Have you been struggling to get your dog to wear the last dog sweater you have bought? Or have you been feeling pity for your doggie who has adamantly refused to dress up in the dog shirt or dog sweater you purchased for them during these cold months? Well, research has shown that not all dogs share your sentiments about wearing the warm coat or cute shirt. In fact, many of them will refuse or become aggressive if you insist on dressing them by force.

They key to getting your dog to start wearing their coats or other apparel without drama is starting this early enough- probably when they’re still little puppies. These (puppies) have been known to be more open to dressing experiments than older dogs. The three steps below will enable you to get your dog to start wearing coats and shirts without problems.

Introduce the dog sweater or shirt

The biggest challenge most dog owners face when trying to get their dogs to wear coats or shirts is lack of familiarity on the parts of their dogs.  Their dogs find the coats alien and extra weight to carry around- not appealing at all. The best way to avoid the dissent is to begin early enough so that the dog gets used to them. The best way to do this is with their sense of smell.

Let your dog smell the shirt and nothing else at the beginning. Rather than force the sweater or shirt on them (which is a bit intimidating for them) merely smelling the shirt is enough to remove the awkward rejection moments. This experience will help them familiarize with the feeling of having their sweater, which will, in turn, help you avoid the awkwardness.

Let them associate with the dog sweater/shirt

Practice always makes perfect. This is a strong factor when it comes to dog training. Getting your dog to completely feel and wear their shirts will take some time and practice. One strategy that has worked for many dog owners is treating around dressing time. Over the course of time, the dog starts to associate the coat with good things- food, play, etc. While some dogs will not mind having to dress up to eat, others will require a little more encouragement before they completely conform. The key in this phase is maintaining a level routine your dogs can follow. Patience on your part, if they don’t conform as fast as you want, will also help.

Reinforce the dressing of a dog sweater

After your dog has been introduced to shirts and coats, reinforce the practice. Start dressing them on a regular basis for them to get used to it. Start by dressing their head part alone for a few minutes and then remove it repeatedly as you observe them. Experiment with this until they can comfortably keep their shirts on for longer. While it might feel a bit weird on their part, move at their pace and don’t spook them. With time, you’ll realize that your dog is becoming more and more receptive to dressing up. Some might even anticipate the coats and shirts.

Over to you on dog sweaters

Getting your dog dressed up in a shirt or coat can seem like a huge uphill task unless you try. It simply starts with an introduction – getting your dog familiar with what you want to dress them. When this is followed by small gestures of repeat – creating a feel-good-routine around the dressing and finally reinforcing the routine in natural environments (without “bribes”) you can get your dog to get used to wearing coats and shirts. It’s also important to note that this strategy can be replicated when you’re dealing with other dog apparel like boots, raincoats, etc.