How to Convince Your Dog to Like the Rain

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on March 20th, 2023

Across our home state of Washington, we get a range of rain, sleet, snow, and whatever else the sky wants to throw at us. And, while non-dog owners may be able to spend the chilly days bundled up by the fireplace, those of us with dogs have to go out at least a few times per day. That’s infinitely harder when our furry friend refuses to step out in bad weather.

In this article, we’ll share some clever ways to convince your pup to go outside no matter the forecast. Because the sooner you can coax them outside, the sooner you can get back to cuddling on the couch!

If possible, teach them young
If you have an older dog, don’t worry. It’s still possible to teach your furry friend to like the rain and snow. Simply skip to the next steps.

If, on the other hand, you have a wrinkly pup, consider yourself lucky. You still have a chance to give them a good first impression! You can do so by exposing them to water in a positive light as much as possible. Get them accustomed to taking baths and playing in the bathtub or outside with the hose from a young age. When potty training, seek out areas with dewy grass so that they don’t develop an aversion to having wet paws.

Invest in the right gear
Those of us that live in rainy areas likely have a good pair of rainboots, a waterproof outer shell, and a durable umbrella. Your dog might also benefit from a few staple pieces of their own.

For one thing, if you notice that your dog struggles to go potty in the rain, covering them with an umbrella may help. And for dogs that don’t mind wearing clothes, a rain jacket and booties can also be a good investment. Make sure that you introduce any new items of clothing when they’re relaxed. And remember that if your dog doesn’t adjust to wearing clothes, don’t force them. Any negative associations they form with the rain gear will make your outings more difficult.

Find a safe potty spot
Often, dogs have a hard time relaxing during a rain or snow storm because they feel unsafe. Their natural instinct is to seek shelter.

Walking them to an area with more coverage, such as a densely wooded walking trail or a dog park with shade awnings can help them feel protected.

Turn the weather into an adventure!
Another effective way to make your dog excited about rain and snow is to associate it with their favorite things. If it’s safe and accessible, you might take them to the places they go wild over, such as your local pet shop, dog friendly restaurant, or a fellow dog-owner’s house for a playdate. 

And if the rain or snow is light enough, you can drive with the windows down to give your pup more exposure to the elements while they’re safely inside. 

Make sure that your car windows are covered with BreezeGuard Screens so that they can take in all those lovely rain smells without sticking their head out the window.

Associate going outside in the rain with treats
You’ve probably braved some bad weather with the incentive of something you really wanted, like your favorite coffee or a fast food run. And your dog can be equally motivated to go outside for some tasty treats!

The key is to offer them something really special that they only get once in a while. This might be boiled chicken, cheese, or a high quality treat. You can feed them very small pieces when they venture outside with you, periodically while you’re walking, and before you enter the house.

Turn up the enthusiasm
Dogs are amazing at reading our body language, so you may need to do a little bit of acting, here. Turn up the enthusiasm as you get ready to go outside so that your dog feels excited.

When you’re outside, maintain this level of positivity. Play in the puddles with your pup. Throw up a few snowballs for them to catch. The more you can make the experience fun, the more you’ll both enjoy your outings in the future.

Don’t punish your pup for going in the house
While you’re working on raising your dog’s tolerance for going potty in bad weather, you might have a few accidents in the house. 

While frustrating, it’s important not to punish a dog for potty accidents. Doing so will increase their anxiety during storms and set you back in your training.

Instead, you’ll want to treat it just like standard potty training. If your dog starts showing signs that they’re about to go, interrupt them and bring them outside immediately. Give them plenty of praise and treats for doing their business outside. 

Consider going back to crate training basics
If you used crate training during your dog’s initial potty training, this is a good moment to bring it back. It will help you control potty accidents in the house, thus giving you more opportunities to provide positive, fun outings with your dog in the rain.

That being said, if your dog is not crate trained, the middle of a big storm is not the time to do it. Dogs that are already stressed will have a hard time adjusting to something new, like crate training. Instead, you might keep a closer eye on them or even leash them to you in the house so that you can prevent indoor accidents.

Before you know it, you and your dog might look forward to the next big storm!
Okay, okay, maybe you and your pooch may never truly enjoy frolicking around in the rain and snow. But, with this training process, you can at least ensure that your dog doesn’t dread going out in bad weather. Make sure that you stay consistent, have a positive attitude, and reward your pup for their effort.

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