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Teaching a Pup to Rain Walk

walking dogs in the rain

walking dogs in the rain

Teaching a puppy to walk on a leash is truly an art form.   Sometimes he is running between my legs or wrapping around them the leash!   The next moment he has come to a complete stop, four legs braced and fixed onto the pathway and not moving at all.   Then again, we are way out front with tail high, stocking the world.

I am not big on allowing the pup to smell and sniff along the way, but he is still too small for the HALTI,  training collar so I am a bit more relaxed.

So far we have only had one accident on a walk; he does his pooh in the dog run out the laundry room door.    He rings a bell at the top of the first flight of stairs to let me know he needs to go, and then he rings a bell at the laundry room door to say “let me out”.    I can hear him from the computer or upstairs and we are not having any accidents with this system. (No door damage and no confusion about what a bark might mean.)

This week he has started ringing the top bell to tell me he is ready for our walk; at 9 am and at 3 pm – almost by the clock.  He added this ringing all by himself.

We have had several weeks of sunshine, heavy fog, or misty showers and the temperature has been very moderate this winter.  The heavy rains and downpours have returned and puppy walking has taken on some new challenges.   I cannot carry an umbrella but have found my good hooded rain jacket with a baseball cap underneath keeps my glasses clear and we have ventured forth.   We are up to 2 miles in about 45 minutes – one mile up hill and one mile downhill.

Yesterday it was a constant downpour of rain and at nearly every street corner we would start to cross and little legs would stop the action.  I would have to move back, pick him up and carry him across each intersection.   I cut two blocks out of the route and doubled back on a quieter street.  We were nearly run over by a car in a hurry which surprised us with a big splash of gutter water; I grabbed the pup and jumped into a neighbor’s garden bed.

I was thinking up the most dramatic curse I could hurl at the disappearing car, I am very slow at having the right responses, when both pup and I saw it and turned our focus to another direction.

Not even out of January and there it was the first crocus to bless our vision.  Yes, we have winter crocus but this was a spring gem.    It was a lovely surprise and elegant amidst the crimson clover cover crop.

surprise crocus

surprise crocus

How could we let anger block our vision of this new?   Puppy leaned in for a sniff and then satisfied we headed home to dance the warm towel dry off.

Have you ever taught a puppy to go for a walk?  How about a toddler or child?   Did you find just the right surprise waiting for you there?    Are you a rain walker?

Related reading:
Robert Frost’s A Prayer in Spring
Do You Know your Walk Score?
I love flowers

24 Responses to “Teaching a Pup to Rain Walk”

  1. Talon Says:

    That crocus is gorgeous, Patricia! A beautiful surprise…

    Both my dogs love water in every form – except rain – lol! I love to walk in a summer rain, but pass on it in late fall when it’s just too cold and miserable. When I do get geared up, the dogs will go out for rain walks regardless because they’re accomodating beasts. :)

    Walking with dogs and young kids is the same to me – full of the unknown and never dull or boring.

    And I’d have a few choice words ready for that driver nearly hitting you and Zip ! What terrible driving behavior!

    Patricia Reply:

    One of the important lessons to the Pacific Northwest is that when it rains, that is a work day and get lots accomplished day – including walks. Now when it snows, one must just stop and celebrate a snow day ( or intentionally drive for a snow day.) and hot cocoa is required! Sunshine: whatever is your form of play outside – do that, immediately!! without hesitation…

    I just love my walks and can hardly wait until my buddy is ready for the 5 miles around the lake.

    Drivers here are getting very aggressive and rude…I liked it better when gas prices were to high for driving! Safer.

  2. vered | blogger for hire Says:

    Training a dog sounds like a lot of work!

    Patricia Reply:

    A great deal of work with a huge loving return! at least in my case- this time around.

    I did not think I would enjoy a dog when my children were young, and Library Girl did all the work and training (and paying for) her dogs that shared our household.

    Zip was a surprise – that he would bring so much joy, and silliness into my life.

    My Mother thought they were too much work and dirty so we never had them around as kids.

    Puppy sitters are a bit difficult, but my neighbor has an 8 year old dog and the conference center she is at for her work this week, has an activity center for dogs and her dog can be in her room with her. As a single woman far from her home turf, this is as great as being able to take a child with her on a work trip.
    We have 2 dog day care centers in our neighborhood so dogs do not have to be home alone for 8-10 hours a day and they have folks to give them a walk.

    More options now than when I was growing up and more single folks needing some help

  3. Mandy Allen Says:

    This post made me laugh lots. I have never had a dog who liked to walk in the rain. They all took one look out the door and promptly disappeared indoors. Your pup clearly already knows the bell gets attention! Clever pup. We have buds appearing and young plants pushing up through the ground here in the UK too, but I haven’t seen a crocus yet.

    Enjoy the journey.


    Patricia Reply:

    I hope I can get the tree pruners here in time as everything is suddenly budding out – very mild winter.

    Today the morning walk turned to hale….hail? Zip had no trouble turning tail and heading for home – we ran most of the way!

    This puppy is so smart and very clever indeed. He is trying to get my attention away from the computer by hitting me with his toy on the knee…now he is dragging his bedding into the office!

    Lots of laughing here

  4. Jannie Funster Says:

    Your rain walk talk fills me with the fresh green air you get to breathe.

    Love to think of Zip sniffing the flower with satisfaction.

    And of him ringing his walkies bell! He sounds very smart!

    Yes, as puppies ours were always getting the leashes wrapped around them and me, I was always untwirling me. Eventually they just settled down into the leash and stopped fighting, about age 1 I think.

    Nice post!

    So lush in your area.


    Patricia Reply:

    Very smart and clever – though this morning when the rain turned to the icy pellets we were both quite ready to come home

    Now I am seeing lots of bulbs pushing up around the yard. What a mild winter it has been. Next week we drive through the mountain passes to help one child move into her first apt. on her own…hope the weather stays good for that trip

  5. Val Says:

    Lovely post and I wish I knew how you train a puppy to ring a bell!
    Unfortunately I have to answer ‘no’ to all your quesions at the end. I’ve never taken a puppy for a walk (as I have allergies), nor a child as I don’t have any, and I’m not a fan of rain, so I tend to stay indoors when it’s wet out there!
    PS, your commentluv plugin has a note saying that it’s not working and needs updating!

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Val for your kind words. If I tried to stay inside on rainy days, I would never get outside – although today is sunny and crisp

    IT Girl is extremely busy but knows about the comment luv problem and says she will get to it as soon as she can…

    Thanks for letting me know

  6. Dot Says:

    Imagine how tangled two puppies can get! Luckily, when my two were small, they didn’t need leashes. But they still were good at tangling when they grew up. Ringing a bell to go out at his age? That’s really wonderful!

    Patricia Reply:

    We love the bell ringing – though yesterday he kept teasing to get me off the computer, but he does not ring the second bell then – very smart pup I think

    Every day he goes across the street to see if his friend Brody is home for a play. Brody is at a convention with his owner and has his own play group on site!!!

    Oh tangled is tangled – I still have to do my own fitness walk alone as he is getting to heavy to carry.

    This is so fun!

  7. Chris Edgar Says:

    Hi Patty — it sounds like you were fuming over what happened with the car and then your perspective suddenly shifted when you were confronted with the way most of the (non-human) world is. I know I’ve had that kind of experience when I’ve walked out of a building in somewhat of a funk, and suddenly noticed the tops of nearby trees and how proud and majestic they seemed.

    Patricia Reply:

    Chris – you are right on…it is amazing how nature does not disappoint.

  8. Tess The Bold Life Says:

    The photos are so wonderful. I can smell the rain and flower. The puppy adorable. How cute. Yes, I’ve taught 4 toddlers to walk. It’s such a joy to see them enjoy their freedom.

    Patricia Reply:

    It just keep one in the present moment and noticing the surprises all around- discovery . 4 Toddlers you are so lucky Tess, though at the time you might not have always felt so :)

  9. Deborah Says:

    Ah, I loved reading this. So nice to hear someone else talking about walking in the rain with dogs!
    As you know from my blog, I take both mine to the woods or to the common each day. Come rain or shine. There they can run free but getting there involves lead walking and I can swear by the ‘click’ n treat’ method for stopping the pulling.
    A lot of it comes with age though. Flossie at four months balked at traffic, bikes and any loud noise coming her way. Flossie at almost eleven months, takes most things in her stride and walks ‘nicely’ on her lead although I do use a halti a lot of the time.

    Have just persuaded her to travel in the boot of my car (it’s a hatch-back) instead of on the back seat – she improves every day and is currently lording it by the halogen heater since our central heating was NOT fixed last week – British Gas cancelled and are returning tomorrow.

    As for surprises, I love the woods because it changes daily. Winter is normally a free-for-all for the dogs, lots of mud and full streams to wade in. There is a valued privacy in the woods in winter. Soon we will have bluebells everywhere and towards summer, the brooks and streams that meander through the trees will dry up and the landscape will change again.

    On a completely frivolous note – the other day both Flossie and I thought we had seen a blackbird at the side of the path. On closer inspection we found an upturned tree root. This habit of seeing what ‘isn’t there’ is one I have had all my life so I am always being surprised!

    I did enjoy this post Patricia. (The bell is a stroke of genius!)

    Patricia Reply:

    This comment is nearly a whole post in itself. I have read lots of your puppy post in your archives.

    Your woods walks sound just fabulous – We will have to come over and share your adventure.

    Thank you for you great words of wisdom here….we all grow a bit older and wiser everyday….:)

  10. Sara Says:


    This is wonderful story. I actually got tears in my eyes when saw the crocus. You never know when a moment of fear can turn into a moment of wonder:~)

    Regarding the puppy, I laughed all through this post. I love how you’re training him to ring the bell and he figured out how to ring for walks as well. I hope this doesn’t catch up with you at some point. Dogs can be rather insistent.

    Until my last dog who actually enjoys the rain, all of the dogs I’ve known hated to walk in the rain. Like Talon mentioned, they might like the water, but definitely not a walk in the rain. So, good luck with this puppy training. I am so pleased that you have a puppy; they fill something a space you didn’t even know was empty until you get them:~)

    Patricia Reply:

    talk about insistent bell ringing – we were waiting for UPS to deliver this new computer and the sun was shining – I think he rang the bell 20 times at least, but I was just as impatient!!!! Now he is hoping for an early supper after a long walk – BUT this time I just had to try this computer out.

    The crocus redirect – works every time for me! I just wish the cars would slow down where there are no sidewalks in our neighborhood.

    Thank you for you kind words – just what I wanted to hear from you today :)

  11. Meredith Says:

    Patricia, I am so glad you were not hurt! That was my first reaction. My second, of course, was to melt at the sight of that crocus. Talk about serendipity and being open to the joy and beauty of the moment. I *love* this post. :)

    The bell ringing technique is so clever. Our cat Leo, who is very smart, has also come up with a way to get me to open the door on command. Unfortunately, it’s rather devious. He broke one of our window blinds — just a little bit, but still, I will have to pay to replace it. And now he just comes into whatever room I’m in, hops onto the desk or the bed or the shelf or the counter, and taps the blind at the nearest window very gently. Tap, tap, tap… and I hop up like a jack-in-the-box because I don’t want another broken blind. It’s funny because it’s such a tiny sound, but so menacing, as if he’s reminding us, “I could break this right now, you know.”

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you for your concern and lovely words – it was one of those posts that just flowed – story telling in real life

    Smart kitty – gets just what he wants! Before we discovered our family cat allergies, we had a fellow who looked like a tuxedo called: Rudy the White Nosed Kitty Cat. We have an oval sink in the garden bathroom and it is the warmest room in the house – he would always find a way to be sleeping in that sink – especially when we had company come for a visit!

  12. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. pups – they know what they want .. but honestly yours is amazing so well trained, ringing bells etc .. gosh you must let her have a few smells – you stop too and smell the flowers .. time for that! But good for you – two miles up hill and down ..

    The crocus is beautiful – such a deep colour & no wonder you were filled with delight ..

    I’ve seen a pale one so far .. more soon I’m sure .. cheers Hilary

    Patricia Reply:

    The lite purple stripy winter crocus were all out about Christmas time Hilary and in December we saw several light pink Camellias in bloom – It has been such a mild winter and tons of warm rain. I am trying not to think that this may mean that the summer will be blisteringly hot?

    Too far away to worry about, I will just take what comes. On our walk today we saw hundreds of snowdrops in bloom and I noticed that the slugs have eaten the bloom buds off all of my daffodils in a bowl by the hedge – drat!

    I am sure some will survive and raise our spirits