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Why Do Some Dogs Hate Rain?
By Langley Cornwell
Dogs are funny. Some of their behaviors seem contradictory unless you drill down and understand what’s behind certain choices. For instance, we’ve been having a lot of rain from tropical storms lately, and it’s been a full-time job trying to get my dogs to go out and do their business. But when it’s not raining, they love to splash in mud puddles and even enjoy swimming in lakes and pools. What gives? Wet is wet, right? Not so fast…
If your dog loves to swim but hates the rain, you may be confused by the logic of that. You may have even tried putting a raincoat on your dog to help convince him to head out the door. (Yes, I’ve even resorted to that.) This may have actually made the situation worse, and it’s not just because your dog doesn’t understand what the purpose of a raincoat is. It has more to do with the effect of the protective barrier.
Understanding the Hearing of Dogs
Believe it or not, dogs avoid the rain mostly because of the sound it makes. In fact, you might notice that your dog won’t even go out the front door onto a covered porch when it’s raining. That’s because the sound the rain makes when it hits the porch roof can be even worse than the rain hitting the ground.
Dogs can hear about four times as far away as humans can, but distance isn’t the only extreme. While humans have a range of hearing from 64-23,000 Hz, dogs have a much wider range of 67-45,000 Hz. In simple terms, this means that dogs hear much higher pitches than humans can. Think about the time you spun a rope around really fast and the sound it made. Things that move make sound waves with their movement. Those sound waves are sometimes at higher decibels than you can hear, but your dog can hear them. Whether it is the sound of the rain moving through the air or the sound of raindrops landing on objects nearby, it is overwhelming to dogs.
Puppies and Rain
If you have puppies in the house and you let them out to use the bathroom during the rain, you might notice that they have no hesitation. Most times, pups are more inclined to go out in the rain than their dams are. True, a cold rain might send a pup scurrying back to his mom, but pups younger than 21 days old are deaf, so they don’t share the same issues that older dogs have with rain. For these pups, the chill of the cold water hitting their tender skin is enough reason to run back to the warm scent of Mom, but a warm rain is of no concern.
Difference in Ear Shapes
Maybe your floppy-eared dog loves to play in the rain, but your German Shepherd runs back inside. While humans only have 6 muscles to move their ears, dogs have 18 and they sometimes move instinctually. The floppy-eared dog can block out some of the sounds by keeping his ears…well, floppy. German Shepherds have large, upright and pointed ears, so it is difficult for them to block the loud rain sounds.
The Raincoat Conundrum
There are dog people who, without knowing better, shroud their dogs in raincoats and don’t understand why the dog just stands there. Some people don’t understand the body language of the dog, so even though the dog looks like he is posing for a photo in his new snappy outfit, that’s not the case. The dog is avoiding movement because the raincoat is uncomfortable and makes unpleasant sounds. Now, imagine that you have really sensitive hearing and someone lays a sheet of hard plastic over your head before sending you outside in the rain. The plastic not only amplifies the sounds, but blocks out other noises that the dog might actually want to hear.
If there is a steady, long-term rain and your dog must go out, relax. Dogs pick up your energy so don’t let them feel your frustration. You should also be prepared to walk. Don’t just pop out and expect your dog to do his business on cue. Grab an umbrella and/or a raincoat and go for a walk as if nothing is odd. And when you come back in from a walk in the rain, you may want to reward the dog with a tasty treat. The more often you do this, the more accustomed your dog will get to being outside in the rain. So the next time a tropical storm rolls in, you and your dog will be ready!
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell
Last edited by LadyDi; 04-12-2019 at 08:20 AM.