7 Tips For Walking A Dog In The Rain The Proper Way

Walking a dog in the rain. Photo of a dog owner walking his beagle dog in the rain.

We’ve all been in the situation where we’ve clipped the leash on our dog and stepped outside, only to find that it is pouring outside! Can you walk your dog in the rain? Is it safe to do so? Below, we talk all about it and give you some tips to make it as fun and satisfying as possible.

You can walk your dog in the rain without harm, but you will want to make sure to keep the walk shorter than usual and watch for signs that your dog wants to go inside. This helps you make the most out of your time outside but still prioritize his comfort and safety, too.

Is it okay to walk my dog in the rain?

This is a great question to ask, especially since you want to do everything you can to make sure you are a responsible pet parent! Generally, it is okay to walk your dog in the rain — it’s just water, after all! But, there are three things to keep in mind to help you decide whether it’s the right call for either of you:

  • The visibility outside
  • Your dog’s health and comfort
  • Your dog’s preferences for the weather (yes, really!)

The visibility outside

If it’s just some drizzle or light to moderate rain, it’s nothing more than what most people call a “spring storm”. You still should be able to see easily and, most importantly, other people and cars will be able to see you. If visibility isn’t great, or you’re concerned, invest in some high visibility gear for dog walking and head on out!

Your dog’s health and comfort

If you have a sick dog or a senior dog, you may want to consider holding off on a walk in the rain. Just like humans, your dog can get sick if he gets damp and too cold. If you know that your dog is prone to sickness, consider walking him after the storm!

Similarly, if you want to walk with your dog in the rain, you know how you always put on a raincoat and rubber boots? Well, grab a set of rain gear for your dog, too! This will help them stay comfortable in the rain and give them a lot more enjoyment when it comes to no need to tow them off when they get home. You can even get little rubber booties, too! Plus, let’s be honest, they’re going to look absolutely adorable!

Your dog’s preferences for the weather

We know it sounds strange, but you know how stubborn dogs can be! If your dog just hates going for a walk in the rain, don’t make him go! His happiness level is essential, and there’s no sense in making him walk in the rain if he really just doesn’t like to walk when it’s raining out. 

Some dogs love being out in the rain and rolling in the muddy puddles. Others prefer running into mountains of snow. Others will only go out for a walk when it’s sunny out.  

Can dogs get sick from walking in the rain?

This is an excellent question, and it’s one that many pet parents don’t think about until they head out for their first walk in the rain! Yes, dogs can get sick from walking in the rain in a lot of cases.

Dogs regulate their temperature using their fur to help them stay warm. When their fur gets wet, their skin gets wet, too (think of wet hair with humans), and this can make them feel cold a lot faster since it presses against them. That, combined with cold feet and a cold wind, and…yeah, brrr! If they are too wet for too long a period, this prolonged time of benign cold can give them a cold! 

Also, most streets where you walk your dog aren’t going to be pristine and perfectly healthy water. The muddy rainwater will flick up debris, including motor oil, anti-freeze, animal feces, and more. They may very well track all of that home, and it may make them sick!

Top 7 tips for walking your dog in the rain

If you’re ready to grab your dog and head out for a nice walk in the rain, here are some tips to help you make the most out of it!

  1. Time your walk carefully
  2. Adjust your plan to the rain itself
  3. Use your own comfort as a good guide
  4. Stay away from traffic and busy streets
  5. Have a warm towel waiting
  6. Don’t go too far from home
  7. Expose him to rain when he’s young

Time your walk carefully

Look ahead to the weather and try to time your walk so that you only get the very start of the rainstorm, at your walk’s end, or you head out when it is almost at its end. This will help you enjoy it a little bit, but then get to enjoy the rest of the walk comfortably without feeling as though it’s Noah’s Ark out there!

If it’s going to be a torrential downpour, try to get your walk scheduled in before or after to help protect him and you from the worst of it.

Adjust your plan to the rain itself

If you know it’s a light summer rain, you can pretty much just enjoy your walk as usual. If it’s going to be heavy rain, it might be best to make your walk a little shorter than normal just to help everyone stay comfortable. If it changes to be harder or lighter as you walk, you can adjust your plan as you and your dog want. 

Use your own comfort as a good guide

This is a trick that really can help those anxious pet parents relax a bit. If it’s okay for you in your rain gear, it’s fine for them in their rain gear. If it’s too uncomfortable for you, you can bet that it’s the same for them. If there is one piece of equipment that you should focus on for your dog, it’s going to be those little booties. You can find quite a few options now that will be easy to put on, and your dog will enjoy. Let your dog help you find just the right ones for him!

Stay away from traffic and busy streets

As much as possible, stay away from traffic and streets with many people, dogs, and cars. It all means splashing puddles and extra stress that will make the walk unenjoyable! Plus, walking alone with your dog is the whole point, right?

Have a warm towel waiting

Help your dog get warm again with a warm towel waiting in your home. Dry off all of his exposed fur and make sure he’s comfortable and as dry as possible (even if he has rain gear, he might need his face or tail to be dried, for example) when you get home.

Don’t go too far from home

When it’s raining steadily, try not to go too far from home just in case a thunderstorm or a torrential downpour sets in unexpectedly. No one — including your dog — wants to be out in that!

Expose him to rain when he’s young

This is important for parents to remember: dogs need to understand that rain isn’t a threat! When a dog isn’t exposed to rain, he learns to fear it instead of seeing it as just a kind of weather (like we do). You’ll want to make sure that he gets out of it plenty as soon as you get him so that he understands it’s just another kind of weather.

What do I do if my dog won’t go for a walk when it’s raining?

Like we talked about above, some dogs don’t like walking in the rain no matter how many times you try to bribe them with treats. If he just won’t go outside in the rain, but you want to enjoy some bonding and active time, there are plenty of ways to do that!

The best way is interactive playtime. If you have space in your home to do it, play fetch with him and get him running back and forth with you, encouraging him to do so. If you don’t have a lot of space, you can try something like a tug of war session or even interactive toys that he gets to enjoy while also having some bonding time with his favorite human. 

If you want to test him a bit, why not try advanced dog training? Perhaps something along the lines of literally jumping through hoops or doing complicated rolling and sitting tricks! It can be a great way to spend a rainy day together!

A rainy day doesn’t have to mean no walk, but there are some tips to help you and him stay safe and enjoy your time outside when you both decide to brave the rain together.

In review

You can safely walk your dog in the rain, but make sure that you have rain and high vis gear for both of you to keep you safe and comfortable.

If you know someone who will love this information or should know how to keep their dog safe while walking in the rain, share this with them!

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Sara Santos

Writer, Editor and member of the Council, I am a dog person and I thrive to get the answers that will help you provide the best care a dog can have. You can also find me on my personal blog here.