Whether your dog loves or hates the rain, universally, it is found that dogs respond differently.
Just like humans, dogs have mixed emotions when it comes to rain. Questions are often thrown around. Is my dog scared of the rain? Does my dog love the rain? Are rainy walks bad for my dog? Does my dog just want to be cuddled with a book in front of the fire, watching the rain? Or would they prefer to jump in a puddle and leave muddy footprints throughout the house?
There is a plethora of information on the internet, in the puppy library and in journals analysing the psychology behind animal weather reactions. However, as here in many areas of Australia we have been seeing too much rain, we thought we would break down some FAQs on what's probably going through your doggo's head when there's rain bucketing down outside!
So, does my dog like the rain?
Most humans don't want to go outside and get wet, and your dog will most likely feel the same. We get uncomfortable, cold, and sometimes miserable, and dogs don't even have umbrellas to keep them dry! However, there is not a universal opinion in the pups of the world...have you heard some of the debates they have at the dog park?
Is it safe for my pup to be in the rain?
Most doggy owners' concern is whether or not it is safe for their pup to be in the rain. This question is not a "yes" or "no" and depends on your dog's situation. Although many dogs don't like the rain, it does not mean it is bad for them. A pitter-patter won't hurt your pup and can occasionally be beneficial. However, there are still factors to consider:
- Do not leave your dog outside for prolonged periods. Think about it…just like us humans, if we stand out in the rain is detrimental to our health, but if it is just for a moderate time, most people will be fine.
- Healthy pups will generally be fine, but older dogs and those with weaker immune systems should exercise caution.
- Watching out for those muddy puddles that may harbour some nasty bacteria.
Does the sound of rain affect my dog?
We all agree our dogs are amazing not only in personality wise but also in their capabilities. Dogs can hear things four times stronger than the frequencies we can hear. In most circumstances, we may look at this as a "supawpower"; however, heavy rain or a thunderstorm means the sound will be much more overbearing. With their sensitive ears, while they can hear dinner being served from the other room – thunderstorm sounds may be overwhelming. In fact, a study conducted by Penn State found that about 30% of dogs are afraid of thunderstorms.
Evidently, this sensitive hearing may not apply to "drizzle", perhaps it is even soothing! Heavy rain is a different story and can make dogs anxious and restless.
Determining if the sound of rain is distressing your dog and resulting in them seeking comfort can easily be picked up if they are pacing, barking, panting, hiding or shivering.
Should I take my pup outside when it's pouring?
It's a tricky question, but essentially walks are an important part of responsible dog ownership and are needed to keep your dog's health in check and ensure they are not becoming frustrated or upset. However, as you may have realised looking out of the window, weather can be one of the dog owner's greatest foes, and when torrential rain strikes, you are probably questioning whether it is worth getting wet.
- Shorten the duration of the walk
- Try to stay away from puddles (this can be tricky)
- Dress them in a doggy coat (see below)
- Make sure to warm your dog immediately after the walk – a quick rub down will do the trick!
Aside from Labradors and a few other breeds, most dogs are happier dry, and the rain isn’t an ideal walking climate. Even though breeds require different levels of exercise, in most cases, daily walks keep your doggo emotionally, mentally, and physically stimulated. As this rain constantly delays your dog’s routine, it may cause confusion.
But does my dog actually like walking in the rain?
Some dogs love walking so much that they barely notice the weather, while others have severe issues relieving themselves when the sky opens. You will know which category your pup falls under! However, no matter what your pup prefers, a short walk has the potential to get their digestive system moving no matter the weather.
Therefore, it is best to not skip those rainy-day walks. Remember, you can make your doggy walks fun! Give their heads a rub to help them create a more positive association with the wet weather. If you continue to follow your regular walking routine, it will demonstrate to your doggo that a short wander around the block is no big deal!
Does the smell of rain effect my dog?
Like their hearing, our dogs’ noses are much more potent than ours. The part of a dog’s brain that analyses smell is about 40 times larger than ours (does this mean they are smarter as well…makes sense). Our dogs’ sense of smell is so powerful that it amplifies in the rain as moisture amplifies scent. In fact, they can even smell rain in the air before it starts pouring (so clear up your phone space by deleting the weather app). To get all scientific, basically, dogs scent molecules make the smell longer and last for an extensive period.
Most people have one mood in the rain: wrapped in a blanket with some relaxing tv on. Your dog mirrors your emotional level; therefore, you might also find your pup lethargic (in fact, they’re probably cuddled under that blanket). Their canine senses pick up your lack of energy, making them look less enthusiastic! If this is the case, you are not alone. About 40% of dog owners noticed a downturn in pooch’s energy during rain seasons, and 50% said their dogs slept longer.
How can I help?
Some dogs will never be happy with the rain, however, there are things you can do to make it more tolerable for them.
Training younger dogs
If you have a young pup, include rain comfort in their initial training basics. This will help them to skip the steps of coping with it later.
- Introduce your dog to water slowly
- Starting baths at a young age will help a dog become more comfortable with water.
- Start taking you dog out in the rain whether they need to go to the bathroom or not
- Let them get used to the sound of the rain and feel of wet grass, letting them smell everything. While they are doing this talk softly and soothingly to your dog, using encouraging words.
Training fully grown dogs
It is best to introduce your dog to rain from an early age so they are aware of it and understand that sometimes it will be raining when they go outside. However, if your dog is past this stage of life there are still things you can do to familiarise themselves with it!
- Start by getting them to experience rain in the safety of your backyard/familiar outdoor space before venturing out on a walk
- Coax them outside with treats and toys
- Start by doing short rain walks, and then increase the length of time on each walk until they are completely happy.
If your dog is not comfortable in the rain it is best not to leave them home alone for prolonged periods of times – if it will be longer than certain time may be worth booking a pet sitter or day care.