Karen B. London
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When Dogs Want to Stay Inside
Cold weather can be daunting

When I opened the back door to let Marley out in the morning, he didn’t move. Normally, he races out gleefully once I give him the okay, but not on that day. In fact, he looked at me reproachfully. He seemed disgusted that I had even suggested he leave the warmth of the house to relieve himself in the minus nine degrees (Fahrenheit!) temperature outdoors.

I changed tactics, and after putting on so many layers of clothes I was practically spherical, I went outside myself and invited him to join me. He complied, did what he needed to do, and bolted back inside to the best spot in the house—in front of the wood stove. Once I had peeled off my winter gear, I joined him there.

Marley, like most dogs, loves snow and usually doesn’t object to the cold. He happily goes out when it’s 20 degrees or above. From five to 20 degrees, he hesitates, but will go out on his own, and below that, he needs serious encouragement and perhaps company to brave the weather.

I can hardly blame Marley for his behavior on the morning he refused to go out at first. It was, after all, more than 40 degrees below the freezing point. I like to call it “not-kidding-around cold” and Marley was not in a laughing mood about it.

How cold is too cold for your dog?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Frances | January 18 2013 |

It's rarely too cold even for my two toys here in the UK - but it is often too wet! Unfortunately if we stayed in whenever it rained we would rarely leave the house, so only in the very worst weather do I give into the pathetic eyes gazing at me from just inside the door, as I stand entreating and cajoling in the downpour outside. Otherwise it's on with the leads and off we all go!

Submitted by Ron Ayotte | January 19 2013 |

My dogs will go out when it's cold, or wet and cold.... but they don't "dillydally".. it's squirt, squat and get back in the house asap!

Submitted by Jen, DOGthusiast.com | January 19 2013 |

Big grain of salt needed: I live in northern coastal California, so weather never gets too bad here. We do need many daily walks, as we do not have a yard.

No weather is too poor for Mort, our presumed Kelpie workin-energy-dog. He has next to no body fat and short fur (almost no fur on his belly), and will be out the door in a flash even if he's shivering and begrudgingly wearing his coat.

Tigger, our presumed English Shepherd who has a beautiful double coat (and looks a lot like Marley in the photo above!), is the one who protests with cold or damp weather - especially in the rain. She will walk to the closest patch of grass near our townhouse, do her business, and turn around to return home.

I used to have a lovely, calm old dog (a glorious mix of who knows what) who would go out, with enthusiasm, in *any* weather. Even thunderstorms and torrential downpours. He would use his arm like a windshield wiper, remove the puddles from his face, and keep prancing along like it was nothing. Yes, that old guy loved his walks.

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