Quick note from Lauren Darr, Founder IAPFP:
This week we have a very special guest writer for the International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals blog. Colleen Demling, Founder of Pawtopia who has some fantastic insights as a trainer when it comes to pet fashion design. Without further adieu, please read on for “Dress ‘Em Right Pet Fashion Insider Tips From A Dog Trainer.”
Dog trainers and animal behaviorists often get asked about clothing for dogs. Most of us love and encourage our clients to dress up Fido in the latest fashion trends but there are a few things that, from a dog trainer’s perspective, designers should consider:
It’s All About the Fit
When designing clothes it is important to have a variety of sizes that fit all dogs. Adjustable for both length and girth are critical because many clients, who want clothes for their dogs, aren’t able to do so because they can’t find ones that fit properly. They get frustrated and then turn away from the idea of ever buying fashion for their pooch. Clothes that are too tight can prevent proper cooling or movement and ones that are too loose are dangerous because a dog could wiggle free or get a paw stuck when walking. I’ve seen many clients find and then stay with a brand just because that designer had a size for their off-sized pooch.
As a dog trainer, I always caution clients on dangers to their dog in the environment. Clothes that have items that could be chewed and ingested such as buttons, fringe, Velcro and glitter are fun and fabulous but the danger to the dog often outweighs the fashion. Consider only dog friendly material as you design. The dogs will thank you.
Often times clients want to start dressing their dog but they are left with few choices between a collar and a full outfit. Most dogs will initially protest clothes so they need time to adjust to wearing them. During this phase it is important that the clothing is simple and comfortable so the dog has positive experiences with their new duds. Developing a clothing line that has both minimalist as well as extravagant options will help hook clients to a brand from the start.
The devil is in the details. When clients are deciding on what type of clothing to buy, most pet professionals will counsel them to look for safety features such as a reflective strap that can be seen at night, a “cut out” in a sweater that the ring of a collar or harness can go through, and material that can be easily laundered in case it gets soiled. Clients will appreciate the effort a designer put into, not only making a piece fabulous, but also functional.
Thank you to Muttropolis for use of the photos for this article.
About Colleen Demling
With over 9000 hours and 12 years of HANDS ON dog training experience, Pawtopia’s founder, Colleen Demling, has vast experience in a variety of methodologies. She is a CPDT-KA as well as an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She trained Service Dogs for Canine Companions for several years before starting Pawtopia. She has been featured in the local media and published in numerous national magazines including EPregnancy and Prevention. She designed the Temperament Test for the Therapy Dog Program at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and also writes monthly articles for many local rescues and other dog related websites. She has professional associations with the International Association of Canine Professionals and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.