People Pets is People magazine’s pet edition. Yes, journalism is alive, people!
In their current email edition* they are showing photos of dogs dressed in Hanukkah garb. Above, we have Legend, wearing a menorah, and Liza wearing a yarmulke. By the look on their faces, I’d say that dogs don’t much like Hanukkah. Or maybe they just don’t always like to be dressed up in random clothing for reasons they can’t begin to understand. (You see, Legend, what you’re weraing is a stuffed menorah–basically an ersatz version of a centuries-old metal object that’s the subject to various allegorical interpretations. But mostly, it looks so cute!).
Hell, I don’t even understand. How are you to explain to Liza that yarmulkes are really only worn by men?
These situations don’t usually involve much that is reinforcing in the life of a dog. You can say “But they’re getting attention!” Sure, but if you’re the kind of person that is doing this, I bet your dog gets a lot of attention already. And I’d say that the joy of the attention probably does not outweigh the stress experienced by a dog having to wear clothes for what might be the first time. Dogs truly are creatures of habit and often need a lot of exposure in order to feel okay about something foreign. Like menorahs strapped to their heads.So, if you’re going to dress up your dog for the holidays, reinforce the situation with lots of treats. Strap on the menorah, give a treat. Take it off quickly. You don’t want your dog thinking, “I guess this is something I will have to wear forever.” You want him to know that it always comes off eventually–and probably sooner rather than later.
In the next trial, put it back on for a little longer, give more treats. Do this over and over for a couple of minutes a few days a week. No gelt for him, though. Chocolate will make him plotz.
*Yes, I subscribe–but I also get The New Yorker, so shush.
Related Post: The psychological torment of a dog on Halloween