Southern shelters are often the most crowded in the United States. So, whenever rescues and shelters near my home get new dogs in, they usually come from overcrowded kill shelters in warm climates. It’s great that states like Wisconsin and Michigan have plenty of space for these dogs, but the adjustment to a new climate can be difficult on some dogs. So, can dogs adjust to cold climates and snow? And how can you help them adjust?
Can Dogs Adapt to New Climates?
Yes, dogs can adapt to new climates! However, it might be a difficult transition for some dogs. For example, dogs with thick double coats can easily adapt to cold climates, but they could be more prone to heat stroke during warmer weather. On the other hand, dogs with thin coats might be comfortable in a southern state, but the snow may be too chilly for them.
Adjustments can be hard for anyone, so it will likely take time for a dog to adjust to a new location. This is especially true for foster dogs who made a long journey to a cold, unfamiliar place. But with time, they can get used to it. Some dogs will even realize that the snow can be fun!
How Can You Help a Dog Adjust to Snow?
Any adjustment with a dog should be gradual. Limit their outdoor time at first and then slowly spend more time in the snow. For most dogs, it can help to shovel out a “potty patch” so they can see the grass when they do their business. At first, Taco was terrified of the snow, but after using our potty patch a few times, he seems fairly tolerant of it now.
Dogs who aren’t used to snow and cold weather might also be more sensitive at first. Their nose, toes, and everything in between could be extra cold when touching the outside air. So, if your dog is scared or worried at first, be patient. Don’t force them to be out in the cold longer than they want to. Start with short bathroom breaks before taking long walks in the snow.
If there’s snow in the air, that might make it even scarier for your dog, so don’t get frustrated with them when they see their first snowfall. Instead, be encouraging and go outside with them. You could also try to play fetch with them or give them treats when out in the snow. This can help them associate the cold with positive things, making them more likely to enjoy it.
Finally, it might sound ridiculous, but dog winter clothes can sometimes help too. Some dogs feel more comfortable with a fuzzy jacket or some little boots. You likely bundle up to play in the snow, so it’s only fair that you keep your dog protected too. Whatever you can do to help a dog’s transition become easier will benefit your pup.
No one likes being cold, but in many locations, snow is something that can’t be avoided. Be patient with your dog or foster dog to help them get used the new climate. Also, keep them safe during chilly days and don’t leave them outside for too long. Dogs can love winter, but only if their humans do everything they can to keep them safe.
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