Is a little rain going to stop you and your best bud from going out for your daily run? Of course not! Although frequent drizzly days might require a little extra planning and some special gear before you hit your favorite dog-friendly running trail. Even infrequent rainy runs will benefit from a little more focus on safety and comfort beforehand so that you're prepared for the wetness when it does strike. Let's start this quick guide to running with your dog in the rain by asking an important question:
Does Your Dog Enjoy Being Outside in the Rain?
Not all dogs like getting wet (think bathtime). Although some revel in it as witnessed by all of the hilarious videos online of dogs rolling in mud puddles! If your pup grew up in the Pacific Northwest, he probably accepts rain as just another facet of daily life.
However, if your dog grew up in the Southwest with its often terrifying and potentially deadly monsoons, he'll probably look with askance at you the first time you even suggest going for a walk or running in the rain. If that's the case, you'll want to start off slowly by choosing the tail end of the monsoon. Start out with short walks, and bring plenty of treats.
Safety First When Running in the Rain With Your Dog
Gray, overcast skies and an atmosphere full of moisture can dramatically limit visibility while running just as it does while driving. And when you and your pup's lives are at stake, it's especially important for both of you to be as visible as possible and to stay keenly aware of your surroundings. Start with a great hands-free leash that lets you keep your focus on your surroundings rather than on managing a leash.
Light, bright colors, reflective gear, and a rechargeable safety light for each of you will also help keep you safer in poor visibility. Anything you can do to increase your visibility and improve others' ability to see you are important. So don't forget to carry a flashlight and provide reflective gear for your dog.
Ample reflective gear is especially important for dark-colored dogs. A search of your favorite pet store or online retailer will likely turn up reflective collars, vests, dog tags, and other items that light up for safety during poor visibility.
Stay Comfortable Despite the Weather
There are plenty of gear options available if you consider running with your dog in the rain. At the minimum, you'll want a lightweight, waterproof jacket. If there's a chance that salt might be used to reduce slipperiness on the running path you'll be using, add booties to your dog's rainy-day wardrobe. While picking out your buddy's rain gear, don't forget your own. You might be surprised at the difference a lightweight jacket with a hood and wool socks can make to your own comfort level!
Speaking of comfort... Use your own as a good guide to your dog's comfort level. Is wet hair making you feel chilled and uncomfortable? Then just imagine how a whole body's worth of wet hair is making your dog feel! If your precious pup has long hair around her face, look for a doggy raincoat with a hood. And yes, they make such things!
The more of your dog that stays dry the better. An umbrella big enough to shelter both of you is a plus. Of course, you'll probably want to use a slightly shorter hands-free leash. This way, you can maintain control of your dog without having to juggle both the leash and the umbrella.
As dedicated runners, neither you nor your four-legged running companion wants to give up your training routine just because of a little wet weather. However, cold and damp can combine to cause potentially deadly hypothermia in both you and your dog. Running at high altitudes or following mountain trails leaves you especially prone to the loss of essential body heat caused by cold, damp conditions.
Other factors in developing hypothermia include having a damp body and exposure to a chill wind. Older dogs and those with short, thin coats are especially prone to developing hypothermia. Therefore, it's important to dress them for chilly, damp weather. A waterproof coat will help ensure your doggy isn't shivering his way through your run. A waterproof coat that's also highly reflective? Yes, please!
In case of a temperature emergency, having some warming aids available in the car can help keep your pet from getting any worse while on the way to the vet. They should include instant heat packs and enough thick, heavy towels to enfold your beloved dog. Beach towels are a great option for that!
Get Your Timing and Path Just Right
Heading out either when a rain storm is just getting started or when it's starting to tail off is generally the best option. That way, you and your pet might be able to escape the brunt of it. If there's a chance of lightning, plan your route to keep you near home or another available shelter.
Staying away from busy streets will keep you away from traffic. This is also a way to help you avoid less obvious hazards. Puddles near a busy street are full of oil, antifreeze, yard chemicals, and animal feces of all kinds. Hard-hitting raindrops can splash that nasty stuff onto your beloved pet. If you can't avoid exposure to that nastiness, it's a good idea to rinse your pup's legs off when you get home, followed by a rubdown with a dryer-warmed towel.
You'll also want to carry clean water and something to drink it from. This way, you can keep your thirsty dog from snatching a quick drink from the nearest puddle. Yuck! By carrying your own clean water and offering it at the first sign of thirst, you can keep him away from those potentially lethal puddles.
As your pet's best friend, it's your job to make runs with him as safe and comfortable as possible no matter what the weather. By following this quick guide on running with your dog in the rain, you can do just that.