Why It’s Okay To Walk Your Dog In The Rain (How To Do It)

dog and couple safely walking their dog in the rain

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As dog owners, there will come a day when our beloved pups will need to use the bathroom at a time when it’s not very convenient or comfortable for us. And as responsible, loving dog owners we will push aside our own comforts and take our dogs outside to do their business. This frequently means having to take our pups out in the rain, whether that be a drizzle or a downpour.

But should we even be walking our dogs out in the rain?

It is generally safe and even necessary to walk our dogs out in the rain. Provided your dog is healthy, doesn’t mind the cold weather and you are mindful of the intensity of the rain then it is perfectly safe to take your dog out while it’s raining. Still, always avoid lightning. 

While we may not always want to go out in the cold rain, it’s important to allow our dogs to go out and do their business or provide them with appropriate exercise and mental enrichment.

Below we’ll go over some of the benefits and reasons it’s a good idea to take your dog out in the rain, and when it’s NOT a good idea to take your dog out in the rain. We’ll also look at what you need to consider before taking your pup out in the rain, how to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable while out in the rain, and how to train your dog to walk out in the rain.

3 Reasons Why It’s A Good Idea To Walk Your Dog In The Rain

Aside from the fact that rainstorms are a part of life and your pup will need to go out for a walk in one at some point in their life, there are a few additional reasons as to why it’s a good idea to take your dog for a walk in the rain.

Reason #1: Allows Them To Go Potty

Unless you have a yard or an area in which you can safely let your pup loose to do their business while you stay in the comfort of your home, it’s unavoidable that you’ll have to walk your dog at some point while it’s raining to allow them the opportunity to relieve themselves.

If you’ve got your dog on a good potty schedule, their bathroom habits will usually occur like clockwork and once that time hits, you’ll have to take them out for a walk, even if it’s raining.

While some dogs will choose to hold it for as long as they can when it’s raining, it’s unwise and unethical to force our dogs to hold their pee and poop for extended periods of times, just to avoid walking them in the rain. And could lead to crate training regression or even could potentially lead to a health issue.

So if your normal “potty time” rolls around and you find that it’s raining, it’s still important to take your pup out for a walk.

Reason #2: It’s Beneficial For Training

For puppies and young adolescent dogs, being exposed to different things is part of a critical period of development for them: the socialization period! During this time, it’s important to properly and safely expose your pup to different sights, sounds, smells, and other things that engage their senses.

The things you do (or don’t do) during this prime period of mental and physical development can have lifelong impacts and helps shape who your pup is.

Walking your dog in the rain is important because it is fun and helps with training young dogs who are still learning about the world around them and helps them understand that the rain (and subsequent thunder, wind, and lightning) is not scary.

Even for adult and senior dogs, a walk in the rain can be something “different” and exciting and allows them to engage with their senses in a different manner.

Reason #3: It’s Mentally Enriching

A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than a person’s sense of smell, and scent can travel differently depending on the weather, temperature, and what objects are located within the area.

During the rain, scent can be amplified, and previously “hidden” scents may appear, or a scent that a dog couldn’t smell previously is now available to them due to the change in humidity, wind, and moisture.

Walking your dog in the rain allows them the opportunity to engage with all of these “new” scents and can be mentally enriching for them.

Dogs do not just need physical exercise but require mental exercise as well. Walking your pup in the rain is a great way to get both at the same time!

3 Times You SHOULDN’T Walk Your Dog In The Rain

There are certain times where it would probably be safer for you and your pup to wait out the rain, or find an alternative to taking your usual walk while it’s raining.

1. Your Dog Is Sick.

If your dog is showing signs of illness or injury, you should instead make other arrangements to take them outside when it is raining. If it’s just a small drizzle of rain and it is otherwise fairly warm, then it’s probably safe to take your pup out for short periods of time.

But if the rain is heavier or it is accompanied by wind and cold, you may have to take additional precautions for your dog to go outside if they are ill. Just as you wouldn’t expose your pup to hot temperatures (even if it’s indoors) you need to keep them safe from cold too. Utilizing a potty patch, pee pads, or a covered patio or balcony to allow your dog to do their business in the rain are possible options.

If you must take your pup out in the rain, you can also make sure they stay comfortable and don’t exacerbate their illness or injury by providing them with a sweater, waterproof jacket, or other covering to keep them warm while they walk.

Making sure you are only out for a short period of time and that you dry them thoroughly upon returning home will also help.

2. Your Dog Is Very Young Or Very Old.

Both very young puppies and very old dogs tend to be more prone to getting sick.

If you have a young puppy (think less than six months or so) or you have a senior dog (especially one who may be suffering from arthritis or other bone and joint conditions), it may be wise to wait out the rain if possible.

Young puppies should be exposed to various weather patterns and conditions, but you can do so safely and don’t have to force your pup to walk in a heavy downpour.

Keeping your walks short and making sure your puppy or elderly friend are warm and comfortable are important in keeping them safe if you must take them out during heavier or colder rains.

3. It Is Unsafe.

Heavy downpours, hail, high winds, extreme temperatures, and lightning are all things to be aware of before taking your pup outside. If any (or all) of those things are present, it’s probably safest to find an alternative.

Healthy adult dogs can hold it for several hours, and young puppies can be offered pee pads or a potty patch temporarily until the storm has passed. If you have access to a covered patio or driveway, that’s another option rather than risking you and your dog’s safety walking in the storm.

How Do I Make Sure My Dog Is Comfortable While Walking In The Rain?

Depending on your dog, you may need to do some additional things to prepare them to walk safely in the rain.

If you have a thin-skinned dog, an older dog, or a dog who just does not enjoy going out in the rain that much, you might look into getting them a sweater or rain jacket to help keep them dry and warm.

If you live in an urban environment, you might also pick up some rain boots that can help protect your pup’s paws from coming into contact with anything harmful.

Making sure both you and your pup are visible to passersby (especially vehicles) is also important, so a reflective coat, collar, or leash is also a must.

Having a towel or pet shammy at home is also a great idea so you can easily dry your pup off as soon as you walk in the door. A quality umbrella or rain jacket for yourself is also a good idea!

How Do I Train My Dog To Walk In The Rain?

Even if your dog has good leash walking skills during good weather, they might have to have some training to walk politely in poor weather.

Some dogs may not want to walk in the rain because they don’t want to be out in the cold, so providing them with a sweater or something to keep them warm while walking will help.

For a dog who has a fear of walking the rain, or who is afraid of thunder, you might have to do some additional work to help your dog overcome their fears.

A reputable dog trainer can help you figure out what will work best for your pup, and no matter what using positive reinforcement and reward-based training to encourage your pup to walk in the rain will help lead to a successful outing.

Is It Bad If My Dog Doesn’t Want To Walk In The Rain?

If your dog simply does not like walking in the rain, that’s totally OK! You don’t ever want to force your dog into doing something that they truly find uncomfortable or fear-inducing.

Training and behavior modification can help with these issues, but in the meantime, you can also look at other alternatives while you are working with a trainer to help your pup learn to walk out in the rain.

Potty patches and pee pads are a good alternative if you live somewhere without access to a backyard, though they should not be relied upon forever as they can potentially impact a dog’s overall house training.

Erecting some kind of coverage within your backyard to provide a sheltered spot for your pup to potty is another option (albeit a potentially expensive and permanent option). In fact, if your dog has the option to come and go as they please in the rain, you may find that they actually enjoy staying out in the rain!

If your dog is willing to go outside in the rain, but not willing to go on their regular walk, just walking them to the end of the drive or through your front yard to allow them to quickly do their business might be enough.

If your dog’s main source of physical and mental activity is through their daily walks and the rain impedes this, you can also look at indoor activities that can help tire them out and provide enrichment.

Puzzle toys, snuffle mats, and even just a good game of tug of war with your pup can help alleviate that rainy day boredom.

What Else Do I Need To Consider Before Walking My Dog In The Rain?

While we should always make sure our four-legged friends are taken care of, there may be times where it’s not safe for YOU to walk to your pup in the rain.

If you are ill, injured, or you are older or suffering from an underlying medical condition, you might have to postpone your walk with your dog until the rain lets up.

Alternatively, you can also look into hiring a dog walker to take your pup for a walk during poor weather conditions if it is not safe for you to do so yourself.

It might just be that you and your pup would be better off taking a snooze until the rain lets up!

Closing Thoughts

Some dogs may enjoy going for a walk in the rain, and others not so much.

No matter what, it’s an important part of our responsibility as pet owners to give our pups the option to take a walk in the rain to do their business or provide them with physical and mental enrichment.

We can take steps to make sure everyone is safe, comfortable, and warm while walking in the rain, but it is a necessary part of making sure our four-legged friends are taken care of, even in the nastiest of weather!