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During cold weather, your dog may benefit from wearing winter dog clothes. But not every dog is eager to wear clothing items, no matter the season. If winter dog clothes for warmth are something your dog would benefit from, you can carefully introduce your dog to wearing them by developing positive associations with these items of dog clothing.

Getting Your Pet Used to Winter Dog Clothes

Make sure the winter dog clothes you have are properly sized. Gear that is too restrictive, tight, or loose-fitting can be uncomfortable for your dog. If dogs aren’t comfortable, they understandably won’t want to wear the clothes!

Ideally, you’d introduce your dog to wearing winter dog gear before the cold weather starts. This gives your dog time to become familiar with what you’re asking them to wear. Start the training somewhere with limited distractions. Train inside the house or in a quiet yard; somewhere where your dog feels relaxed.

Keep your training session short and fun. The goal is not to see how long your dog will wear the dog clothes before getting frustrated, but rather to build up their comfort level. Once your dog is comfortable in winter clothes, you can transition to taking them out for walks while they’re wearing them.

Chihuahua in the snow wearing a pink coat with hood

Introducing Dog Coats and Snowsuits

Dog coats or dog snowsuits help keep your pet warm while out and about. In most cases, introducing a dog to wearing a coat can be done relatively easily and quickly. If you have a dog who is especially gear-shy, select a coat that is easy to put on and doesn’t have to be pulled over their head.

Unlike dog coats, snowsuits cover not just a dog’s torso but also go down their legs. The additional coverage helps to keep dogs warmer, but some dogs can find adjusting to wearing these more difficult. Dogs who are already familiar with wearing coats often adjust to wearing snowsuits more quickly. If you want your dog to wear a snowsuit, start by introducing them to a coat, then use the same steps to introduce them to a snowsuit.

Teaching Your Dog to Wear a Coat

  1. Hold the coat out for your dog to sniff, or put it on the floor for your dog to investigate. Reward your dog for showing any interest in the coat.
  2. Put the coat on your dog. Reward them for wearing the coat, then immediately remove it.
  3. Continue practicing putting the coat on your dog, rewarding them while they are wearing it. In each training session, slowly build up the amount of time your dog spends in their coat.
  4. When your dog is comfortable wearing the coat for an extended period at home or in the yard, take them out to a more distracting environment while they’re in the coat.

If your dog ever pulls away from having their coat put on or tries to take it off, gently remove the coat. Start back with the earlier steps when you let your dog explore the coat; put the coat on, then immediately remove it. Then, slowly build up the amount of time your dog spends in the coat, pairing this with lots of treats and/or praise.

Dog wearing blue winter snowsuit and scarf
©Alex -

Introducing Dog Boots

Dog boots will protect a dog’s feet from cold, snow, ice, chemical deicers, and salt on neighborhood streets and sidewalks. Dog boots are often the most difficult item for dogs to get used to wearing.

Be sure to take your time getting your dog used to wearing dog boots. If your dog does not like having their feet handled, first work on desensitizing your dog to having their feet touched and handled.

Teaching Your Dog to Wear Boots

  1. Put the boots on the floor and let your dog explore them. Reward your dog for showing curiosity or interest in the boots, such as approaching and sniffing.
  2. Gently put one boot on your dog’s foot. Reward your dog, then immediately remove the boot.
  3. Repeat Step 2 with one boot, slowly increasing the amount of time your dog wears the boot with each session. While your dog is wearing the boot, give them lots of treats and/or praise. If your dog is toy-motivated, try to get them to play with toys while wearing the boot. If your dog tries to take off the boot, decrease the amount of time you’re asking your dog to keep it on. Go back to a high rate of reinforcement (how often you reward them) for wearing the boot.
  4. Once your dog is comfortably wearing one boot for an extended amount of time and eats treats or plays without trying to remove it, put on two boots and repeat the above steps. Slowly increase the amount of time your dog is wearing both boots while eating treats or playing.
  5. When your dog can wear two boots comfortably, repeat the above steps with the third and fourth boots. Make sure to keep giving your dog treats and/or praise and engaging them in play while they are wearing boots. The goal is to help the dog associate wearing boots with fun and rewarding things happening.
  6. When your dog can be comfortable in all four boots while eating treats or playing at home, take them out. Put on your dog’s boots, offering lots of treats and/or praise as usual, and then head out for a short walk. Continue to reward your dog. Start with short walks, allowing your dog to grow comfortable and develop confidence; eventually, you can build up to longer outings.

Introducing Dog Goggles

Dog goggles can protect your dog’s eyes from snow glare, UV rays from the sun, and wind. Goggles can also prevent debris from getting into your dog’s eyes while they are outside.

Teaching Your Dog to Wear Goggles

  1. Put the goggles on the ground. Let your dog approach and explore the item. Reward your dog for showing any interest or curiosity in the goggles or for engaging with them.
  2. Hold up the goggles. Let your dog continue to explore them, being sure to reward them for showing any interest in the goggles in your hand.
  3. Place the goggles in front of your dog’s face without buckling them on. Treat and/or praise your dog, then take the goggles away from your dog’s face.
  4. Repeat Step 3 a few times, until your dog has become comfortable with you putting goggles against their face. Then buckle the goggles on your dog; reward and immediately unbuckle the goggles. At this stage, we just want your dog to get comfortable having the goggles on.
  5. Once your dog is comfortable having the goggles buckled on, keep the goggles on for extended periods of time. Keep up a high reinforcement rate with your dog’s favorite rewards as you slowly build up the length of time that your dog is wearing the goggles. If you notice your dog pawing at the goggles or acting like they’re uncomfortable, remove the goggles. In your next practice session, increase your rate of reinforcement and ask your dog to wear the goggles for a shorter amount of time.
  6. Once your dog can comfortably wear their goggles for extended periods at home, incorporate wearing goggles on walks and outside activities your dog enjoys. As you increase the amount of time your dog wears the goggles, be sure to continue to pair the experience with rewards as reinforcement.
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