Some dogs need a coat. Usually, these are breeds that are completely or partially naked, with a light coat without an undercoat, small breed dogs and also…Puppies! Not everyone says this, but until about 5 months of age all puppies, even large hairy breeds, should have their clothes on when temperatures drop below freezing and walking is not active (e.g. we go with our dog to training and do stationary exercises; we take our dog shopping and stand in line outside with him; we take him for a walk with the kids and make a snowman while the dog sits next to us and waits patiently for us to finish). This is connected with the emerging thermoregulation of the young body.
Unfortunately, as it is not natural for dogs to dress in fabrics, many of them find it hard to accept that we try to put something on them, even though the clothes would make them feel much better on cold days! Remember, if your dog doesn’t want to wear a jumper, it doesn’t mean he’s being silly or inconsiderate, let alone doing you a favour. He just hasn’t learnt yet that there are many benefits to wearing it and that it won’t harm him. Quite a few dogs are initially uncomfortable with something on their body (some are hard to convince to wear a regular harness!), so it takes time and patience to convince them that wearing something can be pleasant after all.
The best thing is to teach the dog to dress from the very beginning – still, in the family nest, the breeder should get the little balls used to the fact that something is put on them. However, not everywhere such practices are applied, so it is we, having a puppy at home, who should take care of it. But if you have already missed the hottest moment, don’t stress J Most dogs, even adults can be used to putting on clothes, if only it is done properly, respecting their privacy zone, being attentive to stress signals that dogs show when they are uncomfortable. Remember, that every dog is different and may need different times to go through each stage of the exercise – follow your dog, do not do anything by force and do not try to speed up the course of events, because „he who does quickly, does twice”.
1) During the session DO NOT TOUCH the dog – everything he does with the coat should be done on his initiative – any attempts to hold the dog, immobilize him, etc., will not help and may even destroy the whole exercise.
2) In one hand hold the garment rolled up in such a way that it is a narrow strip of material and forms something like a chimney for the neck. Make sure the opening is wide apart, on the other hand, hold a treat.
3) When the dog shows interest in the rolled-up jumper (touches its nose or if it doesn’t, when it looks), say „yes!”, praise GOOD, GOOD DOG! and give a treat, taking the clothes away. Repeat 3-4 times, play with or pet the dog for a while, then say END and go back to your business, ignoring the dog.
4) When the dog immediately targets the clothes (touches them with its nose), move on to the next step.
5) Hold the garment with one hand as in point 2), but the other hand through the loop so that the dog does not have to touch the garment at all when it wants to eat it. When the dog decides to reach for the treat, say „YES!” while moving his head, praise GOOD, GOOD DOG! and let him eat the treat, after a moment takes the clothes. Repeat 3-4 times, play with or pet the dog for a while, then say END and go back to your business, ignoring the dog.
6) With each successive session „hide” the hand in the garment more and more (the pace is dictated by the dog) so that eventually the hand with the treat is on the other side of the opening of the rolled-up jumper, and the dog, wanting to eat the treat, has to put the very tip of its nose through the loop.
7) Once the dog is happy to put his nose outside the loop to eat the treat, increase the difficulty level and place the hand with the treat a little further behind the loop so that the dog has to put his whole mouth through the loop to eat the treat. Then say „Yes” and praise GOOD! Repeat 3-4 times, remembering to let the dog freely withdraw from the loop, then play with or pet the dog for a while, say END and go back to your business, ignoring the dog.
8) When the dog eagerly puts its mouth into the loop with the treat, move your hand further away so that the dog has to put its whole head through the loop to eat the treat (this stage can still be broken up into halves). The point is to make the dog push more and more courageously on the loop with its head so that it gains courage, therefore the harder it pushes, the more intensively we praise.
9) When the dog put his head behind the treat without any problem, give him the jumper, showing your hand on the other side, but without the treat in your hand (have it ready), when the dog put his head back, say „YES!” and FAST give some treats one after another with your other hand, praising the dog all the time GOOD, GOOD DOG, SUPER! Repeat this 3-4 times, play with the dog for a while or stroke it, then say END and go back to your business, ignoring the dog. In subsequent sessions, simply increase the time between treats, but praise your dog with your voice the whole time. Remember to increase the time non-linearly, i.e. instead of 1s, 2s, 4s, 10s, 13s, etc., increase it alternately 1s, 3s, 2s, 6s, 3s, 10s, 7s, 14s, 10s, etc. This way the dog won’t know when he will get the reward, so he will wait the whole time.
10) Practice the above in as many sessions as it takes for your dog to willingly put his head in the rolled-up jumper and hold it in while calmly waiting for a treat. Once you have such a stage, add gradual unfolding of the jumper on the dog’s body (don’t put the paws through yet!) and work in a similar way as in point 5 at the beginning, at the same time reducing the time of being in the jumper (we add a new criterion – unfolding of the material on the body, so the other – the length of the exercise, we lower).
11) Parallel to the session with putting the head, practice with your dog to get used to putting his paws through the legs of the jumper.
12) At the beginning you can practice with a rolled-up jumper and a hole for the head, and as the dog gets good at it, redo the sessions with tighter holes for the paws. With one hand hold the dog’s paw at the end of the elbow, bring the other hand with the rolled-up jumper close to the dog’s paw and lightly touch for about 1s. When the dog remains calm, say „yes!”, praise GOOD, GOOD DOG! and give a treat, taking the clothes away. Repeat 3-4 times, play with or pet the dog for a while, then say END and go back to your business, ignoring the dog.
13) Touch both of your dog’s paws in this way, gradually lengthening the time of touching and then its intensity (e.g. lightly grab the paw with your hand through the jumper), gradually moving the jumper closer and closer to the pad of your dog’s paw (i.e. we run the sessions from the elbow, through the forearm, until we eventually touch the pads of your dog’s paws, so that he gradually gets used to the movement of the jumper on his paws)
14) Once the dog tolerates the paw grip and the jumper touching without any problem, in subsequent sessions put the bottom of the paw through the hole for 1s. the bottom of the paw through the hole in the jumper, say „yes!”, praise GOOD, GOOD DOG! and give a treat, taking the clothes away. Repeat 3-4 times, play with or pet the dog for a while, then say END and go back to your business, ignoring the dog.
15) You repeat the above, gradually increasing the time you keep the paw threaded through the leg, you can at some point put the paw dressed in the leg on the floor, rewarding with treats and praising the dog, then you take the jumper away.
16) If your dog has a problem with being touched at all, let alone having a paw in his hand, separately do paw touching sessions and divide them into the following stages:
- touching the dog’s shoulder
- sliding hand from shoulder to elbow
- sliding your hand from the shoulder to the elbow and grasping the elbow with your hand
- sliding a hand from a shoulder to a forearm
- sliding the hand from the shoulder to the forearm and grasping the elbow with the palm of your hand
- sliding the hand from the shoulder to the paw
- sliding a hand from shoulder to paw and grasping the paw with the hand
- grab paw with hand and hold for 1s
- holding and prolonging the hold in the hand
- hold and raise for 1s
- holding and prolonging the paw hold in the hand