Fortunately, my dogs have always tolerated the rain. They don’t LOVE it like some dogs, but they will venture out into a downpour and take care of their business. But what if your dog refuses to go outside every time it rains? Here are some ways to make this very necessary action happen:
Work on your dog’s relationship with water. Some dogs only associate water with bath time. Teach your dog that water is fun by playing in it! Use garden hoses, pails of water, baby pools, etc. and just have a great time. If your dog is fearful, work slowly and carefully. If you bring out their favorite toys, favorite treats and even a few new things, most dogs will start enjoying themselves and before you know it, water will no longer be such a big deal.
Help them learn to love the soggy grass beneath their feet. Does your dog not like the feel of soggy earth between their paws? Then you need to get them to do so by feeding them on wet grass and/or playing on wet grass. Show them that just like rain itself, this isn’t a big deal! Put a food bowl on the wet lawn. Don’t cheat yourself and give them a freebie on dry land or this won’t work. Make it enticing and super rewarding!
Help them to walk it off. Walking stimulates their “go” reflexes. Walk with them in the rain to help put them in the mood. Umbrella is optional.
Play the waiting game. Wait until you know that your dog really, really, really has to go to the bathroom and then hustle them outside. Even in the rain the urgency of their bodily function requirements will help garner the action.
Don’t make your dog go out alone. If your dog is not a fan of the rain simply putting them in your yard and closing the door isn’t going to cut it, unless your goal is a full sized dog print on your door and a whiny unhappy canine. Go outside with them. Do not coddle them or pet them in the rain if they are uncomfortable or you will simply be telling them over and over again “Great Job! Keep shivering! Shake away!!! I love seeing you upset!” If you want to be encouraging and comfort your dog, show them the correct way to behave using their ritualized behavior practices.
Ritualized business practices. You heard me correctly. Make their private moments a ritual act. The use of cue words can help your dog to understand what they are doing out in the rain and how to “earn” their way back inside! The use of ritual saves your dog the time it takes to search for the perfect spot to go! Give your dog the tools that it needs by being consistent. I like cues like “Hurry Up” or “Be Quick.”
Do not punish rain avoidance. If your dog is punished every time it rains, it will not increase the desire to go outside. Misplaced punishment can result in a dog conditioned by you to hate the rain even more and can even result in housebreaking regression. If you are on a housebreaking schedule, be sure to stick to it regardless of the weather to give your dog a fair shot at realizing your goals.
Invest in a great umbrella. This will not help condition your dog to get used to the rain. It will not teach your dog that rain is harmless. It will not adjust their perspective on the weather… but it will keep you dry and can get the business done. I do NOT suggest this method as a way of promoting healthy dog mentalities or resolving rain resistance.
Is your dog still not convinced? Research and hire a knowledgeable dog trainer. A good dog trainer is sure to point you in the right direction and save your floors during storm season.