** This blog post contains affiliate links**
Walking your dog is part of good dog ownership, but let’s face it: the weather isn’t always cooperative. It could be sunny one day, and raining the next day. So you may be wondering: “Walking a dog in the rain, is that a yes or a no?”
And I get it. Walking a dog in the rain is probably the last thing you want to do. As a pet care professional and dog trainer, I walk puppies and dogs in the rain. But that’s part and parcel of my job.
I also understand where you’re coming from as I hear from my clients firsthand, when there’s rain in the forecast and how they dread walking their dogs in the rain … the thought of getting wet, having a wet dog to dry, the mess in their house, the list could go on.
So I thought I’d write this blog post to share the ways that I prepare myself, not only mentally but physically to get ready for walks in the rain and how that makes a huge difference when walking a dog in the rain.
By reading this blog post, you’ll feel empowered walking your dog in the rain. So you’ll no longer avoid walking your dog when it rains. It will be a total game-changer for you and your dog!
Embracing Walking a Dog in The Rain
It can seem easier on a rainy day to decide to not go on a walk with your dog. I totally understand that thinking as sometimes it sounds better to stay in my house and not go on walks with my clients’ dogs.
However, there are important things that walking provides for your dog that you should focus on, instead of the rain. These include physical exercise and mental stimulation.
What’s more, walks in the rain can provide different sensory experiences you may not have been aware of. Some of these sensory experiences include:
- Smell – Rain can bring out new smells in the normal areas you walk with your dog, like bushes, grass, and even the places where other dogs have gone to the bathroom and your dog likes to sniff. Also, the rain can intensify all the smells around them.
- Sound – The drops of rain pounding on the sidewalk, dripping on leaves, bushes, and other places on your walk is something your dog can hear as dogs not only have a great sense of smell but hearing too.
- Touch – Your dog can feel the raindrops on his/her fur. There are also other things you may not realize your dog is touching when it rains such as wet grass, wet pavement, wet bushes, puddles, and even things like a wet leaf.
- Taste – You may have a dog that wants to drink water from a puddle or even a leaf while walking in the rain. It would taste different than what your dog would be used to experiencing.
Knowing that the rain can play a role in your dog’s sensory experiences will explain why walking your dog in the rain can actually be fun for you – and your dog. This knowledge will help you have a more positive mindset when it comes to walking your dog in the rain.
Preparing for Walking a Dog in the Rain
Being prepared when it comes to walking a dog in the rain can look different for every dog owner. A simple rain jacket might be the only thing you need to walk your dog in the rain. However, there are some other items you could wear or bring along to make the walk more enjoyable.
These include rain boots,(or even snow boots as just another option) and rain pants to keep your feet warm and avoid getting your socks wet. Having a rain jacket that has pockets, keeps you warm, and is easy to wear is another one of my hacks when it comes to walking dogs in the rain.
An umbrella could be useful as well; however, it could make it a little harder for you to hold the leash/ pick up poop as well as see if someone is coming up on you.
Now I am not trying to discourage you from using an umbrella if that seems to work better for you. Rather these are things I want you to be aware of when walking a dog in the rain using an umbrella.
I also like wearing an outfit that gives me full freedom of both of my hands and has a good hood on especially if it is rainy as well as windy. Those small things matter when you are dealing with a hood that doesn’t stay on your head.
So what you wear is important when going on a walk in the rain, but equally as important are the things to have ready in your house when you come back with a wet dog.
Those items include pet bath towels in a basket; you want a good amount of them depending on the size and breed of your dog. In addition, an entryway doormat might be great to use near your front door as it can help contain the water, dirt, or anything else you and your dog may track in.
Using a dog raincoat for your dog could help make it easier to wipe your dog off after a walk in the rain. However, don’t wait until it rains to get your dog used to wearing a raincoat as that might not go well.
Instead, work on getting your dog used to wearing a rain jacket before the need arises. Making it a positive experience by using treats and keeping it simple and short in the beginning is a great way to help you both.
Also, touching your dog’s paws and body every day will make it part of the daily routine and get him/her used to it. This can make anything you need to do, like putting the raincoat on your dog, an easier experience.
Prioritizing Safety When Walking Dogs in the Rain
Safety should be paramount when walking your dog in the rain because of various factors. Thinking the rain isn’t a big deal and not planning your walk accordingly could endanger both of you.
For example, in the area where I live, we have been in a drought for years. As a result, the trees aren’t as healthy and strong. So if there’s wind while it’s raining I avoid walking dogs near trees to keep us both safe.
Also, if there are uneven sidewalks or storm drains that overflow in your neighborhood that could be hazardous. When it rains, the sidewalks themselves can be very slippery. So you want to make sure you walk slower than usual.
I learned this the hard way; walking up a driveway and not slowing down led to me falling. Thankfully, with how I landed, I didn’t hurt anything; but this is just a reminder that you should slow down when walking a dog in the rain.
In addition, before walking your dog on a rainy day, checking your phone to see the hourly weather forecast and what type of rain may be coming your way can help you plan when to go on that walk. The percentage of rain, wind (miles per hour), and even the possibility of thunder or lightning are things I check on my phone to ensure I give myself the right window of time when it is rainy, but not as heavy or ominous.
You also want to make sure the leash, harness, or collar you use on walks is secure; I like to check things more than once to make sure they are on correctly. This will come in handy when walking your dog in the rain.
Another thing that rain can affect when it comes to safety is your hands. If your hands are getting wet by the rain it can impact the grip you have on the leash. Therefore, making sure you have a good grip on your leash is even more important.
Trying to use your jacket as a way to dry your hands could be something to try if you feel like your grip on the leash isn’t as great as you would like.
I use fingerless gloves especially when walking dogs in the rain. Gloves can make holding that leash easier as well as keep your hands warm. Try out both fingerless or regular gloves to see what works well for you when it comes to getting a good grip on the leash.
I tried regular gloves but felt like I would drop the leash, plus they weren’t comfortable. Everyone is different so trying both options will help you know what works best for you.
Finding Sheltered Routes When Walking Dogs in the Rain
Choosing a different route to walk your dog in your neighborhood or finding places where you have more shelter like a neighborhood park or bike tunnels could be another option to help you stay dry and not get pounded on by the rain.
Sometimes parks have community buildings as well as picnic areas/gazebos that could be great places to shelter if it starts to rain heavily on your walk. If you have lots of trees in your neighborhood or in a park that could be another great way to keep dry when walking your dog in the rain.
So the next time you go on a walk, when it is not raining, look around and see if you notice any places where you could take shelter if you were walking your dog in the rain (and it became unmanageable) as well as how easy it is to get over there. By doing this, you’ll have a plan when there’s a heavy downpour and stay safe.
What to Do With Dogs in the Rain
Noticing how your dog responds to the rain will give you an idea of what to do with your dog in the rain. If the rain doesn’t bother him/her, then allowing your dog to smell things and working on obedience training in the rain would be good.
However, if your dog is not a fan of the rain and wants to go the bathroom and get right back in the house then that means walking your dog in the rain will be a simple and quick bathroom walk before going back in the house and figuring out other things to do with your dog.
Meeting the needs of your dog when it comes to walking your dog in the rain really means just pivoting the dog walking routine. Instead of going on a thirty-minute walk with your dog, your walk schedule when it rains could be a bathroom walk and having your dog play with interactive toys and treat puzzles indoors.
Here are some options that your dog may like:
Instead of buying all of them in one go, it’s best to buy just one of these interactive toys and treat puzzles to see which one your dog prefers before buying another one.
Caring for Your Dog After Walking in the Rain
Often times when you and your dog are wet from walking in the rain, just getting in the house feels great. Although, you know drying your dog off is the next thing that needs to be done.
Instead of taking the leash off your dog, it’s best to keep it on as this will help you keep the water and mess in one area. Having some dog treats handy will be very helpful while trying to dry off your dog with a towel.
Give your dog lots of praise and if you had a raincoat on your dog, take it off. This will mean your dog’s legs, tail (if your dog has one), head, tummy (underbelly), and paws will need to be wiped off.
It can be easier to sit on the floor when trying to dry your dog off. Another thing you can do is put some treats under your leg. While your dog is looking for the treats you can use the towel and work on drying those areas I mentioned.
This makes it a positive experience and you just stop drying your dog when there are no treats for your dog to find.
Drying off your dog can also give you the opportunity to check your dog’s paws, legs, ears, and head, for example, to see if you notice anything like a lump or if the nails need a nail trim. Depending on your dog’s breed type and coat that fur can hide things you may not see from just looking at your dog. So drying off your dog gives you a great way to be proactive with your dog’s health by touching as well as feeling for things.
If you find something out-of-the-ordinary, then you can get it checked out by your veterinarian sooner and know if it is normal or needs to be treated.
Rainy Day Alternatives to Walking a Dog in the Rain
I wanted to discuss other options to consider for you and your dog if walking your dog in the rain is not something you really want to do, your schedule is too packed or you’re just not feeling it. We all have those days, and that’s okay.
You can work on teaching your dog some fun tricks like spin and bow. If you’re into agility and want to teach your dog to do some of that inside then using some dining chairs and arranging them in a line and working on your dog going around them could be another thing to do with your dog on a rainy day.
Interactive toys and food toys as I mentioned above could be another thing to give your dog to work on in the house.
A Tikaton Snuffle Mat for Dogs, Dog Puzzle Toys, Interactive Dog Toys, Great for Dog Anxiety Relief, Smell Training, Slow Food, Encourage Natural Foraging Skills, Suitable for Large/Medium/Small Dogs is another great thing to try and see how your dog enjoys it.
I like using boxes like the ones you get from Amazon for example. You could put some treats in them and see if your dog can figure out how to get the treats out as well.
Another game to play with your dog is what I call the “find it” game. If your dog knows how to go on their bed and stay or even stay in a sit or down that is great. While he/she is in that position you can hide kibble or treats around your house. When you are done then tell your dog to find it.
This will keep your dog busy trying to find the treats or kibble and the smell of them will make your dog continue to look and get tired out using his/her nose, paws, and brain while doing it.
Another option is doggy daycare. Not every dog is okay with going to a doggy daycare and this is something you should work on with your dog beforehand so it’s not stressful.
Make sure you do your research and ask questions of the doggy daycare owner, ensure they’re well versed in dog behavior, and have good policies to keep your dog safe.
Another option if you don’t want to walk your dog in the rain is to find a professional dog walker that can do those walks for you.
What Can I Do If My Dog Doesn’t Want to Walk in Rain?
There are two options you have if your dog doesn’t want to walk in the rain. First, you can take your dog in the car and see if you can find a place like a park where your dog likes to go to the bathroom. That way, both of you don’t get too wet and you can both get home easily.
Secondly, you can just take your dog (on a leash) in the backyard if you have one or in your front yard where your dog likes to go the bathroom and then head back in your house once your dog is done.
Your dog may be willing to go a little farther if there’s a neighbor’s house he/she likes to go to the bathroom. Once your dog goes to the bathroom then heading back to the house is the reward as well as getting lots of praise.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Walking in the Rain?
There is a possibility that a dog can get sick from walking in the rain. It is not necessarily the rain but the moisture and the temperature that tends to be lower. Therefore, your dog could become cold and develop hypothermia if out in this type of weather for too long.
This type of weather can potentially weaken a dog’s immune system and could make them susceptible to respiratory infections or other illnesses. These are things to keep in mind when going on a walk in the rain.
Do Dogs Get Cold in Rain?
Yes, dogs can get cold in the rain. Some signs to notice with your dog are shivering, seeking to get out of the rain, not wanting to move along on the walk, a tucked tail, and not looking comfortable.
It is important to monitor your dog while out on a walk in the rain. Noticing any of the signs I mentioned above can help you to take action and keep your dog warm and dry by heading back to your house.
How Long Can Dogs Be in the Rain?
Depending on the type of rain, as well as if there is wind while out on a walk, I would stick with a walk of about 10 – 15 minutes.
There are some breeds for example golden retrievers and huskies that have coats that can repel water but it is still not a good idea to expose them to a long period of weather like rain. Helping them to stay comfortable and healthy means a shorter duration outside in the rain.
Does Rain Make Dogs Sleepy?
The rain itself may not make your dog sleepy, but your dog may find the rain soothing. However, other dogs may feel anxious, stressed out, and uncomfortable with the rain which will then affect their sleep routine. If he/she cannot settle down then going to sleep may be delayed.
Final Thoughts on Walking A Dog in the Rain: Yes or No?
Walking a dog in the rain can be a daunting experience. However, the rewards far outweigh the pain. Walking your dog in the rain not only gives your dog much-needed exercise, but also different sensory experiences that enrich his/her life.
Being prepared before, during, and after your walk can make walking your dog in the rain that much easier, while keeping you and your dog safe.
Keeping it simple and being prepared when walking your dog in the rain will alleviate your stress and make the mess more manageable for you, your dog, and your house. If you are looking for more things to have with you when walking your dog, then my free Dog Walk Supplies Checklist will be very helpful.
Having the right items on a walk can set you and your dog up to have better walks because you’re more prepared and that can make a huge difference. Here is the link to grab this free resource.