Most of us have done it. An adorable sweater, a stylish jacket, or even a silly costume, the majority of pet parents have tried to play dress up with their four-legged friends.
Follow these guidelines to make dressing your dog or cat a rewarding experience for you both!
Sure, most dogs and cats don’t need to wear clothes. There are exceptions, of course – in the winter, small and short-haired breeds will often require a sweater or jacket (at minimum) to protect them from the elements during walks and while playing outside. Even snow-loving long-haired dogs should wear protective footwear in extreme cold or heat or for protection from the elements. The hairless breeds regularly wear clothes to stay warm. And, a dog or cat that’s recently had surgery may need to wear clothing to protect an incision site.
Whatever your reason for playing dress up with your dog or cat, it’s important to proceed with caution and use some positive reinforcement so you don’t upset your pet.
Unless your dog or cat is accustomed to wearing elaborate outfits, keep it simple, realizing that dog and cat clothes might feel strange, make funny noises, and rub them in ways they aren’t used to. If your dog or cat isn’t used to being dolled up, ditch the elaborate dresses and opt for something easy like a bow-tie, hat, or simple t-shirt instead.
Always make sure anything you put on your pet is properly sized to fit! This is true of both collars and clothes. Make sure the outfit your dog or cat wears isn’t too tight (or too loose!) and doesn’t impede his ability to jump, move, or breathe.
Get your dog or cat used to the idea of wearing a costume early by leaving it out where he can see and smell it. After a while, lay the clothing across your pet’s back for a few moments to get him used to it. Be sure to reward your dog or cat with treats or playtime so he associates the outfit with positive things!
After your pet has had time to get used to an article of clothing or a costume, now you can try dressing him in it. Immediately after you put something on him, let him play with a favorite toy or chase after some high-value treats. He’ll soon realize the outfit isn’t going to paralyze him and he can move around freely in it. Provide plenty of praise, letting him know how happy seeing him in his new sweater makes you feel! An easy and rewarding way to dress your pet is with a Christmas Pet Santa Claus Hat!
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