The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

Clothing for Dogs

By Liz Palika

White Dog in Pink Coat and Boots

Dog clothes are not just for toy breeds carried in purses. Clothing and accessories for dogs to wear come in all shapes and sizes from Chihuahuas to Great Danes – and for many purposes. If you have a St. Bernard or Alaskan Malamute, your dog won’t need a winter jacket, but how about some boots to protect their paws from road salt and other chemicals?

Dog Clothing Options

If you browse through dog supplies, you’ll find many options for dog clothing and accessories. Most are strictly decorative, but clothing for dogs has its benefits.

Coats and Sweaters

Winter clothing is important for many dogs, especially in colder climates. Short-hair dogs such as Doberman PinschersJack Russell TerriersRat TerriersMiniature Pinschers, and Greyhounds feel the cold quickly and may start shivering long before we do. These dogs appreciate a sweater in the house and a jacket outside on cold days and nights.

Rain Jackets

Rain jackets have become popular for dogs of many sizes and can protect them in the cold, rain, and snow. They offer advantages for you too because your dog won’t get as wet while walking in the rain meaning less time you spend drying them off.

Boots

Boots are especially important in cold climates, both to protect your dog’s paws from salt and chemicals, but also to protect their paws from snow and ice building up between their pads. They also provide more traction. Boots can also be used on hot summer days when the asphalt is hot and could burn their paws.

Be sure to gets boots that fit your dog correctly. Dog boot companies offer detailed instructions for proper sizing, and it’s important to follow their directions. Your dog will be just as uncomfortable with poorly fitted boots as you are with ill-fitting shoes.

How to Introduce Your Dog to Clothes and Boots

What you’ll need:

  • Old tee shirt
  • Socks
  • Lots of treats
  • A good attitude

Introducing your dog to clothes and boots can be tough if they have never worn them before. Keep treats on hand and an old tee shirt that can be used as a rag. Drape it over your dog, praise them, and give them a treat. Remove the shirt and do it again. Toss it over his shoulders, back, or hips while laughing and petting them – make a game out of it. Stop while your dog is still happy and give them lots of love.

The next day, put one of your dog’s legs through the arm of the shirt, praise your dog, and give them a treat. Do this with each leg in turn, one at a time, and then put their head through the neck opening of the tee shirt. Again, keep it fun.

Use a couple of old socks (even if they’re too big for your dog) and place them on two of your dog’s paws. Laugh, giggle, pet your dog, and give them a treat. Wrap a scarf around your dog, put some earmuffs on them, and even a hat. During all of this, your goal is to teach your dog that wearing things like this is fun. You’re also teaching your dog that they can trust you.

Then, when you get boots or a winter jacket for your dog, introduce them the same way. Keep it light-hearted, fun, and use treats to reward them for their cooperation.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe in Clothing

Whether you’re looking at clothes to keep your dog warm inside, protective clothing for winter, decorative clothing, or boots, make sure the items fit your dog correctly. Clothing should be comfortable and should not constrict their movements. It shouldn’t rub under their front legs or in the groin. Their tail needs to be free and they should be able to relieve themselves.

When asking your dog to wear clothes of any kind, keep an eye on them. They can get a leg out of the leg hole and get tangled, the clothes could rub them raw, or they could panic. Supervise them and check that everything fits, is safe, and is worn correctly. Make sure that your dog doesn’t get overheated, especially when wearing something in the house.

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