Colorado was slammed with a spring blizzard on Wednesday … not unusual for Colorado but certainly not welcomed by humans or dogs alike. To be sure, we need the moisture so won’t complain there. However, the driving snow and 50-mph winds did little for dogs or trees in our neighborhood. Four of our trees sustained significant damage from the snow caking on branches. The weight eventually snapped the limbs off completely or split the trunks. A maple, two crabapples and a hawthorne all lost limbs … time will tell as to if the trees will make it or not. The top of one crabapple was completely snapped off. Bummer.
We set up a dog run of sorts in the winter for a couple of reasons … one, it makes a smaller footprint to have to scoop for the dogs and, two, it keeps the dogs from accessing areas which have not been scooped so they don’t come back in looking like a giant snow ball (see last photo). Unfortunately, even having a dog run that had been scooped twice didn’t help with this blizzard. The potty run filled up quickly and it’s hard to potty in 6+ inches of snow when one is less than 11-inches tall at the shoulder! All told, we got 18+-inches of snow out of this storm in less than 12 hours.
Soooo, what’s a small dog to do?!?!? Thankfully, I’ve trained my three to potty in an exercise pen (x-pen) from the time they were small puppies. Dante and Jentry are old hands at it … Teller was a bit confused by it all. I set up a small x-pen in the garage, lined it with potty pads and everyone was able to relieve themselves until we could dig out.
Let’s talk about equipment … in my book, x-pens are a “must have” for the dog owner. They come in different heights and I use 24″ or 30″ depending on the application. Definitely prefer the 24″ as I can actually step over that one. At 5’3″ and a 28″ inseam, a 30″ pen is out of my reach, both to step over and to lean over to pick up a dog. Those of us who are height challenged have to consider all the angles, literally. If you have a dog that can jump/climb 24″ you’ll probably want a 30″ pen.
One x-pen will make a four-by-four pen (I prefer the Midwest brand of pens, without a door). The pens are open ended so you can add extra panels to make a larger pen or connect two pens together for a substantial space. We use several pens connected together for a dog run during the winter as we have a large patio to cover to get to the grass. The pens make good markers as to snow fall since the sections are set up in vertical increments of six inches. We’ve used the pens when camping as an area for the dogs to hang out so they’re not constantly on a leash. Throw in a bed, toys, coop cups for food/water and they’re all set. Drag up a comfortable chair, an adult beverage and you’re all set.
As all of my pens were out in the yard, I used a small fold-up pen that I keep in the grooming room and/or take to dog shows. Dog shows typically have outside areas for potty runs (this works if a small venue and one can easily get to “outside”). However, if the weather outside is bad, toileting can be an issue. In the case of the large Denver shows, they set up penned-off areas inside, full of sawdust. Not good for dogs in full coat … and can be a source of disease/germs. So, we use a lightweight six-panel pen made by Mardel that’s easily transported and set up (scroll down to find the mini-exercise pens).
Potty pads … given that I don’t use them all that often, I buy Assurance underpads from Wal-Mart. While they cost more than the pet-specific pads, they absorb more and come in a 30 x 36 size (two will cover a small x-pen nicely, for about .52 cents each). The boys are sent out first with belly bands so they’re not peeing out the sides of the pen, solid wastes are bagged and set outside (use of the belly bands also keeps the pads clean so the boys are not walking in urine). Jentry is then “exercised” in a basically clean pen. Depending on what’s going on and where we’re at, I may cover her pee spot with newspapers so she’s not walking in urine and the pads are good for a second use. When done, it all gets bagged up and put in the trash bin outside so we don’t have to worry about odors. I have also used this set up in a hotel room — a heavy-duty sheet of plastic is unrolled in an area and then the pen and potty pads are set up.
Flying with a dog and can’t get to the potty area? Pack along a potty pad and then take the dog to the restroom (easier if the dog is a male so you can use a belly band as well). All good reasons to train your dog to: (1) potty on command and (2) potty in an x-pen as it gives you and the dog more options when nature calls.
Belly bands … having used several different types over the years, I’ve found Playapup to be the most comfortable for the boys. They are narrower on the ends and the neoprene material has some stretch to it. This brand doesn’t tend to bunch up because of excess material as with other bands. Line it with an incontinence pad and it can be used for potty runs as noted above or used in conjunction with training for males that mark indoors. They wash up easy/dry quickly and I always have at least two on hand so they can be changed out on wash days.
So there you have it … tricks of nature, nature calls and traveling with small dogs. What tricks have you utilized for inclement weather or while traveling?