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Why when my dog goes out in cold weather do her back legs become paralized?

Posted by Tara M.

When we let our dog outside in weather under 20 degrees even for 5 min to go to the bathroom her back legs become paralized and she cant move or use them. She crys and we have to carry her inside. after 2 min or so she is fine.
Answers (1)
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The question is whether this is a medical or behavioral problem. The first step is to have your dog examined by your veterinarian to rule out any medical problem.

If she is otherwise healthy and because she recovers so quickly, then this could be a behavioral problem. For example, when a friend of mine  comes to visit, her dogs and mine romp and play in the cold and snow for at least 15-20 minutes. These 4 dogs all weigh in the 9-15 pound range and I live in New Hampshire where there's lots of snow and it's cold in winter. When my friend is ready to go home, she calls her dogs to the car so she can brush the snow off them before she lets them inside. One of them comes right away, but the other one immediately goes into his paralyzed routine as well as trembles. Because she has to get going, she goes and picks up him.  In the process of doing this, she rewards the behavior and, sure enough, he repeats it.

On the other hand, when the dogs are in their own home and the owner lets them out into a secure yard to relieve themselves and play, they're fine...unless they notice that someone is watching. In that case, that same dog starts the same act again. If the dog had been granted the additional reward of being allowed to go to the bathroom in the house, I suspect his display would be even more dramatic.

So once your veterinarian gives your dog a clean bill of health, you may have to play hardball  and calmly and confidently ignore the theatrics (singing songs in your head or outloud helps) and stay outside with your dog until she realizes she can't manipulate you and goes to the bathroom. If you can't do that and choose to accept that she prefers to relieve herself  in the house, just be prepared that she may choose to do that regardless of the weather. If you don't want that, you're going to have to go through the whole house-training process again come spring.



NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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