How To Dress Up Your Dog: A First-Time Fur Parent’s Guide

For most dog parents, dressing up your beloved pooch can be a lot of fun. It’s a light-hearted way for you to show your affection and to share their adorable look with the world.

That said, it’s wise to consider how dressing up your dog can make them feel and if they’re truly enjoying it as much as you are. This article shares some tips and strategies when dressing up your pet to ensure it’s a stress-free and fun experience.

active dog in orange winter vest
  • Introduce Dog Clothes Gradually

The first rule of dressing up your dog is to never force your pup into their outfit right away. Most pets are terrified by the new smell and feel of the material, which can cause them to respond negatively.

Ideally, you should introduce dog outfits earlier. Much like other types of dog training, starting doggy dress up from puppyhood can help foster positive behavioral patterns and associations with outfits. Introducing your pet to dog clothes during this time can help make the process feel natural later on. However, whether you have an older dog or just recently become interested in dog outfits, you need to introduce outfit-wearing with enough patience.

Experts recommend that you slow things down and help your pooch familiarize themselves with their new outfit. You can let your dog sniff the material or lay it across their back so they can feel its texture. Depending on how your dog reacts, you need to continue doing this for several days to build up their confidence and positively engage with their clothing.

  • Experiment With Styles

Not all humans like the same apparel, so why would dogs be any different? Some pooch like antler headbands or cute headgear, while others hate something around their ears.

Some pups may be scared of noisy bells around their shirts, while others love the jiggling sounds. You can buy dog coats for sale to keep them warm during winter, but some dogs may prefer nothing on their back when running through the snow.

Just because one type of dog apparel doesn’t work on your pet doesn’t mean that all won’t. In general, you only need to find the right style they’ll love. So, try out different styles and materials. What one pooch finds cozy, another will find itchy.

Your dog’s breed and type of coat may also factor into how they respond to clothing. So, keep this in mind when shopping for the right clothing for your pet.

doodle puppy in hoodie
  • Measure Your Pooch

The right fit ensures your dog’s comfort and safety. As such, before buying any dog clothes, make sure to take your pup’s measurements and look at the clothes’ sizing chart. In general, you’ll have to measure your dog’s neck, length, and girth.

If you can’t find a size that matches your measurement to a seller’s size chart, always opt for a bigger size to ensure your dog’s comfort.

  • Prioritize Safety

When buying dog apparel, there are a few basic safety rules you need to keep in mind. These rules can help prevent the risk of injuries in your dog.

First off, make sure that your dog can move comfortably while wearing clothing. Dogs have an innate drive to move around and sniff their surroundings. Thus, you should always look for clothing that allows them to roam around freely without constricting their movement.

An outfit that’s too tight can restrict their breathing, which can be dangerous if they like to run around. Also, make sure that their outfit doesn’t restrict their senses and they can still hear and see their surroundings.

Check for any choking hazards in clothing. A lot of dog costumes have buttons and small parts that may be chewed on or swallowed by your dog. Opt for lightweight outfits if possible. Keep in mind that your dog already has a fur coat and may easily get overheated when roaming around with thick clothing. Make sure that the outfit is breathable and doesn’t weigh your dog down.

Additionally, avoid buying outfits that are covered in chemicals or scented, which can be harmful to your dog. Lastly, never ever leave them alone in an outfit since there are too many ways they could become stuck or get hurt.

dog in red knit seater
  • Observe Their Body Language

When dressing up your pooch, observe their body language. You may think that your pooch looks adorable when they’re all dolled up, but if their head is lowered with their ears flat, and they look around nervously, then your dog may be distressed.

If you see signs of discomfort, remove their outfit right away and try again with another style next time.


While there’s nothing more adorable than your pooch decked out in cute apparel, it’s important to remember that your pet’s comfort and safety should be your priority in any dress-up situation. So, make sure to follow the above-mentioned tips and advice to ensure that your pet stays cute and stress-free at the same time.

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