Although wearing the newest Burberry coat or Prada boots might be thrilling to you, your dog is, well, a dog. He's gotten on just fine with the coat and feet he arrived with. So if you're dressing him as a reflection of your personal style, you can't blame him if he'd rather live in his birthday suit. However, some dogs do need extra warmth and protection. Short-coated, very young, and frail, geriatric dogs are coat candidates. Some dogs' paws can't tolerate snow, ice, and ice-melting compounds used on sidewalks. And heavy-coated dogs collect ice balls between their pads and toes, which can be extremely uncomfortable.
You'll need to do a little training to teach your dog how much fun it can be to wear clothes. Start by dressing him in an oversize T-shirt -- a child-size shirt is big enough for small dogs. It will be easier and less upsetting to put his head and legs through than a tight sweater. Once your dog is comfortable, practice putting on the coat, allowing him to wear it around the house for short periods. Comfort is everything, so be sure to buy something that fits properly, that doesn't rub or chafe.
Put the boots on your dog at the end of the walk, not at the beginning, to capitalize on his desire to go home. You should give him fabulous rewards — my dogs will do anything for a jar of chicken baby food — to motivate him. For those shaking your heads at the idea of doggie dress-up, there's a payoff (besides his comfort). All the handling and attention will make him more accepting of contact he's not so fond of, such as the vet holding his head to look into his ear or picking up his foot to check his pad.
Trainer and behaviorist Kathy Santo is the author of Kathy Santo's Dog Sense.
Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc. Originally Published: Ask the Dog Shrink: Winterize Your Pup
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