Train Sheep to Wear Clothes

How do you train sheep to wear clothes? Not every sheep is born with the instinct to wear clothes. Just as human toddlers run away from diaper-wielding parents, lambs may race away from their humans and try to escape the confines of their diapers and clothes. Other toddlers and lambs stand complacently and happily as you dress them up in frills and hats.

As cute as this sheep may be, this is a rather filthy specimen. Image: LoggaWiggler/Pixabay

Some fabrics are more suitable for your sheep than others are, and I daresay that many sheep have personal preferences that you must take into consideration. To teach your sheep to be dressed decently, it helps to discover what your sheep enjoy wearing. What sort of fabric hangs more comfortably on their wool? What fabric leaves the sheep at just the right temperature? What fabric is not going to get too dirty and heavy?

What sort of fabric is not too warm? People with long hair often find that wearing hats too thick make their head too hot. Sheep are no different. Their entire bodies are covered with wool. Why not let them run around naked, one might ask. Well, humans are covered in hair, and they do not run around naked. It is a double standard that, like many others, we can only eliminate through understanding, compassion, and a sense of fairness.

I found that my house sheep was much more amenable to wearing clothes when I was also putting on clothes. She was also only exposed to other people who wore clothes. My house sheep did not have the companionship of common, nudist sheep who would have been a bad influence. I think, in my case, that my sheep found a certain pattern and decided that the wearing of clothing is a natural thing Which Must Be Done. And so, one way to train sheep to wear clothes is likely to normalize the concept for them.

I have no experience clothing outdoor sheep at this point, but I imagine that one could train sheep who live outside to wear clothes through positive reinforcement, such as always giving them food and petting them after they have not tried to roll around and strip.

And, of course, if you intend to sell your sheep’s wool, you must train sheep to wear fabrics that will not mat their wool— even if the sheep does not like the material at first. There are a great many things in life that one originally dislikes and then becomes used to. Recall the fable of the tanner and the wealthy man:

A rich man took up residence next door to a tanner and found the smell of the tanner’s yard so extremely unpleasant that he told the tanner that he must go. The tanner delayed his departure, and the rich man had to remind the tanner of it several times. This went on for some time until, at least, the rich man became so used to the smell that he ceased to mind it and troubled the tanner no more.

—Aesop

Habit, as this fable aptly illustrates, solves the problem.

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