How to Train Your Dog to Wear Gear Using Positive Reinforcement

Let’s be honest. There are few things more adorable than our dogs sporting an outfit and strutting the streets in their cool gear. Whether it’s for safety and wellness purposes or their own pure enjoyment, we can’t deny that we love it as much as they do.

However, it’s also an all too common tale for us at PupLid to hear a pet parent say, “My dog won’t wear a hat” or “My dog won’t wear clothes.”

If you’re one of these pet parents and struggle to get your dog feeling comfortable in just about anything, fret not! Not only is it possible to train your dogs to wear gear, but you can teach them to actually like wearing clothes, too. 

How do we know? We’ve made it part of what we do! 

Here’s how you can train your apprehensive dogs to wear almost any kind of gear using an effective training technique called positive reinforcement. 

What is Positive Reinforcement? 

Positive reinforcement is operant conditioning that has been used with both animals and people since the 1940s.

It involves the introduction of a positive stimulus following the desired behavior. For dogs, this could be giving praise, a tasty treat, or even a walk in the neighborhood as a reward after they obey a command or perform a positive action. 

Through these positive anchors and ongoing affirmations, your pet is more likely to repeat the rewarded behavior in the future. 

Types of Positive Reinforcement for Dogs

Several types of reinforcers are used in positive reinforcement training, but these are the most commonly used by pet parents and dog training experts: 

  • Social Reinforcers: Your dog loves verbal reassurance from you! Say something like “good boy/girl!” or “great job!” in an upbeat and happy tone when they do something you’d like for them to repeat. 
  • Tangible Reinforcers: This is the presentation of physical rewards. Most dogs are very food motivated, so using delicious and nutritious training treats to reinforce good behavior is very effective. You can also use your pup’s favorite toy! 

How to Use Positive Reinforcement Training 

Positive reinforcement training can be one of the best ways to shape your dog’s behavior, but only if it’s done correctly. Here are some key elements to keep in mind as you begin this tried and true form of training with your pup. 


Timing has a huge impact on how successful your positive reinforcement training will be. Rewards, whether verbal or physical, must be given to your dogs immediately after they perform the desired action.

If you wait too long, your pup may not associate the reward with the action they just completed. 

Short and Simple

If you use long sentences to ask your dog to do something, they will not understand you. Otherwise, we'd always be having entire discussions with our dogs all the time!

It’s best to keep your commands to no more than one or two words. Here are some of the most common that your dog may already know:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Lay Down
  • Leave It

Dogs are also masters of body language. You can teach your pup to do just about anything using physical cues instead of verbal commands. 

For example, you could hold a treat or toy above your dog’s head and slowly move it behind them until they sit to look up at it. Don’t forget to reward them immediately for sitting! 

Keep It Consistent

You don’t want your pup to get confused during their positive reinforcement training. To keep things fresh in their mind, make sure you always reward them for performing the desired action until they have it down pat. 

Also, everyone in your home should be using the same cues. If you’re doing one thing and someone else is expecting another thing, your poor pup will feel lost. 

Types of Gear To Use Positive Reinforcement Training With 

It’s completely normal for a dog to need a little time to get used to wearing apparel. In our experience, we’ve found that positive reinforcement training is one of the best ways to train your dogs to wear gear. 

Here are some items you may want to consider training your dog to wear over time before they’re ready to hit the streets and show off for their buddies: 

  • Collars
  • Harnesses
  • Leashes
  • Dog Booties
  • Backpacks
  • Life Vests
  • Rain Gear
  • Dresses
  • Bandanas
  • Shirts
  • Dog Pajamas
  • PupLids! 

How to Train Your Dogs to Wear Gear Like PupLids

Our custom-designed dog trucker hats and baseball caps were created with the Furfect Fit® system to ensure maximum comfort and stability, but just like any other gear, it may take time for your dog to get used to it. 

We believe that positive reinforcement training is the perfect way to get your fur baby adjusted to their new PupLid. We have received plenty of feedback from customers who were surprised how quickly their dog accepted their hat, even the ones that usually ran away at the sight of any gear. 

To get started, we recommend using your pup’s favorite treats or a fun toy. Let him/her get a good sniff of their PupLid and reward with the treat or toy until they accept it. 

Gently place the PupLid on your dog’s head, give them a treat, then remove the PupLid and give your dog another treat. Repeat this until your dog is comfortable having the PupLid on their head.

Next, place the PupLid on your dog’s head and gently pull their little ears through the elastic loopholes on each side. Give them a treat.  Fasten the velcro chin strap so that two fingers fit between the chin strap and your dog’s neck. Give your dog another treat. Repeat this until your pup accepts wearing their PupLid. That’s it! 

It’s best to keep the first few sessions short to not overwhelm your dog or turn them off from the idea of wearing the PupLid. 

Once they’re more comfortable, pair hat-wearing with a fun walk or a trip to the park! This could help them associate their PupLid with fun adventures and make them excited to wear it. Not to mention their sweet little eyes will thank you for the extra sun protection

Nobody knows your dog like you do, so if you feel your pup needs a little extra help getting used to their PupLid, we’ve partnered with certified dog trainer, Nicole Ellis, to give a step-by-step tutorial. 

Watch now to learn exactly how to train your dog to wear their PupLid using positive reinforcement training. 

We understand that there is a small percentage of dogs that will simply refuse to wear gear of any kind. If this is the case for your dog, no worries! We offer a 30-day full refund on returns. 

Celebrate Your Pup’s Personality With PupLids

From nature lovers, to urbanites, to beach bums, all dogs deserve sun protection with style! 

PupLid dog hats are designed with comfort and adjustability in mind to provide the ultimate comfort, functionality, and sun protection for dog eyes. Plus, with several vibrant graphics and colors to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the one that reflects your furry best friend’s personality. 

What pet parent doesn’t like to match with their fur kids? Don’t forget to grab one of our PupLids for People so you and your dog can be twins! 

Kathy Burnell, DVM

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