Muttley Crew Know How
The Muttley Crew, as we have mentioned previously, is made up of a group of rescue dogs and their significant humans. With rescues we are never really certain what good or bad things they have experienced in life, and what will trigger fear associated behaviour or not. Taking the time for proper assessments and introductions to new things, can really pay off in the long run, with happier more confident and better socialized dogs.
Should dogs wear clothing?
If clothing is meant to enhance their quality of life, in cases such as providing warmth, skin protection and protection from the weather and your dog is comfortable with it, then ABSOLUTELY!
In the case of safety clothing like Travel Harnesses or Dog Safety Seats for cars and speciality items like Life Jackets, then it is a NO BRAINER! Our responsibility is to make sure that they are happy and comfortable, whilst being safe.
Is your dog comfortable?
Most of us assume that our dogs will be just fine with the new harness, jacket or specialized accessories that we have bought for them.
Once you approach with the new item, watch your dog’s body language, is their tail tucked? Are they quieter than normal? Do they look, subdued or tense? Does their eye have an anxious glint to it? Are they crawling around or reluctant to come to you?
These signs can vary from blatantly obvious, to so subtle that you need to be watching for it.
Subtle signs can include a slightly more rigid posture, tail held at half mast and less free in its movement, ears held slightly tight on the head, light panting which can be mistaken for excitement if you don’t watch their body language as a whole. Yawning which can be a sign of stress, particularly if their body’s are tight with tension.
Creating positive experiences around clothing
Always introduce your pupper to clothes or new items such as harnesses and collars by letting them smell them and inspect them, of course if nothing phases your dog then this is unnecessary. If you have a timid or anxious dog, then marking the action of inspecting the new item, albeit with a click, praise, a treat or a release of pressure by removing the new item; will build their confidence and tolerance for new experiences.
Teach your dog to stand or sit quietly next to the new item, using the same method of praise and release (consistency is key). This becomes an easy step to build on when they are ready, by putting the jacket or harness on them when they are quiet, and better able to process the new sensations.
Rubbing or stroking them gently with the article of clothing can also make a positive association, as does letting the new pieces pick up your scent. Putting it in your dog’s basket and letting them seep on it (in the case of soft jackets) is also a great way to familiarise them with the clothing item.
The next step would be, progressing to laying the jacket over their bodies for short periods and eventually putting it on them. If they still hold some anxiety about it then keeping the wear time short will help build their tolerance and trust for the sensory input.
In the Muttley Crew Take 1 video, we see Jasi’s first time wearing a Jacket and Boot’s first time wearing anything like a Back Pack. Barry of course is a “been there, done that stalwart”. Thankfully these three dogs are very confident when it comes to experiencing new things.
Make it FUN!!! let them learn to associate the new harness with walks, or playing in the park, road trips etc, whatever gives them the greatest joy.
When it’s not always right!
Just because your dog is cold and shivering, doesn’t mean forcing them to wear a jacket to keep warm is the right thing to do. We aren’t referring to horrifically low temps and deep snow, but more to situations where you could keep your precious pup warm by snuggling them into a warm basket (look at our Furton, i wouldn’t mind being able to curl up in one right now), or providing some snugglesome blankets that they can burrow under.
When it is LIFE SAVING!
When it is important, is when it relates to safety. Clothing such as the Advanced Dog Lifejacket may seem like a luxury, until the day that you need it. Imagine taking your dog out on a paddle ski or boat and they get washed overboard. Imagine that something happens to you and you are unable to help them, they could spend hours in the water and possibly even drown. Having them fitted in the necessary safety gear, with high visibility could well save their life. Making sure that they are confident wearing it, means that they enjoy their adventures with you even more.
Choosing the right materials
Safety equipment such as the the High Visibility Jogger, Life Jacket and Service Dog Harness are made from materials which are specifically fit for purpose, so choice of materials is limited to colour and in the case of the Service Harness, to the relevant badges applied.
With jackets for weather protection, materials are far more variable. If you have a dog who feels the cold but seems to not like their jacket (particularly longer haired dogs such as Yorkies, Maltese and Wire Haired Dachsies), try fitting a jacket with a satin lining. It limits “pull” on the hair, helps to lay and polish the coat, and often has less static than say fleece.
Ensure that whichever clothes you put on your dog, fits them properly. Too tight and you create pressure points and the potential for rubbing. Too loose and the jackets can slip, rub and may even endanger your dog’s life in an emergency situation, it may also result in your dog getting loose and potentially injured.
Some pups are noise sensitive and press studs or velcro may scare them. Some can not tolerate pullovers going over their ears and face and don’t like high necks.
Knowing who to trust!
Knowing your pup, is key to buying the right product! Knowing that your retailer knows what they are doing, is peace of mind! Buying quality and years of experience is priceless!