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Aside from being fashionable, putting clothes on your dog can also be functional. If you have an older dog with circulatory problems or a dog with a thin or short coat, a doggie sweater can help keep them warm. A doggie raincoat can reduce the time you spend cleaning and drying your pet companion after being out in rainy weather. Dog clothes can also protect light-colored dogs from getting sunburned and they can make your dog seem more approachable, which can improve his social skills. Regardless what fashion statement you're trying to make, ensuring that your dog is comfortable wearing clothes should be your first priority.
Teach your dog from a young age to wear clothes if you plan on dressing him up when he's grown. During puppyhood your pet companion doesn't know any better and is more likely to allow you to put clothes on him. Adult dogs who were taught to dress up as puppies are more tolerant to wearing clothes.
Easy On, Easy Off
Select clothing that is easy to put on when you first start teaching your dog to wear clothes. Avoid items that are too tight or too loose, and stay away from clothes you have to pull over his head or that cover his legs and feet. Look for clothes that fasten on his tummy or chest. Once your dog is used to wearing these easy clothes, you can gradually introduce him to sweaters and shirts that go over his head.
Introducing The Clothing
Step #1 - Show your dog the clothes you want to put on him. Allow him to sniff and explore the clothing. Say "good boy," and reward him with a treat when he shows interest in the clothes.
Step #2 - Hold the dog clothes in your hand and rub it against your pet companion's side. Praise him for staying calm and slowly drape the clothing over your dog's back. Reward him again for remaining calm. Slowly start fastening the clothing straps while praising your pet companion for standing still.
Step #3 - Give your dog a chew toy or a food-stuffed dog toy to play with while he's wearing the doggie clothes. The toy will distract him so he doesn't pay attention to the clothes he's wearing. Meanwhile, keep reinforcing his good behavior by praising him.
Step #4 - Remove your dog's clothes after one minute and repeat the dress-up session the next day. This time, keep the clothes on him a little longer. Avoid moving too fast -- observe your dog, and if he seems to tolerate the clothes, increase the duration to five minutes. If this goes well, increase it to 10 minutes the following day. If your pet companion seems stressed, go back to one-minute dress-up sessions. Reduce the amount of attention and praise you give your dog after removing the clothes -- he'll start associating the clothes with getting praised and won't mind wearing them.
By Kimberly Caines
Dogs 500 Questions Answered; Caroline Davis
Your Dog: The Owner's Manual: Hundreds of Secrets, Surprises, and Solutions for Raising a Happy, Healthy Dog; Marty Becker
Vetstreet: Teach Your Dog to Wear Clothes
DogTipper.com: Training Your Dog to Wear Clothes
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.