People dress up their dogs for many different reasons. Some people do it to reflect their personalities, others do it to provide safety or comfort for their dogs. Still others choose to dress their dogs up only for special events, and some do it just for fun.

Protective Clothing for Dogs

Have you ever heard someone commenting about bad weather and saying, “I wouldn’t even let my dog out on a day like this!” You’ve heard this expression before, but have you truly considered what it means for your canine companion?

Granted, some dogs seem to enjoy bad weather, but we haven’t witnessed a large number of dogs racing with gleeful abandonment into the driving rain, sleet and snow. If you think bad weather leaves something to be desired . . . isn’t your pooch entitled to the same opinion?

We think of shorthaired dogs as the ones prone to discomfort in rain and cold, but consider how heavier coated dogs feel once wet. To get an idea, put on that favorite heavy wool sweater your Aunt Edna gave you, stand in the shower until wet, shake vigorously, then lounge around the house for the evening.

The point here is that a little protection can mean a lot. You can always go outside with the umbrella, but a more practical solution may be to outfit good old Lassie with a sweater or coat for cold conditions and repellant rain gear for those wet days. The comfort advantages to your pal should be obvious, but the reduced hassle and time you then need to spend drying the dog and cleaning up the mess in the house is an added bonus.

A Word About Cooperation
Common dog sense suggests that not every pooch is waiting eagerly to don foul weather gear, but don’t despair. Patience and familiarity will win the day, and a few choice snacks for good behavior won’t hurt.

And make no mistake: dogs do have feelings. Pointing and laughing is not appropriate. It’s akin to truthfully answering the “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” question. Exuberant praise is a much better strategy at all times, and unlike your spouse, your dog will accept your first answer.

Clothing for Safety

Here are some accessories that you should consider for canine safety:

  • Booties for dogs who exercise in snowy and icy conditions and on hot pavement. (Although if conditions are that bad, you might rethink the need to be out in it with your poor dog!) Foot protection has real merit. Do some research to find well-fitting booties and quality materials that can withstand the abuse.
  • Reflective vests. Every dog who is walked near roads should have one of these—period! Denying your pooch this protection is like taking away your kid’s bike helmet.
  • A collar flashlight to help your dog stay visible on dark trails or roads. Every little bit helps.
  • Life jackets to help your seafaring dog stay afloat. While they may not be Coast Guard Tested and Approved, it makes sense that an overboard dog stands a better chance of being saved if he’s more visible. Test the flotation adequacy on your dog before you have to use it and look for the same flotation material used in human vests.
  • For long hikes, travel and special occasions, you’ll find food and water carriers handy. Some carriers are shaped like saddlebags so Rover can tote his own chow, leaving you free to pack and carry your own gear.

Dressing Up for Fun

We won’t insult your intelligence and tell you and your dog that dressing up increases your popularity and builds your self esteem. You already know that people love to stop and admire your dog. Walking with your dog, nattily attired in an eye-catching ensemble of some sort really gets attention.

You don’t have to go crazy here. A colorful bandana is a great start. A step up to a nice Hawaiian shirt is very cool—and actually could provide some sun protection for certain breeds of dog. A matching shirt or accessory for the owner doubles the impact.

Team Spirit for Dogs

Hey, he’s your dog. Why shouldn’t he reflect your personal opinion and values?

Sports teams are the obvious, but what about corporate/company promotion, military service branch identification, musical group adoration, political party or church affiliation and the favorite fundraiser event?

Imagine showing up at your company picnic with dog in tow, sporting the company logo in some visible location. A quick “sit/stay” in front of the CEO and we’re talking promotion time. (“Isn’t that Betty from the steno pool? I like her sense of style and flair. Have her come see me about that new marketing position!”—nothing wrong with a little dreaming.)

It’s also fun to bring your dog-owning friends a little gift for their dog that reflects your personal bias. (A Go Army dog shirt for your Navy friend’s Boxer is always a hit.)

Clothing for Special Occasions

We celebrate certain occasions as “special.” We clean the house, bring out the good dishes, light candles, eat and drink to excess, dance and sing, put lights on dead trees in our living room . . . now that you mention it, a little “season appropriate” outfit for the dog doesn’t seem quite so wacky does it?

Somebody getting married? We don’t usually think of including the dog on the guest list, but how about a guest appearance by Bowser decked out in a tux or Belle in a frilly dress?

Halloween? Now here’s a guaranteed winner with trick-or-treaters of all ages. This is your chance to hit the neighbors up for extra candy if the dog is along for the begging!

A Word About Safety

Use some common sense when considering clothing for your dog. Avoid strings or ropes around necks and other body parts that could hurt your dog in some way. Watch that he doesn’t ingest buttons, rhinestones, or other parts of costumes and clothing. Fabric can ignite, as can dog hair, so use caution.

Make sure the clothing is free of trim or ties that can snag on bushes and trees in case he or she runs away. And of course, the dog should be free to relieve himself without any emergency measures!

Bottom line: supervise your dog at all times and be sensitive to her feelings and point of view. If she objects to something you’re doing, be a real person and either negotiate a compromise or abandon the idea.