Fashion for Pups — Good idea?

dog in clothesQ: I just bought my dog his first winter coat and boots, but when I put them on him he won’t move.  How to I get him to love his new gear?

A: Ah yes, the dog clothing drama.  Although wearing the newest Burberry coat or Prada boots is thrilling to you, your dog is, well, a dog.  Sorry.  They’ve gotten on just fine with the coat they arrived in, and the same goes for their footwear.  However, like it or not, there is a need for some dogs to have foot protection and added warmth, so in an effort to reduce the stress of your dog (and the number of videos of dogs on YouTube trying to dislodge themselves from their new boots), you need to do some training to teach your dog how much fun it can be wear clothes.  You’ve heard of leash breaking and house breaking (although I detest the word “breaking”), so it makes sense that there needs to be some type of training associated with a concept as foreign to a dog as wearing clothes.  My suggestion is to start training with an oversized t-shirt (use a child’s size for small dogs) which will be easier and less upsetting to put his head and legs through than a tight sweater.  Once your dog is comfortable, then practice using the coat you’ve bought him, worn in small intervals if he’s particularly nervous.  Fit and comfort is everything, so be sure you’ve bought him something that doesn’t rub of chafe him.  Initially, boots should be put on your dog not at the beginning of the walk, but on the way back, which will capitalize on their desire to go home.  Of course, fabulous food rewards – my dogs will do anything for a jar of chicken baby food! – will be used to motivate your dog to play all of these games.  For those of you shaking your heads at the idea of doggie dress-ups, let me assure you that there is a payoff (beyond comfort) in this exercise.  All of the handling, attention and rewards will ultimately make the dogs more accepting of contact that they may not be so fond of initially, such as the vet holding his head still to look into his ear or picking up a foot to check his pads.  Dressing your dog, whether for comfort or just for “dress up”, when taught correctly, strengthens the relationship between you and your best (dressed) friend.

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Author: Kathy Santo

Kathy is a well known dog trainer. She is happy to share her best advice with you. Kathy is the owner of Kathy Santo Dog Training.


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