Hello hello, and welcome back to Teacher’s Pet, a column on all things training! Every other #TrainingTuesday, Brussels.Sprout, will share his how-tos for learning new tricks, updates on his own adventures in agility competition, and his favorite tips for helping you and your pup bond over training.
Best Dressed: Help Your Pet Feel Comfortable in Clothes
Let’s be honest – Sprout wears a lot of non-essential clothing. In case you’re wondering, he doesn’t run around all day in bat wings, so a lot of the outfits are just for photos shoots.
In the winter, however, clothing becomes an essential. Sprout’s tiny little body doesn’t retain heat well on its own, and that’s true of many dogs who are small, lean, low-riders, short-coated, elderly or ill. Sorry Huskies, but you probably don’t need a puffer coat.
But what if your dog needs a coat but isn’t comfortable wearing it? Here are our tips for helping your dog look good and feel good.
1. Fit matters: Make sure your dog is comfortable. Can he move freely? Is a fastener poking or rubbing against her? If your dog has longer fur, you may also want to look for sweaters and coats with snaps so you don’t risk getting your dog’s hair stuck in a zipper.
2. Make it a Training Game: For Sprout, getting dressed has become another trained behavior no different than asking him for a hi-five. Try approaching it like teaching your dog to get used to his coat… Check out our video at the end to learn how to do this!
3. Positive Vibes: Does your dog hate the coat or… does he hate the association it and knowing it means he’s about to be forced outside to poop in snow? Once he’s used to putting the coat on, try to build some positive or neutral associations with it. You can give him a treat once he’s dressed, put it on and taking it off without going outside, or wear it around the house for brief periods (just don’t let him overheat, though).
4. The Grand Finale: Taking the coat off is just as important as putting it on. Some dogs may feel uncomfortable having something pulled off over their heard or, like Sprout, be terrified of velcro. True story. When I was a brand new puppy parent who knew nothing, I went to great lengths to make sure Sprout was OK when I put his new raincoat on… but when we came back inside I ripped off the velcro jacket without thinking twice and he understandably freaked out at the loud weird noise coming from near his neck. So, we then spent some time practiced getting him used to the velcro sound.
5. Listen to your Dog. This is always so important. Hopefully these tips help your dog get accustomed to his spiffy coat or sweater, but at the end of the day if he’s still really uncomfortable don’t push it. Limit the coat to only the coldest of cold days or take other steps to help keep stay warm, such as going on shorter, less frequent walks or, if he’s small enough to be carried around like a burrito, wrap him in a warm towel on your way in and outside. And definitely stay away from non-essential clothes.
Stay warm and cozy, my friends!
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