Walking a Dog in the Rain? Keep Your Dog Safe and Happy During the Wet Season

Written by: Lindsay Giguiere



Time to read 4 min

Walking a dog is beneficial, even in less-than-ideal weather, for several reasons:

  • Physical Exercise: Regular walks maintain your dog's physical health, aiding in weight control and muscle tone.

  • Mental Stimulation: Exploring the environment, even in rain or snow, provides mental stimulation. Dogs explore the world through scents and sights, which change with the weather.

  • Behavioral Health: Consistent walking helps reduce behavioral issues like anxiety and destructiveness.

  • Bonding Time: Walks strengthen the bond between you and your dog, as they rely on you for guidance and protection.

  • Routine Maintenance: Dogs thrive on routine, and maintaining regular walks, regardless of weather, reinforces a sense of security and predictability.

  • Health Benefits for Owners: Walking benefits your health as well, offering exercise and stress relief.

  • Socialization: Regular walks, even in different weather conditions, help socialize dogs, making them more adaptable and less fearful.

Walking a dog is crucial, rain or shine. But when the clouds gather, it can be tricky. Over half of dog owners say their pets dislike or hate rain. Only 16% somewhat like it, and 15% love it​​. Despite this, walks in the wet weather are essential. Here’s how to ensure these walks are safe and enjoyable.

Understanding Your Dog’s Rain Perception

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Dogs sense the world differently. Rain amplifies sounds and scents, which can overwhelm them. The noise of rain can cause nervousness or even ear pain. They might associate rain with thunder from past experiences, making them anxious. Some dogs are even thought to detect changes in air pressure and electricity, predicting bad weather​​. Therefore, it's crucial to be sensitive to these factors when planning a rainy walk.

The Right Time and Place Matter

Timing is key. Try to walk at the beginning or end of a rainstorm. A torrential downpour isn’t ideal for anyone. If it's a light summer rain, you can enjoy your regular walk. Adjust your plan according to the intensity of the rain​​. Also, avoid busy streets and traffic. They add stress and the risk of splashing puddles. A quiet, peaceful path is preferable.

Dog Comfort and Health Considerations

A raincoat for your dog is more than a fashion statement. It keeps them dry and comfortable. Raincoats offer protection from cold and wind, preventing sickness and skin irritation. Choose a coat that covers your dog’s body adequately. Remember, a dog with a thin coat will get wet quicker than one with a thicker coat​​​​.

Older dogs, puppies, and those with weaker immune systems are more vulnerable in wet weather. Pathogens in stagnant water can cause illnesses like leptospirosis and giardia. Always ensure your dog's vaccinations are up-to-date​​.

While we are on the subject, here’s the basic vaccination schedule for a regular dog:

The basic vaccination schedule for dogs is crucial for their health and protection against various diseases. The schedule and types of vaccines may vary depending on your dog’s specific needs and the area you live in. Here is a general guideline:

  • 6 — 8 weeks: Distemper, Parvovirus. Optional: Bordetella.

  • 10 — 12 weeks: DHPP (vaccines for Distemper, Adenovirus [Hepatitis], Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus).

  • Optional: Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease.

  • 16 — 18 weeks: DHPP, Rabies. Optional: Influenza, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis, Bordetella.

  • 12 — 16 months: DHPP, Rabies. Optional: Coronavirus,
  •  Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease.

  • Every 1 — 2 years: DHPP. Optional: Influenza, Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease.

  • Every 1 — 3 years: Rabies (as required by law)​​.
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Respecting Your Dog’s Preferences

Not all dogs enjoy rain. If your dog hates it, don’t force them. Play indoors or let them run in the garden. If you lack outdoor space, use indoor toilet pads for potty breaks, though this might require some training. In some cases, finding a covered area for a quick walk may be necessary​​.

Identifying discomfort or pain in dogs during walks, especially in rainy conditions, can be challenging. However, typical signs of discomfort or pain in dogs, which can also apply in rainy conditions, include:

  • Vocalizing: Whining, whimpering, howling, groaning, and grunting.

  • Reduced Activity Level: Reluctance to walk or play, restlessness, shaking, and trembling.

  • Compulsive Licking or Chewing: Licking, biting, or scratching at specific body parts.

  • Uncharacteristic Aggression: Displaying aggression or, conversely, unusual docility.

  • Abnormal Facial Expression and Posture: Flattened ears, grimacing, dilated pupils, hunched posture, tail tucked, excessive panting​​.

During rainy walks, dogs might also show reluctance to step outside, attempt to avoid puddles or wet surfaces, or seem eager to return home. If you observe any of these signs, it's important to consider the comfort and well-being of your dog and make adjustments to your walking routine accordingly.

Training for Rainy Walks

You can train your dog to be more comfortable in the rain. Use praise and treats during short intervals in the rain. Gradually increase the time spent outside. Over time, your dog will associate rainy walks with positive experiences. Consider dog ear muffs for noise sensitivity and raincoats or booties to keep them dry​​.

How Long Should You Walk Your Dog?

Ideal daily walking times for dogs vary depending on their size, breed, and age. Generally:

  • Small Breeds: Dogs like Chihuahuas or Dachshunds often require shorter walks, typically around 20 to 30 minutes a day. However, they may enjoy multiple shorter walks.
  • Medium Breeds: Breeds such as Beagles or Bulldogs usually benefit from walks lasting 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Large Breeds: Larger breeds like Labradors or Golden Retrievers often need longer and more vigorous walks, usually around 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Giant Breeds: Giant breeds like Great Danes may require up to an hour of walking, but due to their size, the pace might be slower to prevent joint stress.

Remember, these are general guidelines. Individual needs can vary greatly based on the dog's health, age, and energy level. Always consult with a veterinarian to determine the best exercise regimen for your specific dog.

Walking a Dog During Rainy Season - Conclusion

Walking your dog in the rain requires understanding and preparation. With the right gear and approach, you can turn a potentially unpleasant experience into an enjoyable one. Remember, every dog is unique. Their comfort and safety should always be your top priority.