Does your dog hate wearing clothes?

Updated 23 October 2023
Read time: 4 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham

A Whippet dog in a knitted beige jumper, with a tiny Santa hat on its head, against a beige background



Owning a pooch is a big responsibility. Their health, nutrition, walkies and playtime is all in your capable hands - oh, and keeping them looking absolutely adorable of course.


When you think about how they’re looking on the outside, the first thing that probably comes to mind is what pooch-iful outfit you can adorn them in. But before you go ahead filling their wardrobe with statement pieces, it’s really important you consider how they feel when wearing them.


Their safety and wellbeing must always come first, so we’re here to help you spot the signs of whether your pooch is happy or not.

Different types of dog clothes


There’s a big difference between dressing your dog up for vanity, and necessity. 


We’re not saying it’s wrong to want to dress them up in those cute fancy-dress outfits - but you may need to reconsider pursuing it if they’re visibly distressed.


On the other hand, if it’s freezing cold outside and you have a small, short-haired breed who hates wearing warm clothes (but it’s in their best interest to) - this is where building up their confidence to do so is important.


Simply put, it’s up to you as a dog owner to make the right choice for them, based on what you see and know.

How to safely dress your dog in clothes

So, you’ve got their fancy-dress outfit/jumper/coat/whatever-else-you-want-to-dress-them-in at the ready. 


You need to make them feel as comfortable as possible, and work through the below steps slowly:


  • Have the clothing out and visible for them to investigate BEFORE you try putting them on. Allow them to have a good sniff and familarise themselves with the item
  • Get them to come over to you. Invading their safe space to put clothes on could cause negative association
  • Once they’ve come over, use optimistic and reassuring language, feed them some Pooch and Mutt treats for positive association, and let them sniff the clothing again
  • Very slowly, start to put the clothing on them. Continue using positive language, and consider the most comfortable way to get them into it
  • Squeezing them into something that’s too tight, bending them into unnatural positions, or noticing that they’re distressed isn’t ‘comfortable’ - so you should stop straight away
  • If they seem happy and have allowed you to put them into the outfit, then reward them with a tasty Pooch & Mutt treat so they know the ‘task’ is complete and positive associations with wearing the clothes can be made
  • If your pooch hasn't worn anything before, they might need time to get used to the item and build-up their time wearing it again. Don't worry if you need to take a break, and come back to it another time to try again.


At this point, you need to closely watch their behaviour and check for any signs of discomfort or distress. 


A dog dressed as a ghost with a sheet over it, with some Halloween balloons against an orange background

Signs that your dog doesn’t like wearing clothes


If your dog doesn’t like wearing their clothes - you might not be able to tell immediately. Keep a close watch on your pooch to spot any signs of upset. These are some of the things to look out for:


  • Being vocal, restless and attempting to take the outfit off
  • Looking tense and not moving
  • Their tail is tucked, ears are flat and they’re turning their head away
  • Excessively licking their lips or yawning - these are called ‘calming signals’
  • Showing signs of aggression and frustration 
  • Panting (which could show they're stressed and/or hot)


You know your fur baby better than anyone - so you’re likely to be able to tell pretty quickly if they’re not happy. If you notice any of the above, you should take their clothes off straight away.

How do I make my dog feel happier wearing clothes?


If you need to get them into clothes for their health and wellbeing (e.g. they’ve had an operation and need to wear a vest, it’s cold outside which could cause illness etc.) then it might be worth trying again.


Here are some top tips:


  • Leave some time between your last attempt so they don’t feel overwhelmed
  • Try at a different time of day when they might be feeling a little more relaxed
  • Feed food and treats from our Calming Range during the lead up to them wearing their clothes. The ingredients in these products can naturally and safely help them feel calmer
  • Don’t force it. The last thing you want is for them to keep having a bad experience. If you’ve tried a few times without success, then maybe speak to your vet for advice

A grey and white whippet, wearing a red tartan scarf, with our Christmas Cheese Fondue Dental Sticks, against a beige background


Alternatives to fashion clothes for dogs

If clothes just aren’t your pooch’s forte, but you’re looking to create some cute pet content for Instagram - there are plenty of other things you can do! 


You could use props and create a seasonal scene for your dog to pose amongst, use a social ‘filter’ so you can visualise how they’d look in the real thing, or dress them in accessories (which are much less obtrusive) - such as a bandana, decorative harness, collar, collar charm, or bow tie.


Comments (1)

Such an interesting read on understanding our furry friends’ preferences! If you ever find yourself on the lookout for dog clothes that prioritize both comfort and style, I recommend checking out Posh Puppy Boutique. Their curated collection ensures that dogs not only stay cozy but also look incredibly chic.

Sharon Jones - Dec 13 2023

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