As Alfred Wainwright, the author of A Coast to Coast Walk, once said, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. But what about your dog? Should you still be dog walking when the weather is wet?
Not only does a daily outing provide physical exercise, but it also gives your dog much-needed mental stimulation too. So here are our tips for walking dogs in rain.
Walking in the Rain
While taking a stroll in wet weather is not as pleasant as an amble in glorious sunshine, you shouldn’t skip on dog walks.
Of course, there are many different types of rain. If you live in a frequently wet country, you begin to categorize rain into what is and what isn’t suitable dog walking weather. From a very light drizzle that barely wets your hair to torrential downpours that could substitute for a good shower, wet weather doesn’t have to be a barrier to walk your dog.
Many dogs aren’t bothered by rain and walk happily in all but the heaviest deluge.
Help my dog is rain shy
Of course, not every dog is happy to get wet. Just like us, our dogs vary as to how they feel about the weather. Cold, damp days with strong winds are likely to be as unpleasant for our dogs as they are for us.
Also, while we can shield ourselves with waterproof clothing, our dogs only have their coats for protection. For double-coated dogs like Labradors, huskies, and german shepherds, rain poses less of an issue than for single coated dogs or dogs with hair rather than fur like the Yorkshire terrier. This is because a double coat offers an extra layer of protection and warmth. In contrast, single-coated dogs have a similar experience to us when our heads get wet.
If your dog is rain shy, here are a few tips to get your dog comfortable in wet weather;
Consider the type of coat they have
If your dog does have a single coat or hair rather than fur, think about whether they would benefit from a raincoat. There are so many options available for small and large dogs, all with varying degrees of protection, that there’s bound to be one suitable. If your dog likes to keep their feet dry, you can also grab some rain boots too.
Walking your dog in the rain won’t be fun for either of you if your dog hates getting wet. Why not shorten your route and play some indoor games instead?
Drizzle or downpour
You’ll have much more success desensitizing your dog to a rainy day if you take your dog outdoors in drizzly weather rather than in a torrential downpour. Use lots of praise, fun games, and treats to make the walk as fun as possible and keep dog walks short.
Walking a dog in the rain
Even if your dog is happy to get wet, there are a few things to think about if you’re going for a walk in the rain.
Of course, one of the most important aspects of walking in the rain is to make sure that you have waterproof clothing. Don’t rely on an umbrella to keep you dry. Not only do umbrellas present a hazard when dog walking, but they are also useless in anything other than a light wind.
The minimum gear to keep you dry is a waterproof jacket, trousers, and footwear. But when the weather is both wet and cold, hats, gloves, and scarves are handy.
Our top tips for walking dogs in the rain are;
Get towels ready before you go out. That way, you can protect floors and furniture from getting muddy and wet when you let your dog back in the house.
If rainfall is light to medium, choose a sheltered dog walk. Tree-lined routes offer protection from the worst weather, although steer clear of them if the weather is stormy or very windy.
It’s worth investing in a high visibility jacket or at least reflective patches. Heavy rain can reduce visibility dramatically, so keep both you and your dog safe with a little extra bling.
Avoid busy roads
Busy roads present two main problems. The first is the splashback. As traffic drives through puddles, the water gets displaced and inevitably hits you and your dog. Even dogs that love water are not keen on having a lot of water chucked over them.
The second issue is the noise. Roads sound very different on dry and wet days. If your dog is at all noise-sensitive, keep them away from busy streets on wet days as the change in sound and volume can make them nervous.
Dry your dog thoroughly
Pay particular attention to your dog’s paws. Constantly wet paws can create symptoms not dissimilar to athlete’s foot in humans and can be difficult to clear up. If your dog doesn’t object, you can use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to finish drying them, which is especially useful for pets with long hair.
Always start with a towel first to soak up the majority of the water. It’s a good idea to put a couple of towels in your car if you drive your dog to the start of their walk so you can keep your dog warm on the journey home.
Wet dog smell
Unfortunately, one of the less pleasant aspects of walking your dog in the rain is the wet-dog smell that follows you home. No matter how much you love your dog, the not so fragrant odor as they dry is horrible. Some breeds are more prone to this doggy smell than others. But nearly all dogs suffer to some degree as they dry off from a rainy walk.
So, what causes this aroma, and is there anything you can do about it? Our dogs naturally carry yeasts and bacteria in their skin and coats, just as we do on our skin. This complex environment creates organic compounds that evaporate as your dog dries, creating the familiar doggy scent.
The only way to eliminate the smell is never to let your dog get wet! It’s completely natural, and while not the best odor in the world, it does mean that your dog’s coat and skin are healthy and have an effective microsystem.
Once your dog is dry, the smell disappears, and the familiar scent of your dog comes back. If your dog remains smelly once they are dry, it may need a bath!
Walking dogs in rain roundup
With a little preparation and some proper waterproof clothing. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be walking your dog in the rain. In fact, many dogs enjoy a stroll when it’s raining. Rain disturbs scents in the environment and adds interest to your dog’s daily walks.
If you have a dog that isn’t keen on wet weather, wait for a drizzle and take them out for a fun, treat-filled walk. This way, they will begin to associate getting wet with good things. You can also try getting your dog to wear dog boots and a raincoat, so they are protected from the worse of the elements.
Although exercise is essential for dogs, your dog won’t suffer if the weather is extreme if they miss an odd walk here and there, so don’t make your dog walk in the rain if they find it distressing. But if your dog is happy to go walking in the rain, embrace your inner child and go and splash in the puddles.