How to Dress Your Pets Without Them Getting Mad at You

Sparky looks adorable in a cute pink dress, but it's hard to get the dress/clothes on your pet without being scratched or bitten.


  1. Train your pet in basic obedience. No pet should be asked to wear clothes unless they trust you and respond calmly to the basic obedience commands: sit, down, stay, come, heel. Pets trained to basic obedience with food rewards or a clicker respond well to learning to wear clothes.
  2. Gather your supplies. Before you find the perfect outfit, a dress, tutu, shirt and pants, or just a hat, practice with small pieces of clothing and lots of treats. A bandana or oversize tee shirt (oversize for your pet, that is) is a good way to start.
  3. Have your pet 'sit' or 'down. '
  4. Reward your pet with a tiny treat. You will be using lots of treats. Pets feel rewarded by just a taste of treat, so you can give many many rewards even if they are tiny.
  5. Show your pet the bandana. Let him sniff it and treat him.
  6. Lay the bandana around his neck. Say "Get Dressed" or a similar command that you will use in the future. Reward and praise for calm behavior.
  7. Remove the bandana and repeat the last step until your dog is calm and accepting of the bandana.
  8. End your practice session on a positive note. If your pet is chewing at the bandana or shaking it off or resisting in some other way, go back to just showing the bandana and rewarding calm sniffing. Stop when you have calm behavior. Practice sessions should last only 5 or 6 minutes.
  9. Practice in short sessions once or twice a day until your pet will calmly wear the bandana without shaking, scratching or biting.
  10. Practice with a harder piece of clothing. Once the pet is not concerned about wearing a bandana, practice with an over-sized pet tee-shirt. The shirt should be big enough that the pet's head fits easily through the neck. Using the same command, "Get Dressed," show the tee-shirt to the pet, then gather up the sides of the shirt and gently slide just the neck over the pet's head. You should then have a pet wearing a tee-shirt like a big bunchy collar. No legs through arm holes yet!
  11. Repeat the neck hole practice until your pet is calm and unconcerned about the tee-shirt around his neck. Remember, always end each practice session on a positive note. Go back a step if necessary.
  12. Train your pet to put his legs through the sleeves. Using the same graduated training, put the tee-shirt around your pets neck as in the previous step (still using the "Get Dressed" command and treats.) Put one hand through one sleeve from the outside of the tee-shirt to the inside. Gently raise your pet's front paw and draw it through the sleeve. STOP if there is resistance and just practice to that point.
  13. Continue practicing until your pet calmly lets you dress him in a tee-shirt and wears it without fighting you or the tee-shirt.
  14. Find that perfect outfit.
  15. Make sure the size is right. You may need to measure your pet. It is better to have the clothes a little to big than too small.
  16. Dress your pet in his new clothes and you can both enjoy the attention he gets.
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