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How To Train Your Dog To Wear Clothes

If you love dogs, then your Instagram feed is probably flooded with pictures of adorable dogs. Not only are these dogs perfectly posed and adorable, they’re also dressed in cute little fashionista outfits. While we may not feel the urge to get our dog that dressed up, sometimes it would be nice if we could get a simple bandana on without her pawing it right off.

And sometimes, clothing items are a necessity for our dog’s wellbeing. Winter booties and socks keep them warm and their paws safe from harsh winter conditions. Rain jackets and coats are also great for dogs more susceptible to cold.

If you would like your dog to wear winter booties without just falling over, or to slip on a sweater without stopping in his tracks, we have some helpful tips. Keep reading to find out how to train your dog to wear clothes.

Why Don’t Dogs Like Clothes?

Some dogs have very strange reactions to having clothing of any type put on them. Some will roll, some scoot their entire body across the floor to “scrape” them off, some will freeze in place and refuse to move, and some will just fall over.

Obviously, dogs aren’t used to wearing clothes. Just like it feels a little weird putting jeans on after a weekend spent in joggers, the clothes feel strange and restrictive to your dog.

For some dogs, the feeling of their body being covered in so many places at once can cause a little bit of sensory overload. This is why so many dogs freeze or fall over when you place a shirt on them.

dog in striped sweater how to train your dog to wear clothes

Your dog may also be uncomfortable due to the fabric. You may find that your dog reacts poorly to some articles of clothing but not others. It may be that they find the fabric itchy, or the item is too heavy and not breathable enough for your dog’s hair type.

It isn’t just sweaters and shirts that get strange reactions from dogs. If you live in a cold climate, you may have tried putting booties on your dog. Most dogs seem to forget how to walk the minute they realize something is on their feet.

Dogs are used to being able to feel the ground under their paws. A covering over their feet is suddenly removing sensations they’re used to. Another thing to keep in mind is that many dogs aren’t exactly fans of having their feet handled.

Why Your Dog Might Need Clothes

Besides looking Insta-ready, there are several reasons you might want to put clothes on your dog. The weather is the most important one. Not every dog is well suited to the climate they live in, and senior dogs are going through changes that decrease their ability to handle heat and cold.

Small delicate breeds, dogs without double coats, arthritic or elderly pups, and sick dogs need an extra layer of protection in cold weather. These dogs can benefit from a sweater or a jacket in colder weather.

On the other hand, in the summer, some dogs may be in danger of overheating. Cooling vests will help your dog maintain his body temperature, protect from UV rays, and decrease the risk of heatstroke.

A bandana can be handy to have in all weather. The point can be extended down over the chest protecting it against the cold. It can also be dampened in the heat to help keep your dog cool.

If you can get your dog used to clothes, you can also help alert people of any quirks. If you have a dog with anxiety, fear aggression, or who is doing a training session, a bandana or vest warning people to approach carefully can be helpful.

Shoes might seem like the strangest thing to put on your dog. After all, they have extra thick paw pads, and dogs were made for walking outside. This is true, but there are definitely instances in which your dog’s feet need a little extra protection. On days that are colder than usual, if your dog will be walking on hot pavement, if you will be hiking in rocky terrain, these are all reasons your dog’s feet may need extra protection.

Your vet may recommend your dog wear clothes because of certain conditions.

  • Orthopedic problems- Dogs with bad hips are often placed in footwear to reduce the impact on their joints.

  • Anxiety- If you have a dog with storm anxiety or some other situational anxiety disorder, your dog’s vet may recommend a garment like the Thundershirt. These shirts or vests apply gentle pressure to areas that are shown to help soothe anxious animals.

  • To stop licking- If your dog is licking due to hot spots, a wound, or recent surgery, instead of a huge Elizabethan Collar (aka “the cone of shame), a medical shirt may be recommended. A shirt is less stressful than the e-collar and your dog will be able to reach food and water more easily.

Getting Your Dog Used to Wearing Clothes

As with any training, start slowly and be patient. Training a younger dog to wear clothes will be easier than training an older dog. Don’t give up! Older dogs can get used to clothes too.

  • Introduce the clothing items slowly. Let your dog sniff them, and as they sniff, offer them a treat. The trick is to give them positive associations.

  • Touch your dog with the clothes, and let him get used to the feel. Try draping it over your dog and leaving it there for a few seconds. Offer treats and praise.

  • Put the clothes on your dog. Start with only leaving them on for a few seconds, and work your way up. Distract them with their favorite toy to try and get them to forget they’re dressed. And of course, give them treats and praise!

  • Once your dog seems comfortable, try taking them outside. If they show reluctance to move, take the clothes off, and keep trying.

Use the same method to get your dog comfortable wearing shoes. If your dog does not like having his feet handled, you will want to focus on building a positive association with foot handling first.

dog in bandana how to train your dog to wear clothes

Starting the training process? A bandana is a useful and easy starter garment. Start your dog’s wardrobe with a few cute and practical Dog-Friendly Living bandanas to get them used to clothing items. And with hard, consistent work, they’ll be wearing that sweater and booties in no time!


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