Dopers who live in very cold/snowy winter climates: how do you walk your dogs?

It’s about 36 degrees here at the moment- cold but not unbearable- and is supposed to be in the 20s tomorrow. (Fahrenheit I should add for non U.S. Dopers.) I always dread walking my dogs when it dips below freezing and they usually get fewer than their customary leash walks and more “back yard” time and “set down training pads for accidents” time.

In Alabama there’s usually a dozen sub-freezing nights per year and rarely are more than 2 consecutive and even then the days will often be warm. While walking them earlier this evening though I just started wondering: how do dog owners in places like Maine or the U.S./Canadian midwest or Scandinavia or other places where it gets absolutely frigid or snow covered in winter sometimes for several consecutive days deal with this? Presumably nobody walks them during a blizzard, but how about just, say, a week long period snow and ice and single freezing temperatures? Do you just bundle up and bite the bullet and take them out, or do you paper train them, or… what exactly?

More GQ perhaps but I’ll IMHO since I’m sure there’ll be different answers.

Our dog pees in the backyard, no matter how cold it is. We exercise him indoors. He chases the Swiffer like a madman.

You bite the bullet and take them out. Small and short-haired dogs wear coats and sweaters. Some dogs wear booties. I put Musher’s foot wax on my dog’s feet for blistering cold days (also to protect from road salt).

I have a fenced-in yard so I don’t have to walk my dog. But last Christmas I was at my brother’s and had to take her out on a leash. The windchill was below zero. She kept “horking” as if she couldn’t breathe. I think her nose was freezing from the wind. I had to keep stopping and blowing into her nose so we could finish our business and get back inside.

You’d be surprised how much cold you can handle if the sun is out and it’s not windy. If you’re properly dressed (sometimes I wear polar cleats) and your dog is fine with it, a short walk is no big deal.

Same here. Sadie’s a fetcher, and we also have a roundabout in the house, so she gets some good exercise. She’s still a puppy, and a couple times a day she makes mad runs through four rooms, chasing herself, then flops on somebody’s lap.

She potties outside. We usually bundle up and take her out, but on the coldest days (like the minus 20 windchill yesterday and today), I put the retractable leash on, let her out, and I stand inside while she potties. And she’s learning to potty fast (on three legs). She does like the snow though. :slight_smile:

My late dog Bear was a Samoyed so it wasn’t an issue here in the Boston area. It doesn’t get cold enough for their Arctic tendencies and he got more into his game the colder it got so it was up to us to bundle up and walk him. Pure cold isn’t bad at all even in the teen’s F and below as long as it is somewhat clear and not windy. Light snow isn’t that bad either. However, sleet and freezing rain are nasty and I usually wouldn’t walk him in those conditions but I might play with with in the yard. It snowed a fair amount here a couple of days ago and people still walked their dog in the morning.

It doesn’t take exotic gear to stay warm in dry cold above 0 F for shorter walks. Thermal underwear, jeans, water resistant shoes, an undershirt and a decent coat do just fine. What the dog needs depends on the breed. Small and short-haired dogs may need extra protection but lots of dogs don’t. They are domesticated wolves after all and wolves live in some seriously cold climates. A lot of the places you listed have much drier climates than Alabama and it does make a big difference. Louisiana was freezing at 35F when I lived there and it was difficult to stay warm at all. Clothing insulates much better in some colder climes because it gets very dry during the winter.

I’m not sure what the mystery is. You walk the dogs the same way you walk to and from other places. Even if the only walking you do is to and from your car. It helps to wear a hat and warm clothing. For the most part the difference between really cold weather and pleasant weather is that it takes a little longer to get dressed for the cold.

As ZipperJJ said, bite the bullet. I have had at least one dog for the last 15 years, and I live in a condo in the 'burbs of Chicago, and walk them on leash. The Rhodesian Ridgeback gets a coat on cold days like today (single digits). My recently departed Norwegian Elkhound was good to go in all but the most frigid temperatures. They usually have incentive to get things over with quickly, so in the coldest weather we were never out for more than 10 minutes or so at a time.

However, the first snow for a dog is weird. Zilla, the Ridgeback beast, didn’t poop for over 24 hours after first snowfall cause she just didn’t know it was ok to poop in the snow. It felt weird underfoot compared to lawn, I guess. The first time I took her out to pee in snow, I think we were out for at last a half hour. I can’t imagine housetraining a dog in the winter is fun at all. I always have gotten puppies in the spring or summer.

The wind chill was about zero today. I took my beagles for about a 2 mile walk in the park. The wind was horrible. But they were happy and we will do it again tomorrow. We go every day except for days of steady rain. So we walk about 360 days a year. In long summer days we walk twice. I walk through snow in my gym shoes. No problem.

True that. You always hear of dry heat but one forgets there’s also “dry cold”. The most miserable weather here is when it’s cold but also humid and you feel it on your face like little ice droplets.

Northern Midwest doper speaking here:

My previous dogs (and they were extremely stupid, god bless them :rolleyes:) figured out how to “go” almost immediately.

And this was with 1-2 feet of snow on the ground. When dogs need to go, they figure out a way.

As for me - a sturdy winter coat, a a scarf, a wool cap and a pair of mittens keeps me good for at least an hour for any temperature at or above the single digits (fahrenheit). Below that, I’d need some thermal underwear at the minimum.

We can walk ours without issue until -20 or -30 C. In that range we let them play in the yard. If we notice them lifting their paws too much we pull them in and just play fetch in the house. They’re husky mixes and can handle a lot of cold but there comes a point where they would just as soon stay cuddled up on the couch until the cold snap breaks.

I live out in the country in Connecticut [looks out at about 5 inches of snow on the ground in back] and do nothing different [our dog prefers it outside, she is a husky mix and is currently doing the silly dog trick of sleeping on her back sprawled out in the biggest puddle of snow she can find]

Now, if you live where there will be salt on the road surface, please get doggie booties to protect the pads, and if they are a short hair like a dachshund or no hair like a chihuahua, get a coat for them. Otherwise, dont worry about it, dogs evolved living outside and are pretty tolerant of weather conditions.

Actually, as much as I dislike winter, I’m always happy when it dips below 32 and stays there because the dogs bring a lot less mud into the house. Also makes those frozen little turds a little more pleasant to pick up. Just make sure you don’t let too much pile up under repeated snows, or things can get pretty disgusting come spring.

Most dogs adapt quite well to cold - and do better the more you let them out in it. So the only thing is getting the right clothes for yourself. Living in a colder climate, you either buy a few utilitarian pieces of cold-weather gear, or you plan on spending several months primarily indoors.

As far as walking my dogs, I’d far prefer cold and snow to rain. In addition to the mess, 2 dogs on 2 leashes makes an umbrella difficult.

My dog’s an idiot Anatolian Shepherd who loves the cold so I just throw him in the backyard.

To prove he’s an idiot I bought him a insulated dog house last year in preparation of winter and he wouldn’t go in it. I figured it was because it was too warm for him. Winter rolls around and i have two feet of snow in my backyard and it’s in the negatives most morning when I put him out he still didn’t go into the dog house instead he preferred the top of a snow bank where he could look out over the neighborhood.

Good lord. Today it was 35 or so, and Captain goes in the backyard but needs supervision because he has a tendency to run straight through wire to escape. I stood in the doorway in my underwear and a t-shirt and watched his Potty Race (he’s gotten it down to less than a minute these days.) I thought I was going to die, but I don’t think I’d have a dog if his morning constitutional required long underwear and boots. One day the neighbors are going to see me and I don’t know what I’ll say. “Good morning,” I guess.

It was -2 this morning when I got up.

Usually, I just let the pugs out in our fenced backyard to do their business, but past experience has shown me that once it gets below 5 degrees, their poor lil’ puggy feet freeze and I sometimes have to go save them. So I bundled up and went out with them.

They did OK - no frozen feet - but they’ve asked to go out two more times this morning, which leads me to believe that they didn’t do their thing.

I guess if I had a job out of the house, I’d be coming home to some messes. As it is, I just let them out 5 million times a day, and eventually it gets done.

We’re actually getting a new dog next week, so we’re going to find out!

Regarding going out in cold weather, you just bundle up! Heck, my son and I are going on a Scout campout this weekend. We’ll be tent camping. The predicted high temperature tomorrow is 27 deg F; the overnight low is 16 deg F. Yes, it’s going to be cold, but we’ve got the gear for it. The key is layers.

My sister in Anchorage walks her dog twice a day, every day, sub-freezing or sub-zero, snow storm or clear and cold. She’s 72 and has been doing this for at least the past 50 years.

We pay someone. Well, this year we don’t…the dog has bad hips and we want to keep him off the ice. So he gets his exercise in the house. Big dog, medium sized house. But he is three years old now, so he is starting to slow down.

Tuesday night I was in Central Park (around west 96th St.), it was sunset and around 40 degrees, and there was a parade of doggies being walked by bundled-up owners, chatting away with each other as usual. They were walking without stopping and sitting on benches and the smaller dogs were wearing coats (no booties because no snow, no salt), but most of them were nekkid. The dogs, I mean. Most larger species grow winter coats if they’re northern-bred and look all shaggy and happy.

My brother has two dogs in upstate NY and a fenced-in backyard. We let them out as usual and all they do is run faster for exercise and come in sooner. The wimpiest one, who grows a thick double coat for the cold, does his business quickly and starts pawing at the back door while his younger short-coated girlfriend is still running around, so different dogs have different tolerances despite the breed.