By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,
Prepping Your Pup for the Catwalk
Let’s face it, if dogs were out in the wild, one of the last things they’d want to do is put on an outfit, especially a Halloween costume. But with a little technique called classical conditioning, you can teach your canine companion to love almost any outfit. So grab that outfit and some tasty treats, and learn how we teach our dogs to love their costumes:
There are so many dog clothes out there, including specific costumes. Make sure you have one that is pet friendly and fits your dog well. You’ll also want to have a container of yummy treats with you. We’re not talking the dry little biscuits; this is the time to pull out the big guns: small pieces of chicken, steak or freeze-dried liver.
Note: Use foods that are healthy and are part of your dog’s regular diet. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian. Also, regard these treats as part of your dog’s regular meal, not an add-on.
Create the Connection:
Teach your dog that the costume is associated with getting chicken (or the like). You’ll want to break this down into small steps:
Start with the costume hidden behind your back so your dog can’t see it. Then, show your dog the new costume, followed by giving your dog a small treat. Repeat this until your dog’s body language shows that he or she is excited when the costume appears — tail wagging; an open, relaxed mouth; and tongue hanging out (with possible drooling) are a few of the popular body language indicators.
Fit the costume on your dog
The next step is to start to fit the costume on your dog. We suggest you continue the same process; meaning, first comes the costume being placed on your dog, followed by a little treat. If your dog seems to be enjoying it, then you can push a little faster by dressing your dog, all the while rewarding with small treats. Then remove the costume and put all the treats away. If your dog is a little more hesitant, slow it down by putting only one section of the costume on at a time.
Once your dog gets the idea, you’ll be able to do this with other costumes.
Halloween is the perfect time to teach your dogs to be the perfect door greeter AND a fashionista, and it’s also the ideal time to show off their skills. Practice for just a few minutes on the days leading up and you’ll get great results, plus all the ghosts and goblins will be impressed!
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