Why Dogs Freeze Up When You Put Clothes on Them

Sometimes, it’s a near-irresistible urge to dress your own furry darling up after seeing a picture of pawpular internet dogs being stylish. Not every dog acts the same, though, and watching your normally energetic dog freeze up can be a terrifying experience. So why do dogs freeze up when you put clothes on them?

Dogs may freeze up when dressed in clothing due to general confusion from the unusual feeling, discomfort from the clothes, or they may even be experiencing relaxation triggered by the clothing. The exact reason a dog freezes up depends on the dog, their situation, and the clothing put on them.

This is the quick answer that you may be looking for, but you could also be wondering how you might be able to tell the difference. If you’re unsure whether your pup is in distress or not, this extra information below may help.

The Reasons Your Dog Might Freeze Up in Clothes: Explained

If your pup seems to turn to stone when slipped into an adorable sweatsuit or cozy sweater, there are a few things that may be happening. 


Strategic uses of clothing for dogs have been used to keep your companion calm in an otherwise triggering situation. Pressure on the body has been proven in multiple scientific studies to cause relaxation in some of the test subjects, and it is generally found to be true about canines as well.

While every dog is different, it is said that a deep, large amount of pressure can increase levels of oxytocin and serotonin

The increase in these natural chemicals could be helping to keep the dog calm. This calming method is seen being used by companies such as ThunderShirt, which market products to calm animals during thunderstorms.

Unusual Feeling

If your dog has never had to wear clothing before, this will be a bizarre experience for them overall. While we as people are used to wearing clothing, dogs are only used to the fur that is on their bodies. 

When you first put the clothing on your dog, they may react strangely and freeze up. It could be them assessing the situation to see if it is safe.

With this being a new situation that is unfamiliar to them, it may make them panic. Be sure to use positive reinforcements, such as treats or praises, when your dog is in the clothing to let them know everything is alright!


As mentioned before, the main problem for your pup may be that they have never worn clothing before. If you have tried positive reinforcements and your canine companion still appears to be in distress, it’s time to accept defeat. You don’t want to force your fur baby into an uncomfortable situation, especially if you can get them out of it. 

Reasons clothes may be uncomfortable for your dog include the:

  • Size of the clothing
  • Feeling of the material
  • Cut of the clothing
  • Thickness of the fabric

For any of these reasons, dogs may refuse to have clothing put on them and can make their distaste known for the situation. Each dog has their own unique energy and creates their own personality along the way. It is up to you as the owner to make sure they are comfortable.

Is It Cruel to Dress Up a Dog?

While this question is a matter of opinion for some, it is primarily a matter of intention. Generally, it is not considered to be cruel to put clothing on your dogs. You can see many examples of dogs, particularly toy and small breeds, that have clothing on. 

  • Protective vests – Police dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs, and service dogs commonly wear vests for protection or identification. 
  • Doggy couture – From Instagram to TikTok, you see dogs in dresses, bandanas, and other stylish get-ups.   
  • Coordinating basics – Whether it be something simple such as a collar and leash combo or if your pup has some stylish boots, many human pals like to find a way to express a little fashion within the everyday necessities. 
  • Cold weather necessities – In places where the weather gets subzero, it can be important to dress up your dog to protect their paws and keep in their body heat. 

When dressing up a dog, the distinction between cruel and not cruel is the intention and reaction. Always treat a dog with respect when putting clothing on them and be mindful of their comfort level.

If you are solely putting your dog into something obviously uncomfortable or keeping an article of clothing on your dog for the sake of your own humor, this would be an example of cruel intentions and reactions

Your fur baby relies on you to protect them and make them comfortable, especially when dealing with external factors they are not familiar with. If you introduce the thing that is causing them distress and then mocking them, it will be hard to get your dog into other costumes in the future. 

Do Dogs Like Wearing Clothes?

There is no single answer as to if dogs enjoy wearing clothing, as its answer depends on a variety of components, including your dog’s personality and the details of the article of clothing. Dogs being comfortable in different apparel is trained into them at some point, with most dogs who enjoy having clothes on being clothed from the age of a puppy. For some dogs:

  • It just becomes routine. It can be speculated that the dogs that enjoy having clothes on became so accustomed to it that it may feel like it is just another routine in their life.
  • It’s a learned trick or skill. It should definitely be considered a taught skill if a dog keeps a hat on; it is highly unlikely that they were comfortable and calm from the first second.
  • It is a relaxation technique. However, some dogs find relaxation in clothing and can be seen with various shirts, vests, and other outfits on. Dogs that have anxiety find clothing very beneficial, the pressure helping them maintain a level of call.

Most notably, there are situations in which dogs wear clothing as part of their occupation or as an answer to a problem. Dogs can suffer from allergies, and if they go outside and are exposed to their allergens, they can break out just as a human would. Because of this, sometimes dogs wear shoes, jackets, or shirts to protect their body from irritants.

What Kind of Clothes Are Most Comfortable for Dogs?

I think you already know the “official” answer: Each scenario depends on your dog, their personality, and their physical attributes. 

Natural Fabrics

While the general consensus is clothing made from breathable materials is the most popular choice for dogs. These breathable materials allow them to stay cool even when they are wearing the extra layer. However, just because cotton is recommended for most dogs doesn’t mean cotton is the correct choice for every dog.

Weatherproof Materials

Dog breeds that lack the thicker layer of natural fur, such as the Chinese Crested Dog, also wear clothing to protect them from the elements. In these cases, cotton wouldn’t be a thick enough layer if the dog was going out into the cold. You’ll have to spend time testing different materials if your dog seems to need other options.

It Depends on the Dog and the Reason

While some dogs appear to enjoy wearing clothes out of routine or their human’s expression of style, another majority of dogs may need to wear clothing for protection from the elements. From hairless breeds needing a jacket to huskies wearing special boots as they pull sleds, the reason a dog is in clothing can vary.


If your dog freezes up when you dress them, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. But they may be feeling weird or uncomfortable; the only way to know is to be conscientious of their feelings and monitor their reactions to determine how they may be feeling.  Sometimes, they may ham up and enjoy the extra attention or comforting sensation of clothing, and other times, you may find yourself with a pup that likes being free and natural! 

If you are dressing your dog for warmth or protection, you may just need to let them wear the clothing around the house in small increments until they get used to the feeling. With all of the great options in terms of style, fabric, and cut – there is bound to be something that is comfy for your furry friend. 

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We are team Veste for Pets! Veste means dress or clothing in Portuguese and we loved it and thought it will give our site a fresh feel. Plus we are moving to Portugal soon! Pets provide us with companionship, love, and security. They are always there for us, no matter what. They make us laugh when we're feeling down and help us to feel loved and needed. They are a source of unconditional love, and we can't imagine life without them. We want to share our love for making and giving our pets the best.

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