped. Tonight, she only did that once, and only because I took Izzy potty without her. We do take her out every time she rings them, and we pick a spot to stand until she either potties or 5 minutes is up, then we go back inside. (No potty = no treats.) Thankfully, she pottied every time tonight, but she wasn't asking every 30 minutes!
So far for Gytha, as long as there isn't something super-interesting going on outside, she prefers to potty and then run back into the house ASAP if it's cold. I'm very grateful for this.
Cinnamon loves outside and wants me to watch her sniff the heck out of everything. I have to get better about a stricter time limit. No potty, no sniffing indiscriminately (or at least not with me watching.....).
With the snow coming in and my pups being snow dogs at heart, the whole "let's go outside and plaaayyy!!!" is about to start. I'm really hoping for lots of snow for the dogs, and not-too-cold temps for me.