When a rain-filled weather report interrupts your dog’s regular exercise and bathroom break routine, simple things become immensely more complicated. You prepare for pee stains on the carpet, stinky surprises in the hallway, and a rambunctious pet with too much energy for indoor activities.
Refusing to go outside in the rain is common in dogs. Think about it, you don’t like getting soaked by the rain, and your dog is no different. They’re used to the good life of memory-foam dog beds and a bin full of toys, and being forced into the damp outdoors isn’t something they take lightly. Unfortunately, staying inside every time it rains isn’t an option. You need to get your dog outside to do their business and run off energy, and here are a few tips on how to make them more comfortable with getting wet.
1. Lead by being a good example.
Dogs get a lot of their personality quirks from their humans. If you hate the rain and yell out or act otherwise startled or uncomfortable when it starts raining, your dog will follow your lead. They’ll see how much you hate getting wet, and in their head, that means they should hate it too.
To avoid this problem, do your best to act completely normal in the rain. If you and your pup are out walking and you get caught under a rain cloud, don’t react. Continue walking normally like nothing is wrong. Seeing that you’re not worried about the weather will help your dog stay calm too.
2. Help them get used to water.
One of the main reasons why dogs end up not liking rain is that they grow up being perfectly dry and content. Besides baths, your dog probably spent their puppyhood rarely ever getting wet. As they get older, being soaked by water falling from the sky is a new and frightening feeling. You can help them out and make sure they’re mentally prepared for the inevitability of getting rained on by teaching them that water can be a good thing.
Start by introducing them to water during playtime. A hose, sprinkler, kiddie pool, lake, or lazy stream are all great for introducing a dog to water-related fun. Don’t force them to get wet, but encourage them by joining in yourself and making the activity look extra fun. You can also get them used to stepping on wet grass by wetting the lawn with a hose and then feeding them outside. Also try playing their favorite game, like fetch or tug, on wet grass. You want them to start associating water with all their favorite things.
3. Join them outside with all the right coverage.
Locking your dog outside in the rain until you see them lift a leg or squat down is cruel, and it usually doesn’t work. They’re too focused on hating the rain to think about going to the bathroom or exercising. You’ll still end up with indoor accidents later on in the day, and your dog will be even more unlikely to go out in the rain the next time.
A better method is to grab your biggest umbrella and head out the door with your dog. For one reason or another, dogs are more likely to go to the bathroom when they’re out walking with their owners. Cover them with your umbrella as much as you can and take them for a quick spin around the neighborhood. Some dogs also feel best when wearing a doggy raincoat or booties when it’s wet. It most likely won’t take them long to do their business, and then you can quickly head back home.
4. Use positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement training is all about rewarding your dog for all the good things they do. When they follow you outside into the rain and go on a walk or to the bathroom, reinforce the behavior by making them feel like they’re the best dog in the world. Offer them high-value treats as soon as they do what you want and shower them with pets and praise. Soon they’ll start caring more about the reward than they do about the rain.
It might also help to tempt your hesitant dog outside with a treat or a favorite toy. What you don’t want to do is make their experience in the rain more traumatic than it already is. Scolding them or getting angry when they refuse to go outside will only convince them that rain is a bad thing and worth avoiding. Your goal is to show them that rain is harmless.
5. Dry them off right away.
Have you ever had to sit around in wet clothes after getting caught in a summer rain storm? It’s pretty miserable, and having to walk around with wet fur isn’t much better. For some dogs, it’s not the actual rain they don’t like; it’s the feeling of being soaking wet. An umbrella or rain jacket will help with that while you’re outside, and you can also minimize your dog’s discomfort by drying them off as soon as they’re back inside.
A good thing to do is to keep a towel near the door on rainy days. Every time your dog comes inside from getting rained on, take a few seconds to rub them dry. Remember to get their paws, ears, and tail. Once they start catching on to the routine, they’ll stop relating rain with being uncomfortable and wet.
Every day can’t be sunny and warm, and helping your dog feel confident and comfortable with the rain will make both your lives a lot less stressful. Be patient, understanding, and supportive while showing your dog that getting wet isn’t a big deal. It’ll take several rainy days to get them fully used to it, but don’t give up.