Have you got a pup that takes one look out the window, sees the raining falling, and decides, “Nope, you go for a walk, I’ll stay here!”
You’re not the only one!
A lot of dogs actually really don’t like being outside in the wet and will do everything in their power (from hiding, to unleashing those devastating sad eyed stares) to prevent you from making them leave the house.
Then there are those that are completely the opposite – rain or shine, they’re going to do what they want, go where they want, and there’s not much you can do to stop them (or at least that’s what they seem to think).
But why do dogs have such polarised responses to wet weather? Is it a breed thing? Is it a personality thing? Or is it something that we haven’t been able to define yet?
Dogs are Actually More Sensitive to Environmental Changes
You’re probably aware that dogs’ senses, when compared to humans, are significantly more developed – they can see further, smell more, and hear things far beyond our range; but this isn’t the only thing they do.
Barometric pressure (the change in air pressure) actually can affect the tissue of your dog’s body – when the pressure drops, your dog’s tissues expand – not enough to cause them pain or be life-threatening, but it can make them uncomfortable (if you’ve ever had a previously broken bone that gets tender or a joint that gets swollen in damp or cold weather, you’ll totally understand how this feels).
The unexpected (and unwelcome) change in pressure can make the dogs feel out of sorts, not just because of any physical discomfort (which may especially affect their ears), but also because it’s something different and they don’t like it!
It’s not just a physical thing either – some dogs have phobias around inclement weather (especially thunderstorms), these may stem from puppyhood traumas, previous bad experiences, learned behaviours, etc.
The problem here is that if you make too big of a deal about the weather, or over-praise your dog for doing something, they will consider their actions and yours to be normal, which in some cases can make the behaviour even worse – for example, if you coddle your dog and make a big deal about a thunderstorm, drawing lots of attention to what they’re supposed to be frightened of, whether they were initially scared or not, they will learn that they should be afraid.
This doesn’t mean ignoring your dog, or their distress – not at all. But it does mean you should think carefully about how your dog reacts, and what behaviour-modifying training techniques will work best. This could be something as simple as providing a comforting and secure space, such as a Pop Up Dog Tent, where they can retreat into an enclosed, safe space.
How Do You Encourage a Reluctant Dog to Go Out in the Rain?
Some dogs are very stubborn, and will require a lot of patience and effort (having some delightful bite-sized treats on hand wouldn’t hurt either).
Some techniques you can try, that often prove to be effective with dog training, include:
- Lead by Example
If you want your dog to go outside, go with them! Dogs are pack animals and you are their Alpha – so if they see you going outside, they will be more inclined to follow.
- Get Them Used to Water
Some dogs grow up without being introduced to water properly (other than for drinking) – so they see things like bath time and rain as being traumatic. Get them used to water, perhaps with sprinklers or a garden hose (not operating at full power). When you’re playing fetch, if there are puddles around (and your chosen toy is waterproof), throw the toy towards the water.
By introducing water as something they don’t need to worry about, and isn’t frightening, they will be less bothered by rain.
- Be Positive and Kind
No one likes doing things they don’t want to do, human or dog. By providing praise and positive reinforcement when your dog goes out in the wet, you’re letting them know that it’s a good thing – which will make it easier for them to handle!Obviously, if they struggle with going out and about in the rain, it’s going to be difficult to praise their actions, but it’s still important to be positive, and highlight the elements that they did well – if they step outside without a fuss, tell them they’re good! If they get back and wait to be dried off, that’s great – tell them! Little milestones and successes add up to long term results!
- Don’t Let Them Stay Wet
Regardless of your dog’s coat, and how waterproof it is (some short haired breeds are much less suspectable to getting wet than others), you’ll want to make sure you dry your pup off as soon as possible.
How your dog reacts to drying methods is important – if they’re scared of the hairdryer, then you might not want to use it until they’re happier going out in the rain (they’re not going to want to go out if it feels like they’re being punished when they get back!), and if they love a rough towel, have a nice dry one waiting!This process is important for three reasons, firstly – you don’t want your dog to get sick, and wandering around soaking wet and getting cold is not good for them! Secondly, you’re having a bonding session, where you’re devoting your attention to your dog, and building up trust. Thirdly – wet dogs and furniture don’t go well!
How Can You Help Keep Your Dog Dry on a Walk?
In order to give your dog a great walking experience, or more confidence to go out in the garden when it’s wet, you should look at getting a wonderfully waterproof raincoat for your dog! Getting the right fit not only keeps them warm and dry, but can also make them more visible, which is especially useful on gloomy days!
So with a little time, treats, efforts, and the right accessories – you can help your dog, and make rainy days less of a big deal.