You go out in the morning and your dog won’t walk on the dew-kissed grass.
You coax and you pull the leash. But they act like you’re asking them to wade through lava.
Or after a downpour, your potty-trained dog gives you a look as if to say, “Well. . . It’s wet outside. Mother Nature seems to think I should just do it indoors.”
I can hear fur parents mentally screaming, “IT’S JUST WET GRASS!”
But tough luck, dogs don’t see it that way.
Read on to learn:
- What makes your dog despise (wet) grass.
- The reason they can walk on dry grass but not wet.
- The cause behind sudden changes in their opinion of this.
- 7 very useful tips to help them fall in love with any kind of turf.
- And so much more…
Why won’t my dog walk on wet grass?
Your dog won’t walk on wet grass because it worsens the pain of a foot pad injury, it feels weird to them and they may have phobia-related issues with it. Or they think it’s unsafe because of a bad experience. They may have picked up that you don’t like it either and concluded it must be bad.
Why does my dog refuse to walk on the grass?
Your dog refuses to walk on grass because they’re allergic to it or they can detect that it’s treated with harmful chemicals. An unkempt lawn makes them uncomfortable, as do the scents left by other animals. They may also be going through a fear period and are afraid of grass in particular.
9 real reasons why your dog won’t walk on (wet) grass
Why your dog won’t walk on wet grass
#1: It hurts
One of the first things to consider is injury to your dog’s foot pads. These are the thick, rubber-like paddings on the undersides of their feet.
VCA emphasizes their significant importance as they:
- Aid navigation of uneven or rough terrain.
- Insulate the foot from extreme weather (hot and cold).
- Cushion every step and provide traction to prevent slipping.
- Protect bones and joints from the shock incurred by running and walking.
Tears, punctures, and burns are among the injuries that could happen to foot pads.
And unfortunately, they can’t hold stitches as well as other areas of your dog’s body. This means a longer time for tears and punctures to heal.
If your dog limps or licks their foot pads, it could be a sign of injury. But they won’t necessarily do this if the pain isn’t that bad – yet.
So you won’t get the early warning that there’s a nasty cut there. It’s only when they walk on the wet turf that it really stings.
You were wondering, “Why does my dog hate walking on wet grass?”
Of course, they’ll want to avoid anything that worsens their pain. Even you don’t like running your wound under the faucet. Likewise, your dog will keep off the wet grass.
#2: It’s weird (and scary)
Your dog could find wet grass very unusual. Especially if they were born in the summer. Dry grass is all they’ve known. It’s what they’ve played on for months. Then the rains come.
Some dogs do adjust very well and enjoy themselves outdoors after rainfall. But if you’re reading this, then yours is probably not one of them. So let’s dig up more info to understand your buddy.
Why are dogs scared of wet grass? It could be possible that they see it as a result of something they fear: storms.
Does your dog begin to get anxious as the clouds roll in? And does this fearful behavior worsen as the lightning strikes and thunder roars?
Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and storms. Your dog might suffer from it.
And yes, dogs have phobias too. Of course, it can be more awful for some than others. But for all of them who have this particular one, it’s undoubtedly a frightening experience.
When the storm has passed, and you bring your dog outside, the wet grass greets them. They connect the dots in a certain way.
“Look, hooman! Look what the evil storm has done!”
You might also want to know: Why does my dog jump on me while walking?
#3: It’s not safe
It’s raining. So you’re stuck indoors watching a highlight reel of EURO 2020 goals.
One striker bends the ball into the top right of the goal. Then he runs towards the corner flag. He slides on his knees, moving a significant distance.
A majestic celebration for a majestic goal.
The rain stops.
You head outside for some fresh air with your dog.
They run all over the yard expending that pent-up energy. They bolt past you, trying to emulate what they saw earlier. But it’s an extra slippery patch of grass.
What happens next is not majestic.
It doesn’t end well. And it’s something imprinted on your dog’s mind. Now wet grass always conjures up the memory of this little mishap.
“It’s dangerous, Mom! Don’t make me go on it!”
#4: You don’t like it
Research shows that dogs effortlessly catch on to what humans around them are feeling.
For example, you’re upset about something. It’s unrelated to them. But they’ll be extra prim and proper, hoping it will cheer you up.
If you’re crying, they’ll comfort you. It may feel like a physical assault. They’re jumping up at you and licking your tears away. But they mean well.
They can also sense your urgency when it’s raining or it’s about to.
You hurriedly bring them outside and try to get them to go potty before it starts to shower.
Or it’s already pouring. They’re at the door whimpering cos they need to go. So you fasten a leash and grab the largest umbrella around. Then you head outside.
You’re obviously stressed out. You’re trying your best to keep them dry while they go about their business.
When they’re done, you have to stop them from dashing off for a rainy run. And you also have to steer them away from puddles they’re eager to dive into.
It’s tough work.
The more it happens, the more your dog is exposed to how overwhelmed you get in these situations.
Something in their head starts to turn. They begin to think, “If Mom doesn’t like it, it must be bad. Okay. I don’t like it either.”
Why your dog won’t walk on grass
#5: They have allergies
Your dog is allergic to grass.
Our canine companions can have a variety of allergies. In this case, it’s to grass.
According to PetMD, it’s more likely if your dog is a Golden Retriever, Cairn Terrier, English Cocker Spaniel, or a Pit Bull. This bunch is the poor pooches usually diagnosed with allergies.
“Uh, no. It can’t be allergies. My dog was fine walking and playing on grass before.”
Allergies in dogs are similar to those in humans. Some are there from the get-go. Others develop later on in life.
So your dog used to have a great time rolling around on stretches of green. Now they won’t even go near it. This is a sign they probably developed allergies.
Some of the symptoms include:
Sounds rough. No wonder your dog doesn’t want to get back out onto the turf.
#6: It’s toxic
The grass you’re trying to walk your dog on may be green. But this is not always a good sign. Especially if it’s been treated with harmful chemicals.
A study revealed that herbicides were detected in the urine of pet dogs. Their exposure to this is known to put them at a higher risk of bladder cancer.
And it’s more than just herbicides. The insecticides and fertilizers used in various areas of the yard are harmful as well. The effects may range from mild symptoms to deadly ones.
“Does my dog know this too?”
I wouldn’t be the least surprised if they do.
Frankly, we’re talking about animals that can detect explosives, weaponry, and drugs. Picking up on the harmful chemicals on your lawn is not a stretch of the imagination.
If it gets their doggy senses tingling, they won’t want to take a stroll on a carpet of death.
#7: It’s uncomfortable
It’s also possible that your dog hates walking on grass because your lawn might not be picture perfect.
You shouldn’t use chemicals to treat it but don’t neglect it completely either.
Your dog may want to enjoy some time out in the yard. But it can be uncomfortable for them if the grass is long or there are weeds springing up here and there.
I mean, would you enjoy a picnic on such a lawn?
It may be a bit more tolerable for taller breeds. But think of the poor smaller ones with the grass and weeds up in their faces.
I can bet you they’re thinking, “Would it kill Dad to mow the lawn every now and then?”
Well, Dad. Would it?
#8: It smells disrespectful
Dogs have incredible senses. We’ll never stop being amazed by that. And we’ll never stop mentioning it either.
But these superpowers do have their limits.
Your good boy/girl will know if someone’s trying to get into their house in the dead of night. But it’s a bit too much to ask of them to sense that critter intruding far out in the yard.
They’re all snuggled up in bed upstairs.
A closed bedroom door. The hallway. The stairs. The living room. The front door. The patio. And finally, the yard.
All these stand between your sleeping pooch and the strays that have the audacity to relieve themselves on your lawn.
A rude discovery awaits your dog in the morning. They happily run out of the house and stop dead in their tracks.
“Ugh! The lawn is wet and even worse… CONTAMINATED!”
And depending on where you live, it’s not just other dogs who’ll lift their leg in your dog’s territory.
Other kinds of animals may wander into your yard. Their unfamiliar scents will confuse your dog even more.
That’s it! They’re staying on the concrete. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
It’s especially worse if…
#9: They’re going through a fear period
Fear periods are just that. Periods your puppy goes through when they’re extra fearful about anything and everything.
The experts over at AKC reassure us that this is normal. As puppies develop, they go through 2 periods of fear:
- Fear Period #1: 8–11 Weeks.
- Fear Period #2: 6–14 Months.
The first period definitely seems normal.
At that age, puppies are mostly tiny balls of fluff. They’re helpless and dependent. Then they’re suddenly put through a huge change – moving to a new home.
There’s now a different environment and new people to get used to. This can be overwhelming even for adult humans. All the more for a little pup.
The second period is the one that raises eyebrows.
By this point, your puppy (especially larger breeds) look fully grown. They’ve started taking on that majestic and fearsome bearing. And their bark can scare off the most daring intruder.
Then you wake up one day to find that everything frightens them – even grass.
But as ridiculous as this might seem, it’s entirely possible that this is why your dog won’t walk on grass.
How do I get my dog to walk on (wet) grass? 7 tips
Note: Before you attempt to convince your dog to walk on (wet) grass, make sure:
- They’re cleared of all possible health-related issues (e.g., allergies and injuries).
- The grass is dog-friendly (no harmful chemicals) and comfortable (weeded and trimmed).
How to get your dog to walk on wet grass
#1: Expose your dog to water
Your dog doesn’t want to walk on wet grass. They don’t enjoy bath time either. Here’s how you can hit two birds with one stone.
Introduce water to playtime.
Easing a feared or disliked element into a fun setting can be very effective. In this case, it’s water.
You can’t just directly drop your pup onto a wet lawn or into a bathtub. You have to show them that water is fine. And it’s fun!
Playing with a water hose or sprinkler on a hot day is a good place to start. Then level up from there.
If possible, time at a creek or the beach would really highlight the fun that can be had with water.
And to maximize the efficacy, you need to get 100% involved.
Now, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a dip in the creek or beach. But you need to get wet in the yard with a water hose and sprinkler as well.
If your dog gets this kind of exposure to water, they might even enjoy walking on wet grass.
Note: Make sure you dry off your dog thoroughly after any activities in which they get wet.
#2: Use the largest umbrella you can find
The rain doesn’t follow your dog’s potty schedule.
It’s pouring and you need to bring them outside.
Use a large umbrella to keep them as dry as possible. Make sure to also use a leash. This way, you can better control them and keep them under the umbrella.
It’s certainly not an ideal scenario.
But it beats walking on wet grass plus getting soaked. At least with an umbrella, your dog only suffers one inconvenience.
Let’s hope they can appreciate this.
#3: Buy your dog boots
Who says only a puss can be in boots?
If an umbrella just won’t suffice for your dog, consider buying them footwear.
Some dogs make no fuss when you clothe them. But others act like you’re mummifying them alive.
If your dog is the former, then great! Putting on their boots will be a piece of cake.
However, if your dog is the latter, they’re going to be faced with some serious decisions to make. Either they go through the inconvenience of walking on wet grass, or of wearing boots.
Ownership is not a dictatorship.
So don’t force your dog. Rather help them create positive associations with the item you want them to wear.
How to get your dog to walk on grass
The following tips can help you get your dog to not only like grass, but to even love it. And once they do, getting them to walk on it will be a breeze.
#4: Basic obedience training
If you haven’t already, put your dog through basic obedience training.
If you have already, then revisit it.
Reinforcing obedience and ingraining discipline in your dog will help you through their ordeal with grass.
“Isn’t it cruel commanding my dog to do something that makes them uncomfortable?”
No, it isn’t. And there’s zero tolerance for dog cruelty on this website.
Getting your dog to obey you and “come” to the grass is the first step in helping them realize there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s great!
Your dog is missing out on a lot of fun (and safe) playtime on the lawn.
It’s your responsibility to help them live their life to the fullest and not only walk on grass but relish the time they spend on it.
#5: Feed them on grass
This is a viable solution especially for food-motivated dogs.
If they want that mouth-watering piece of chicken, they have to go get it – on the grass.
It goes without saying that any food you give them should be in a bowl. Not directly on the ground.
The more they keep going to retrieve the food from the bowl on the grass, the more exposure they get. And slowly but surely they’ll come to realize, “This chicken tastes great! And the grass isn’t that bad a place to be on either.”
#6: Play with them on grass
This works pretty much the same way as the previous tip:
- Get your dog to do something they like on the grass.
- They enjoy themselves and realize it’s not bad.
It’s a simple yet effective approach.
You’re playing a bit of fetch in the living room.
Watch out! The front door is open. The ball might roll out!
Now you’re playing on the porch. Then…
Oh no! I threw the ball a bit too hard. Now it’s on the lawn.
And without thinking twice, your good dog runs over to retrieve it!
You throw the ball farther.
In the exhilaration of the chase, your dog also appreciates how nice and soft the grass is to run on.
#7: Playdate on grass
You playing with your dog on grass will go a long way to helping them resolve their issues with it. But there’s something that can be even more effective.
“How do I get my dog to like the grass?”
The Beatles got by with a little help from their friends. Your dog could do the same!
Does your dog have any furry buddies? If so, arrange to have them over for a playdate.
Be smooth about it. Don’t just drag them all out onto the lawn right away. That would especially backfire if the fur buds don’t like grass either.
Start out indoors.
Then gradually make your way outside.
Get them engaged on the deck. Make sure they have so much fun that they lose track not only of time but also of location.
Before either of them know it, they’ll be running and rolling all over the lawn.