Train your dog to wear a bandana

The more dogs are integrated into our families, the more we humanize them, often treating them like hairy children rather than descendants of wolves. In fact, it’s no longer unusual to see dogs in bandanas, shirts, hats — even jewelry.

There are several reasons you might want to put your dog in a bandana. Perhaps your pet is is shy, reactive, needs space and you need them to wear a bandana to ask people not to approach or you are using it wet to cool your dog on a hot day. Maybe your dog is a pampered fashhound who sports designer clothing because, well, you like dressing your pooch up. Whatever the case, you can teach your pet to be comfortable in his new dog bandana by the combined use of patience and positive reinforcement training. Here's how to teach your pet to be the best-dressed dog on the block.

Start Early and Simple

Dogs are more likely to tolerate clothes if they are taught from puppyhood that it’s simply a part of life. Even if you don’t plan on regularly dressing up your dog, it’s best to teach your puppy to comfortably wear clothes while he's little, in case a change of outfit is needed at some point in his life, either for a special occasion or for maintaining proper body temperature.

But if your dog missed early puppy training, it’s not too late to train him to be accustomed to moving around with some clothes on.

Whether you’re working with a puppy or an adult dog, it’s best to begin with easy-to-wear clothing that’s comfortable and doesn’t cover the back legs, feet or head. Start with something easy like a bandana that can be adjusted and tied on. This eliminates the need to put an outfit on over your dog’s head, which can be frightening to some dogs.

Teach your dog to have a positive association with the bandana before he wears them by pulling out the bandana and treating your pet just for looking at the outfit. If he or she sniffs it, mark this moment with a “good” and reward. Next, move the bandana toward your dog and reward him for standing in place as you gently touch his side with the bandana. Drape the bandada over his back for a couple of seconds and reward him for standing there.

Start out with your pet wearing the bandana on walks or focus your dog’s attention on something productive that will distract him or her, such as eating a treat out of a food puzzle, doing tricks or playing.

As soon as the outfit is off, the treats, praise and fun times should be lessened so your dog realizes that a bandana mean fun and games. Eventually, your dog will not only tolerate wearing his or her bandana, but will actually enjoy it.

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