How To Keep a Hat on a Dog

Do you want to give your furry friend a new style that turns heads?

Consider a dog hat or beanie!

Of course, functionality should always come before fashion. Some caps and dog clothes have a clear health benefit when worn by your precious pup. Hats can protect your dog from bright light or from the winter chill.

But what happens if your dog has weird hat-hate behavior? Have they become a fashion critic? 

We can assure you that’s not the case. The good news is there are ways to train your dog to wear one.

Simply follow the 7 easy steps we shared below and your four-legged best friend will be wearing a hat in no time! 

Before that, let’s find out why most dogs don’t like hats. After all, understanding your dog’s fears will help you better care for them. Ready? Let’s begin.

Why Are Dogs Afraid of Hats?

Pit bull wearing a hoodie

You're not alone if your dog doesn’t like wearing a hat, many dog owners have the same problem. 

The most common reason dogs fear hats is due to a lack of thorough socialization, especially when they were a puppy. 

All puppies are given that small window of opportunity – generally between four weeks to four months of age – for socialization training. It’s a period when puppies need to be exposed to as many people, sights, objects, and animals as possible.

Exposing your dog to people wearing hats and costumes will help eliminate distrust of these dapper accessories.

Applied animal behaviorist and dog trainer Patricia McConnell shared in her book The Other End of the Leash that canines don’t know the concept of “removable parts.” To them, people wearing a new hat are like extraterrestrials.

Bioethicist Jessica Pierce also wrote in her book Unleashing Your Dog that a hat distorts a person's appearance. So, dogs can become fearful of the unknown. This is the same reason some dogs fear wheelchairs, sunglasses, canes, backpacks, bikes, and skateboards if they’re not used to seeing them.

Banishing Hat Hate: Ways to Get Your Dog Not to Fear Hats

  • Have friends wear hats and walk by as you give your dog treats. Make sure you treat your dog before he can react so it can positively associate it with the foreign object.
  • Use counterconditioning and desensitization. These ways prevent dogs from barking frenzy every time they see anything odd.
  • Happy praise is delivered by people wearing hats.

Note: Behavior modification in canines comes with risks. If your dog fears people wearing hats, ask for help from a behavior professional for correct implementation and safety.

You may want your dog to wear a hat beyond fashion for several reasons. Check out some reasons below why your dog should wear a hat.

Reasons to Put a Hat On Your Dog

A french bulldog with a woolly beanie

  • For comfort
  • Helps them see better in bright environments
  • For sun protection, especially for breeds with thin coats
  • Fashion: dogs look adorable in hats!

Keep your dog warm and cozy in cold weather with this buttery soft knit pom pom dog beanie hat. It’s guaranteed to turn heads!

7 Steps on How To Keep a Hat on a Dog

Whether you want your dog to wear a hat for their protection or just for fun, here are steps on how you can keep that hat on them.

Step 1. Teach your dog a “start button behavior”

Start button behavior allows the pet to consent to something the owner or trainer wants to do with them. And can be used on your dog to desensitize them to wearing a hat.

For instance, sit in front of your dog and reward them before putting on the hat. Or you can give them a treat and say a specific phrase or word when they look at you before you proceed with step 2.

The purpose of this training is to give your dog a choice to do it, which eventually leads to you giving them self-reliance and self-confidence.

Step 2. Introduce the hat gradually

The second step is to hold the hat in front of your dog and reward them. The goal is for your pet to associate the hat with treats, and they’ll develop a positive feeling towards it.

If eye contact is your start button behavior, your dog will look at you. When you flash the hat in front of them and give them a treat, this is already basic desensitization of the object. 

But remember, don’t put the hat too close to your canine yet.

Step 3. Be intentional about your “start button”

Since you have established with your dog that eye contact is the start button, that’s the behavior they will offer. So, be intentional about it – only move the hat if your dog is looking at you.

If your dog stops making eye contact, stop moving the hat toward them. Make sure to do this step gradually. Don’t push your dog too much. Always ask for their consent by them continuing the eye contact or you can use other consent behavior. 

Reward your dog if they sniff it. Then, take it away. Do the same thing the following day. 

Should your dog know the basic commands?

For this part of the training, it’s better if your dog already knows the basic commands. These may include sit, stay, and down. Training will be much quicker if your dog already knows these commands.

Don’t worry; you can always revisit the sit-and-stay training if they have not yet mastered it.

Step 4. Position the hat properly (don’t cover their eyes!)

If your dog continues to give consent (eye contact or the start button behavior of your choice), it’s time to position the hat.

Position the hat properly on their head. Make sure it doesn’t cover their eyes. Dogs want to see the treat you’re offering and know their surrounding.

If your dog looks away, simply pull the hat back. Don’t force it on them, and still give them a treat. You are teaching them boundaries and self-control by allowing them to “say” no. It will not cause bad feelings and will encourage more “yes” in the future.

Step 5. Use praise

A dog receiving a treat


Dogs learn new behaviors best when they’re rewarded every time they happen. And rewards come in two forms: (1) treats, food, or toys and (2) praise, going outdoors, a walk, play, or attention. 

Praise delivered positively can elicit strong responses in the dog brain’s primary reward regions. So, be mindful of what you say and how you say it during dog training.

Use praise to reward your dog if he wears the hat, and soon, your dog will learn that wearing a hat equals great things.

Step 6. Give intermittent treats

Give intermittent treats whenever your dog is not trying to get the hat off or not shaking their head whenever you position the hat in their head. Remove the hat before you run out of treats or your pet decides they’ve had enough.

Help soothe and reduce your dog’s anxiety caused by stressful events. Check out this anxiety-calming dog earmuff protector suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Step 7. Gradually increase the amount of time your dog wears the hat

Lastly, gradually increase the time your dog wears the hat. He may shake the hat off his head, especially if you’re outside, but you can simply re-adjust it. Show them you still have treats and start walking again.

They will become less opposed to the idea of wearing a hat once they get more attention.

Why The Shape Of Your Dog's Head and the Hat Matter

A small dog wearing a hoodie

The shape of your dog’s head will determine the kind of hat that will work. For instance, if your dog has a big round head, most hats won’t fit them. The hat will just fall off every time your dog moves.

The kind of hat you choose is also important to keep it long enough on your dog’s head. Measure the circumference of your dog’s head to determine the proper hat size to buy. 

You can do this by wrapping a tape measure around the top of your dog’s head, in front of the dog's ears, and under the chin. Check each brand’s sizing to get the right size for your pup. 

How to Make a Party Hat for a Dog

a dog wearing a party hat


If you love DIY projects, here’s an idea to create a party hat.

- Decide how tall you want a dog party hat to be and then draw a circle in a pasteboard. Make it twice the height you want the party hat to be. For instance, if you want a 10cm tall hat, make a 20cm wide circle.

- Next, cut a wedge from that circle that’s more than a quarter of the size. You can do this by finding the middle of the circle, either by folding the circle in half or measuring it.

- Curve the cut-out paper into a cone, then coat the back part with a spray adhesive. Cut a fabric of the same size. Make sure to match that fabric’s design to the occasion. Spray the fabric also with an adhesive. Attach it to the pasteboard and trim the excess fabric away.

- Roll the cut-out circle pasteboard into a cone. Secure the bottom of the cone as you try it on your pet’s head. Hot glue the cone edges together.

- Add an elastic or ribbon to the party hat's bottom to serve as the chin strap. Pet owners should be aware of the right materials to choose from. An elastic material is best for fidgety dogs, while calmer dogs can handle a ribbon.

Best Dog Hats

Don’t have enough time in your busy schedule and would prefer to buy a hat than make one? Check out these darling dog hats to help accessorize your bestie in different seasons!

Winter Dog Hat

When temperatures drop, most dogs need to wear clothes and a beanie to keep them warm outside. A good winter dog should be made with a soft material to protect your dog’s head, ears, and neck from the cold and wind without causing skin irritation or rashes.

Footwear is another important consideration for protecting your pup’s tender feet. These dog shoes can keep their feet warm and nice during the winter.

dop shoes

Classic Propeller Hat

A classic propeller hat may not be a novelty hat as in this list, but it’s cute. Plus, the brim provides the necessary protection for your dog. It’s even perfect for a Halloween or Christmas costume for your pet.

Cowboy Hat

Cowboys are not just for cowboys anymore. They’re for dogs too! Some dog cowboy hats available in the market can assist in keeping your dog cool as they’re made with film felt.

Just remember that just like any dog clothing, you should measure your dog’s head to ensure the cowboy hat you’re buying is a good fit. Measure your dog’s head between the ears, then compare the measurement of the product’s dimension as advertised.

Santa Hat

A Santa hat for dogs is great for creating Christmas memories and festivities. They can wear it during a winter walk, for picture taking, or to attend various parties

Dog Baseball Caps

Although you can rely on dog sunscreens, it’s also nice to protect your dog with a fashionable and functional baseball cap. 

The good thing about this type of hat is there are those with cooling layers. Some even have an adjustable drawstring tied under your dog's chin for a perfect fit.

Wrap Up

a french bulldog wearing a Sparkpaw's beanie

Adjusting your dog to wear a hat doesn’t have to be tricky. 

You can take them outside and around people wearing hats. You can also train him to wear a hat in your home. Why not wear a hat yourself, soon he’ll realize a hat is just a harmless accessory, and they will be comfortable with it. 

Looking for the best dog hats for form and function? Check out our dog hats and accessories collection. Be prepared for a cuteness overload!