House training in winter

By | Published On: December 6, 2022 | Categories: Behaviour, Cats, Dogs, Training |

I always get more enquiries from dog owners on what to do about the increase in ‘little accidents’ indoors in wintertime. You may even have noticed that thanks to the colder weather and snow, your dogs are holding on until they come back into the warmth of your house. They might be sneaking off and leaving you little pre-christmas ‘gifts’… Well, help is at hand. Today, TV trainer Debbie Connolly gives us her best advice on solving this pernicious problem.

There’s no question that some pets don’t like the cold and simply aren’t keen on going out to toilet. Reluctance to cross the doorstep should be taken seriously, you wouldn’t go out barefoot, would you?

Help your pet regulate their temperature

Puppies, kittens and older pets can have problems regulating their temperature, so may need a coat, boots even in order to feel warm enough, even for a wander round the garden. Some feel a bit insecure on the ice, I put grit on my path from the back door and on a patch of grass so my 14 year old collie can get down the garden.

Provide cats with a litter tray

Cats that don’t need a litter tray usually might appreciate one through the winter, even if it’s just outside the back door.  Not being able to dig up the frozen ground or sinking in mud isn’t a pleasant way to toilet so your carpets become a nicer option.

Update your feeding routine to accommodate less exercise

None of us exercise our dogs as much in the really bad weather so be aware that there may be less opportunities to toilet. Think about whether your feeding routine needs changing at all to accommodate this.

It may be inevitable that your pet messes during the winter months. Sometimes you are out longer than usual because of travel delays, your dog may be desperate! With less opportunity to walk and the cold weather, your cat might just get a bit desperate too.

Address stress & neutering

Remember no matter what you uncover, you cannot and must not ever punish your pet for the mess you find. Your job is to be reassuring and clean it up and look at what you need to do to sort it out. Stress can cause inappropriate marking as can not being neutered, so address those issues too.

Check for any underlying medical issues

If you don’t treat the underlying cause and the behaviour seems to be a habit rather than a one off, then see your vet to check for underlying medical issues and a behaviourist if health didn’t cause it.  Older cats and dogs can become incontinent and confused and need your support and sometimes medication, not your temper.

Use appropriate cleaning products

How you clean mess is vital to stopping the cycle. Never use products with ammonia as urine contains ammonia and pets can sometimes be confused as to whether another animal has been and marked too. What gets left behind with traditional cleaning is the microscopic, fatty deposit that you can’t see but your pet can smell. The pet is drawn back and a bad cycle is created.

The best cleaning product deal with odour too. This is important for us as well as them. We may find the smell unpleasant but your pet likes it and wants more of it. Cleaners, such as the 2Pure range, use enzyme action to break down the fatty deposit so it can be cleaned up. This also destroys the compounds that cause the smell.

In a lot of cases when you clean, you use lovely, floral products and you are overwhelmed by them long before the area is truly clean. This is how your nose works, the new smell is recognised over the old one. But the old one is still there.

The 2Pure range is odour free, an excellent way to clean this type of mess.  You tend to keep cleaning longer and more effectively as the dirty smell isn’t masked.  I prefer this type of product as I feel I clean much better this way and there isn’t the later return of a stale version of the nasty smell.

Breaking the cycle of marking really needs a total removal of the residual smell, as well as potential veterinary or behaviourist involvement.

Have a happy and smell free Xmas! Debbie x

– Karen Wild

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