Is Dressing Up Our Puppy Right?

by Rob Hainer
Dogs with short hair might need a sweater in cooler weather.

Dogs with short hair might need a sweater in cooler weather.

Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

People dress dogs for a variety of reasons, sometimes for the dog's benefit or maybe because they think it's cute. Regardless of the reason, dressing up your puppy helps her get used to wearing clothes early so you don't have to battle training an adult dog. It can keep your puppy warm and dry while helping you express yourself.

Why Dress Up?

Dressing your puppy multiplies her cuteness factor, which is often reason enough to coordinate her outfit. But some practical reasons exist as well. When it's cold outside, especially if there's snow and ice, your puppy might appreciate some clothes to keep her warm, such as a sweater or light coat. Dogs that don't like to go outside in the rain can enjoy raincoats, hats and booties. Protective dog booties keep your puppy's feet from getting ice or rock salt on them in the winter or hiking dogs from tearing their pads on rough terrain.

Hair Length

Your puppy's hair length helps determine whether it's safe or helpful to dress her. Long-haired dogs might become overheated when dressed up -- even during the winter -- but you can add simple accessories such as hats or light scarves without fear. Short-haired breeds, especially small ones such as Chihuahuas who don't have much body fat, often benefit from a light layer of clothing when the weather cools. Watch for signs of lethargy or heavy panting; remove the clothes immediately because your dog is getting too hot.

Clothes Safety

Puppies are notorious chewers, so pick your pup's clothes carefully to ensure they are safe for her to wear. Don't buy any that have pieces she can chew off and potentially choke on, such as tags, buttons, zippers or decorations such as rhinestones. Older dogs might not mess with their clothes, but puppies often will. The clothes should fit well without being tight. If the outfit is too loose, it can trip your puppy or become more of a toy than an ensemble. Clothes that are too tight can choke your pup or rub her in areas such as under her front legs. PetMD recommends sticking to clothes that cover your dog's front but not her rear. Your pup needs to be able to go to the bathroom without worrying about waiting on you to remove clothing.

Training

It might take your pup a little while to get used to wearing clothes. Be patient and give her some time to acclimate before keeping her dressed for long periods. After you dress her, praise her with lots of hugs and kisses, then try to keep her distracted with treats or toys. Keep the first session short, about five minutes long before undressing her. Try again later, still praising and distracting her, but leave the clothes on for 10 minutes. Move up to 15 minutes, and gradually continue to increase the time increments until she doesn't seem to notice she has clothing on.

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Rob Hainer began writing and editing for newspapers in 1992. He began his career as a photojournalist in the Army, and studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He worked as a copy editor and reporter at "The Marietta Daily Journal," the "Spartanburg Herald-Journal" and the "New Haven Register."

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