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Ideally, we always have enough time to prepare our dogs for new, scary things.

But that’s not always possible.

For example, it’d be nice if everyone were able to buy their dog a comfy, well-fitted cone and train them to adjust to it long before they needed it.

That way, you can use short sessions and lots of rewards to get your dog to love their cone.

If you can do that, great.

But what if your dog needs surgery on short notice? What if you don’t have time to help her adjust to the cone until she needs it?

I found myself in this position when Cow developed a weird, itchy scab on her tail-stump. She kept biting at it, so it wouldn’t heal.

After a few days of trying to bandage it and put hemp infused coconut oil on it, I realized she wasn’t going to heal until I got her to stop biting her tail.

The only way to do that would be with a cone.

I considered soft, comfortable designs, but many reviews say that they’re not restrictive enough to keep your dog from biting at wounds or stitches on their paws and tail.

Those are better for keeping your dog from licking her spay stitches on her belly.

I had to go with the traditional plastic e-collar. The one I chose at least had some padded lining around the neck so it didn’t irritate Cow’s sensitive, thinly furred neck skin.

But it was still big, bulky, and annoying for her to wear. When I tried to put it on her, she would shake her head and paw at it.

How I Got Cow To Forget About Wearing Her Cone

Then, I remembered how I got Cow to wear booties. I put them on, and then I took her right outside for a run.

That way, she forgot she was wearing them. She was having so much running around and being outdoors, she got used to them.

When we got inside, she had already gotten used to them, so she continued to wear them while she rested on the couch.

I tried this with the cone, and it worked smashingly.

I put the cone on, and we went for a walk right away.

She had some trouble bumping into things, and it made it harder for her to sniff the ground, but she quickly learned to walk differently to accommodate it.

After a long, tiring walk, she plopped down on the couch, cone and all, and took a nap.

Can Your Dog Wear A Cone While Sleeping, Or Crated?

I didn’t try letting Cow wear the cone in her crate, and I was watching her the whole time she wore it.

So, I can’t speak to whether it would have worked for us.

Ideally, you’d be able to watch your dog for at least a few days while she recovered from surgery, or her wound healed. But if that’s not possible, you may have no other choice but to let her wear the cone unattended.

The cones are generally designed to be worn at all times, though you might need to take it off for mealtimes.

Personally, I would try leaving your dog alone at short intervals in another room and see how she does for five minutes. Then, you might go to the store for 25 minutes, and so on, until you can see that she consistently wears the cone without complications.

Sometimes, just having the cone on for a few hours can break the itch-scratch cycle, so you might even be able to get away with having it off. But the risk of your dog opening up her stitches could make this a bad idea.

Alternatives To The E-Collar

Even if you take your dog outside to help her adjust to the cone, it might be extremely stressful for her to wear.

You may be able to find another way to keep her from licking her stitches or wounds.

An anti-itch spray can do wonders. I’ve tried many things with Cow, both holistic and conventional.

While apple cider vinegar, sprayed onto the skin, helps cut back on itching caused by yeast, she liked the taste of it, so she would lick it off and continue to itch. Coconut oil, too, is very tasty.

Pet MD Antiseptic Spray was a lifesaver when she had a bad reaction to some fresh lamb – now I never give her anything lamb based. She didn’t lick this stuff, and it helped her skin heal pretty quickly. I’m also really glad that I could use it in the future for cuts and scrapes.

Last month, I realized that I had left the Pet MD spray at my parents’ house, and Cow was dealing with that itchy tail stump.

I didn’t want her to suffer for a few days while waiting for an Amazon shipment, so I went to the pet store and grabbed Burt’s Bees Itch And Hot Spot Relieving Spray.

This stuff is great, too. Cow doesn’t lick it off.

It’s not meant for first-aid use, more like when Cow has a yeast flare-up. It’s more gentle than the Pet MD spray, better for everyday use. I’m glad to have both of these products in my anti-itch arsenal.

I’ve had mixed results with putting a shirt on Cow to keep her from licking her belly.

You can sometimes use dog pajamas to cover stitches, wounds or itchy skin, but you’d have to get the perfect fit, and it wouldn’t cover all areas of the skin. I’ve never been able to find pjs that fit Cow’s odd, sweet potato shape, or Matilda’s tiny stature.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.