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9 Easy Ways To Keep Dogs Warm In Winter

Few things are more unpleasant than feeling chilled to the core, especially when you are unable to do anything about it.

Unfortunately for dogs, many of them find themselves in this position when their humans forget to think of their basic needs… like “Is my dog warm enough!”

So here are some practical ideas to consider if you think your dog may be getting cold during the day or night, and how to keep them warm…

1. On sleeping outside…

Not all dogs are designed for the cold night air…and if freezing temperatures hit then some dogs do not have the ability to stay warm… Period. So if you have a dog who didn’t originate from the colder climates then give them a bed inside the house.

2. Kennels

Every dog that’s left outside should be given the choice of using a kennel. If they don’t need it then great, but many will if it really gets cold. Kennels should be watertight and protect from driving rain at the front. Consider the use of vertical plastic strips if water is getting in (or look for a kennel with a bigger roof out front).

3. Thick blankets

Every dog’s bed should have enough blankets or covers to keep warm. These could be old sacks, hay, or soft beautiful blankets! Wool blankets will keep much more heat than most. This may even be an old sweater that you’re thinking of throwing away!

4. Get your dog off the ground

The ground can suck a lot of heat out of a dog so get them off the ground. This may be a simple dog bed, or even a wooden pallet with a good thick cover over the top.

5. The doughnut ring

For maximum heat retention place the blankets in a doughnut shape with space for your dog to curl up in the center. With protection from the cold on all sides (and underneath) they only lose heat upwards rather than all directions…

6. Doggy Jackets

Some dogs love them, some hate them…

Even if you have tried one before it may be worth giving it a second go. My little dog Inca hated her jacket when we first bought it her but now she loves it 🙂

7. Inside the home…

Of course if your dog is sleeping inside with you then they are probably going to be pretty warm. Many dogs would do anything to be allowed to sleep inside and keep warm. Maybe give it some thought.

8. Wrapping them up at night

I’m not sure how it has ended up that every night all 4 of my dogs get wrapped up! (I shall catch it on camera one night) I’m sure it’s because it makes them feel warm and safe… Something to consider if it’s cold!

9. Shelter

Every dog needs shelter from the rain so if you haven’t already put some sort of shelter together then today is the day. Doesn’t have to be flash but they need something…!

The converted wine barrel

This wine barrel above has a heap of woolen blankets inside it, and is under a roof on our deck so no water comes in the front… and it does the trick! (It’s amazing that Jack can fit inside it because he is about the same size!)

One of the reasons many dogs live outside is because they haven’t been properly trained to behave inside the home.

If you’d prefer to have your dog inside, but are worried about your dog using the toilet in your home, chewing on your stuff, or getting into things that he/she shouldn’t, I want to take a minute and check out how I’ve trained over 37,000 dogs to listen, respond, and behave in your home when it matters most!

Check it out here!

Have a puppy? No problem, we have a Puppy Coach program as well.

Find out more here!

Hoping these tips will help you love your dogs even more this winter…

Stay warm everybody!

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~Doggy Dan 🙂

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

23 Responses

  1. I have a shelter rescue that has short hair… I don’t think I’d ever had a dog with short hair before.. he is a St.Bernard (25%) mixed with German Shepherd (42%) and Australian Shepherd (25%) with only 7% Basset Hound.. it seems the short hair is dominant and he ended up with short German Shepard hair and no undercoat. He gets cold a lot!!! It took us yonks to figure out that when he was scratching around in the bed ripping up the sheets he was just cold and wanted to be tucked in under the down comforter. Now we know to cover the monster up and he’ll sleep for hours. I always thought coats were for small dogs but my Peaches is 80 pounds and loves his coats!! Living in an RV is tough and the heater only raises the temperature 12% from what the outside temps are.. so we need our 2 dogs in bed to keep us warm in the Winter. The second dog has short hair but he’s mostly American Stafordshire Terrier mixed with a little Golden Retriever and Springer Spaniel so doesn’t seem to get as cold. He still loves getting under the covers with the rest of us during these windy Winter nights in Long Beach Washington.

  2. If a person insists on leaving their dog outside in inclement weather with little or no shelter, they simply do not deserve to have the love and companionship of a dog. Simple as that. Dogs are pack animals and what is the point of having one if you aren’t willing to let them be part of your pack?

    1. I must admit I too see my dogs as part of the family…
      Sometimes on very cold nights I will actually get out of bed and go into the lounge where it can get cold in the winter to put the blankets over the dogs again! The funniest thing is the appreciation I get is incredible so its all worth it. A couple of my dogs seem to have learnt the art of pulling their own blankets over themselves – I’ve never seen them do it but I know it happens !

  3. We used to have to get up several times during the night to tuck a blanket around my service dog until I finally convinced my husband that he was indeed cold so we should try letting him sleep with us so that now we all sleep all Night . The dog knows not to touch my sore legs but claims his part of the bed if he is cold.

    1. Hi Rosalind, glad you found a solution that works for you all! Having a dog sleep on your bed is absolutely not a problem as long as you have invited them up rather than them claiming that space at will. I generally advise clients to get settled in bed first and then call their dog up. Sounds like you have one very amazing dog! Best…Doggy Dan

  4. I bought a heated mat for my outside dog, but she will not go on it. Any suggestions on how to get her to eat on it?

    1. Hi Lisa,
      What a very lucky dog! Some dogs find extreme temperatures, like heat or cold, an unusual sensation on their paws and so it can help to provide something to insulate them. It may help to place an old towel or rug over the heated mat so that it dulls the warmth a little. If your dog has a favourite blanket then placing this over the mat might work really well. Just be careful there is no risk of it causing a fire etc, as some mats are not designed to be covered. Other than that if you use treats to encourage your dog to sit on the mat then it will create a more positive association for her. Sometimes making too big a fuss about having a dog lay on the mat can actually make them avoid it even more, so it may be best to let her work it out herself. Best, Doggy Dan

  5. I just adopted an american pitbull terrier we named grace. she is amazing and i couldnt ask for a berrer puppy she is only 16wks right now but when she is older i will be training her to be my ptsd service animal. honestly it makes me sick to my stomach when i see dogs left outside, they belong inside with their family. people that dont understand this have absolutly no business having an animal. If i ever see an animal left outside in the cold (I live in new england, USA) you better believe im taking that pup and finding him a better home that deserves him/her. My gracie sleeps with my girlfriend and i everysingle night and i wouldnt have it any other way. also, huge thanks to doggy day for all the awesome info, I really appreciate your style, and all you have done for pups and their families

    1. Thanks Christopher! I’m really glad you find the information I put out helpful. We don’t get the kind of Winter temperatures here in New Zealand that you guys get in the Northern hemisphere. I actually find it really hard to comprehend that level of cold, but keeping dogs warm and safe should always be a top priority for their owners! Best, Doggy Dan

  6. I feel for the dogs I walk. They are chained up in a storage yard – with kennels but would love to have them feeling snug in the winter. One is a Huntaway and dense have much body mass at all (plus she may at the time be pregnant!). The owners say that leaving a blanket in the kennels will attract dust mites and other irritants… that it is a ‘townie’ thing to do and it seems the dogs pull the blankets outside anyway. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Alex, this is a bit of a difficult issue to approach if the dogs are owned by other people. It is important that dogs living outdoors have shelter from the elements, plenty of fresh water and enough food to eat. It is a bit frustrating and upsetting when you feel that dogs are not being looked after as you would like them to, so if you are concerned then maybe having a chat to your local animal welfare authority would help clarify what the regulations are. In an ideal world the dog’s owners would take on-board your advice but that may not happen. Thanks for keeping an eye out for these dogs, best Doggy Dan

  7. Thank you, Doggy Dan. I love getting these email and links. All the information is very helpful. I got Felix, my golden doodle at 10 weeks and he has been raised with the 6 golden rules. Everyone comments about how well-behaved he is (most of the time). Felix likes to sleep on the bare floor! – all year ’round. He loves cold weather! He’s only 20 months now, so maybe when he’s a little older I’ll try putting a sweater on him. No telling how that would be received, though.
    Again, thanks. I’ve recommended your website to many dog owners.

    1. Mary you’ve added a rule, there are only 5, but I would be really interested to learn what your 6th rule is haha! For dogs that live indoors with us it can be common for them to feel the heat a little more, generally because the temperatures we like to live in can be very different to their preference. Remember that many dog breeds have very effective warming systems by way of their natural coats. So if they have grown their full Winter coat and we have the heating on indoors, it can mean they may get a little hotter than they like. I think that if Felix generally feels the warmth a bit more then putting a dog coat on him may not be all that necessary. Thanks for recommending us! Best, Doggy Dan

  8. I think my dog gets cold at night (despite sleeping in our bedroom on a woolen quilt) I would love to give him a blanket but he rips it off and chews it. Outside during the day, we tried to give him an off the ground bed (which he loves using inside) but he shredded it and does the same with other blankets and beds we have tried also. Any suggestions to teach him not to shred everything he can get his teeth on?

    1. This is a pretty common issues and you would think that our dogs understand the blankets and beds are there for their own comfort! Dogs who are destructive and chew things can be motivated by anxiety, especially if it mainly happens when you are out of the house. They need somewhere to direct that anxious energy and the actions of chewing helps release feel-good hormones into their system to help calm them down. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com covers this issue. I’m certainly not saying this is what’s going on with your dog but it is important to look at the behaviour to see if there are any underlying behavioural issues. Some dogs do just like to chew! As long as your dog has somewhere they can get out of the cold weather and wind, then that may be the best option for your dog. There are pet beds on the market that claim to be indestructible, so you may like to look into those. Best, Doggy Dan

  9. I have another way to keep your dog warm. Get an old pair of pants and cut the legs off to the length of your dog. Cut down the center to create a long piece of fabric. sew on a button to the front. It is a wearable blanket! Your dog will like this way better than a sweater and it is for sure going to stay on your dog at night.

    1. Great idea Olivia! I’m always in support of recycling and who doesn’t have an old pair of comfy tracksuit bottoms lying around. Best, Doggy Dan

  10. I have a toy Poodle, a “ lap dog” which I love! He is 17 months old and I have allowed him into my “space” whenever I am seated. Is this why he barks ferociously when I take him out to potty, if he sees human or animal in there own yard.. he’s protecting propert and me? When we are out for a walk, he does not bark at other people or dogs…until we get back to our yard! Does he do that because I allow him into my lap when seated??

    1. Hi Eloise,
      It may not just be this one area alone where your poodle is gathering information about what his role is in his family, there are other equally important areas that allow for a lot of information to be conveyed. When it comes to barking at home versus away from your property, some dogs can feel far more protective of their home territory than they do out on a walk or further away from home….it’s all about the perceived level of threat, in a place where they should feel safe and secure.
      Thanks for the post! Doggy Dan

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