This week I thought I would go a different direction (sort of) in this blog. If you train your dog a lot or train lots of dogs, you might already know what to wear when you train. With dog show and trial season having started, I thought this would be a timely post to make to help anyone who is working on training her/his dog for competition to choose their clothes carefully.
Training can be easy or difficult depending on your mood and your dog’s. What you wear is part of the whole training package because if you aren’t comfortable and if you feel frumpy, too hot or too cold, you won’t be able to relax and enjoy what you are doing.
For me personally, I have certain types of clothes that I can never wear, no matter whether I am training or not. These are clothes that are white (gets dirty too fast), clothes that dog hair sticks to (for obvious reasons), and dark coloured shirts – because the dog hair generally sticks to them and I don’t like how dark colours look on me. These are the choices I make because I have so many dogs in the house and wearing these things just cause me stress. I also don’t have the occasions to wear more dressy clothes in daily life. Some of my regular clothes are not appropriate for dog training but it really is pointless to wear them because they get in the way or get dirty too fast with dogs around. So when “they” talk about dressing well for the “office”, I simply dress normal. No fancy office clothes here. I live at the office with my dogs.
For just training dogs, I have decided on certain clothing as well. T-shirts are always a good stand-by and as usual white shirts are a no go because they get dirty too fast and are quickly put in the rag pile because of stains. Inevitably, all T-shirts have to be spot cleaned almost daily which means I am changing shirts twice a day. In the spring, dogs will have dirty feet – more so than any other time of the year, and this dirt will end up on all the clothes I am wearing at some point no matter how hard I try to avoid it.
All training pants are water resistant. I get these from work clothes type stores but they have to be decent colours and cuts. I don’t wear skinny jeans or leggings to train because if a dog puts his claws into my leg there is a greater chance of getting scraped with fabric that fits tight against the leg. Jeans with loose legs work pretty good as well and water does not usually go through if you get it right away.
For feet, comfortable is best of course but that doesn’t mean shoes that can slip off the foot. If you are planning on eventually doing dog sport trialling, shoes are important and in fact it is required that you wear proper footwear in the ring. Obviously if you are doing an outdoor dog sport your shoes have to suit the weather and terrain. I have done Rally trialling on grass and the sneakers I was wearing had air holes on the tops. The grass had dew on it in the morning and later it rained, and both times the water soaked right through the holes and made the shoes useless.
If we go to trials in the winter at all, I always take “running shoes” and change into them at the venue. In the summer you can usually get away with a good solid pair of sandals with a good grip. Often, an indoor trial venue is sweltering so sandals can help you stay cool, but they have to be well attached to your foot so they don’t fly off.
When I was showing dogs in conformation, I never had proper shoes and I suffered. The ones I was wearing would always hurt my toes when I ran around the ring. Show shoes need to be dressy but soft and comfortable because you have to do some running or at least fast moving around the ring. It is almost impossible for me to find good shoes because of my foot size, but most people should be able to find something acceptable. Showing your dog in conformation requires more dressy clothes as well and I stick to basic colours – black grey maybe brown/beige and the occasional white as long as it is not too much. Some handlers prefer colourful clothes and that is totally their choice.
Dressing for work as a dog “owner” or dog training professional is fairly simple but unfortunately is not too interesting. I guess if a person doesn’t mind getting a few things wrecked, one could wear just about anything as long as it does not get in the way of movement. I remember one time as a teenager, I wore a baggy, fashionable (at the time) jacket/top to a golf lesson and I couldn’t swing the club properly because of it. I wanted to look cool.
Now I care more about being comfortable than being trendy, although having a “style” of one’s own is a good idea. This is why I try to stick with simple clothes for dog training. Dressing for fashion as a dog trainer is difficult. If I come up with anything interesting, I’ll let you know.