Why Do Dogs Hate Walking in the Rain?

On pleasant sunny days, your canine companion happily trots outdoors for a walk, play, or do its business.

However, it’s a different story once the rain begins to fall, as he refuses to put a single paw out the door. Interestingly, an aversion to rain is relatively common in dogs.

Some dogs hate walking in the rain due to sound-induced anxiety, including noise from heavy rain and thunder.

A wet, cold, itchy coat may also cause an aversion to rain. Additionally, a dog that sees its human companions avoid rain may develop negative associations with precipitation. 

Of course, it’s not feasible to keep your furry friend indoors whenever it sprinkles, so responsible pet owners must help their dogs overcome a fear or aversion to rain.

This article dives into why a canine may be apprehensive about rain or water, in general. It also offers several tips to help dogs face their fears and finally enjoy one of nature’s most precious elements.

Dogs May Associate Rain With Thunderstorms or Loud Noises

While you may find the sound of heavy rain relaxing, a dog may find the noise overwhelming. Even the slightest pitter-patter of rain on the roof could trigger a dog’s anxiety, and once you open the door to let your dog out, the sound is amplified.

But what if it’s not the rain that’s triggering your canine companion? It could be thunder.

It’s entirely possible that your pet dog associates the two, believing that thunder isn’t far behind once the rain starts falling. This may be especially true if you live in an area that experiences frequent storms.

While it’s unlikely that dogs can sense an incoming storm, studies indicate that they can feel changes in barometric pressure. If your dog makes the connection between pressure changes and storms, it may show signs of panic or anxiety.

It’s interesting to note that sound phobia in canines is quite common. In fact, over 25% of dogs suffer from at least some level of sound-induced anxiety, and genetics may play a role.

According to a Penn State University study, many canines have genetic predispositions to certain behaviors, including anxiety. However, it’s also possible that your dog had a previous negative experience with water or loud noises.

NOTE – You might like to read this blog post we wrote about why dogs love snow so much.

A Wet Coat Is Uncomfortable for Dogs

In the wild, wolves adapted to avoid suffering from hypothermia due to adverse weather conditions. Gray wolves, in particular, depend on their dense undercoat, which provides insulation against cold air, while the shorter topcoat repels moisture.

Dogs also have protective coats and an instinctive drive to dry off quickly, which is why they shake off after walking in the rain or taking a bath. Sometimes, you might even notice your dog’s fur twitch as raindrops fall on its back.

Interestingly, this behavior is also displayed when a dog has fleas.

It’s believed to be a nerve response to remove an irritant. It likely feels itchy and uncomfortable, which most animals, including humans, try to avoid.

Of course, our domesticated friends aren’t much like wolves these days. They’re far more spoiled. They sit indoors most of the time, indulging in the warmth and dryness of a comfortable home. Therefore, when forced to choose between a safe house or venturing out into the elements, a domestic dog will typically choose the former.

This is especially true for dogs that have rarely been exposed to water. If your dog isn’t familiar with it, the experience is probably quite frightening and uncomfortable. Therefore, early exposure is vital if you want your dog to become comfortable with this precious element.

You can teach a dog to interact with water early on using the following:

  • Swimming pool
  • Rain puddles
  • Shallow creek beds
  • Sprinklers

If your dog is already an adult, it may take longer to acclimate it to water and loud noises. Later, this article goes more in-depth about getting a dog used to the rain.

NOTE – Check out this blog post we wrote if you are interested in reading about why dogs like to walk so much.

Dogs Follow Their Human’s Lead

The domestication of dogs began nearly 40,000 years ago. As such, humans have spent centuries with these canine companions. So naturally, dogs have evolved to read human facial expressions and even react to situations of human joy or pain.

With that said, it makes total sense that canines notice when we’re upset or disappointed. Therefore, if you dislike getting wet or walking in the rain and show an obvious aversion to it in your dog’s presence, it’ll notice, and it’ll think it’s something it should avoid, too.

How To Help a Dog Get Used to the Rain

Getting a dog used to the rain requires time, consistency, and positive reinforcement, but it will not happen overnight. You must create a schedule and stick with it.

Below are several ways to help your dog overcome its fear:

  • Protect your dog: If your dog seems uncomfortable when walking in the rain, consider investing in dog rain gear. There are canine rain jackets, hats, and booties available in different sizes. I recommend the HDE Dog Raincoat from Amazon. The waterproof jacket is available in multiple sizes and colors. Alternatively, you could invest in a large umbrella to protect both of you on your journey.
  • Desensitize your pet: With consistency and positive reinforcement, desensitization training should make a difference within weeks. Work in small steps, and start by rewarding your dog for going outdoors while a sprinkler runs nearby. For noise desensitization, play rain sounds on your phone while you praise your pup with affection and treats.
  • Show your dog that rain is fun: When it rains, don’t groan, whine, or complain. Instead, go outside and show your pooch that you’re having a great time! Stand in the rain, walk around with an umbrella, or sit on the porch as rain hits the awning. Do not react. Relax. Reward your dog for coming outside with you.
  • Remove negative connotations with rain: The next time it’s raining, go outside with your dog when he has to do his business. This proves that there’s no need to worry. In addition, avoid using water or loud sounds, such as clapping or yelling, as a punishment since it could exacerbate the issue.

Repeat these training exercises daily, starting with one or two minutes each time. Then, slowly work up to longer durations until your dog feels comfortable venturing outside when it rains. If you find that the aversion to rain is more complex, you may need professional assistance.

Obedience training or canine behavior counseling may help.

Conclusion

Dogs that avoid the rain may do so out of fear, discomfort, or because they see their human companions avoiding it. The best way to encourage a dog to walk in the rain is through positive reinforcement training, noise and water desensitization, and consistency.

Sources

  • https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/12/01/can-animals-predict-the-weather/
  • https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/12/01/can-animals-predict-the-weather/
  • https://news.vet.tufts.edu/2015/06/bang-bang-helping-your-dog-manage-noise-phobia/
  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/fear-of-noises-and-places-in-dogs
  • https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/catalog/7677
  • https://animaldiversity.org/site/accounts/information/Canis_lupus.html
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/nature.2017.22320
  • https://online.king.edu/infographics/dog-psychology-mind-mutts/

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