Hey Mighty Paw fam, Barbara here to talk about dog Halloween costumes and whether or not we should dress our pups up for the spooky occasion!
After all, our dogs are part of our families and as such, it only comes naturally to want to include them in our festivities. And Halloween is SUCH a fun holiday, right?!
I mean besides original costumes and trick or treating, people get REALLY creative with their front yard decorations and lights in their windows!
So much so that during the entire month of October, dog walks turn into a little decoration adventure hunt!
However, the question remains of whether or not we should dress our dogs up on October 31st!
In our opinion, it depends on the respective dog.
Of course some dogs don't mind wearing clothes and accessories at all.
But some will only tolerate a few items and others hate the feeling of anything other than their collar on them.
So with that in mind, we should always ensure that dogs who wear any type of outfit are comfortable and that they're having as much fun as we are.
That's why in this blog post, I'll cover:
- When to dress your pup up
- Signs that your dog is uncomfortable in their outfit
- Dog Halloween costume ideas
- Alternatives for dogs who don't love to dress up
- Halloween safety tips for dogs
- What can I do with my shy dog on Halloween?
Dog Halloween Costumes: Should I Dress My Dog Up For Halloween?
When to Dress Your Pups Up for Halloween
It really depends on the dog!
I already briefly mentioned that some dogs don't mind wearing costumes at all. As you might be able to tell, that's the case with the pup in our title picture!
Dogs who are used to wearing clothes & harnesses
Dogs who are used to wearing clothes like sweaters and rain jackets typically fall into that category.
Dogs who are used to wearing harnesses on a regular basis will also mind less than those dogs who never experience the feeling of anything other than their collars on them.
It also depends on the individual levels of socialization
Dogs who are well socialized to all sorts of paraphernalia will have an easier time seeing, smelling, feeling and accepting unusual clothing or things on their body.
By the way, the best time to start socializing dogs to the world around them is when they are still puppies.
Check out our Ultimate Puppy Guide blog post for more in-depth information on the topic of socialization for puppies.
But socialization doesn't stop at puppy age! It's equally important to continue exposing dogs to the world around them once they've grown into their adult bodies.
Plan your dog's Halloween costume ahead of time
If you can, plan your pup's Halloween costume ahead of time. That way you'll be able to introduce them to it before October 31st.
Unless your pup's a pro at changing outfits, let them see and sniff it first before you put it on them. Your dog's natural curiosity should definitely help you out here!
Once they're done checking it out, reward their curiosity with something positive like their favorite treat, snack or toy along with verbal praise. For example, good girl/boy!
Next, gently rub the costume against their body and see how they react.
If they don't seem to mind, you can try putting it on them now. Don't forget to reward their willingness to play along!
Signs That Your Dogs Are Uncomfortable in Their Halloween Costumes
However, if they display any of the signs below, you should probably skip the costume:
- Excessive panting and drooling
- Reluctance to walk
- Stiff body
You know your dog best, so if they're acting vastly differently from their normal behavior while they're wearing the costume, it's better to take it back off.
It's also going to depend a little on how long you expect your dog to wear their outfit.
If you only want them to pose for cute Halloween photos, your pup's only going to have to be OK with the costume for a little while.
If, however, you plan on taking them out for a trick-or-treating walk with your kiddos, you'll really want to make sure that they're comfortable in whatever they're wearing.
That's why I suggest that you take your pup on a few practice walks wearing their costumes. Don't forget to bring some tasty treats to reward your pup with during the walk!
Also, make sure that your dog can comfortably walk in their outfit and that it's not too tight or restricts their movements.
You could also dress to impress your pup for Halloween photos and then only have them wear a cute Halloween doggie accessory for the trick-or-treat walk.
I mention a few different options towards the end of this blog post, so keep on reading!
If you're taking your dog along for trick-or-treating, you may want to keep them on a shorter leash. It'll be easier to keep them close by and from investigating your kids' candy baskets. Speaking of those, remember to remind your kids not to share their goodies with your pup!
Ideas for Dog Halloween Costumes
Now as far as actual Dog Halloween Costumes go, the only limits are those of your creativity!
You can dress your pup up with any of the following ideas - either by themselves or combined:
- Hats: witch, pirate, cowboy, baseball
- Balloons tied to a harness
- (Clip on) bow ties
- Lion manes
- Bunny ears
Alternatives for Dogs Who Don't Love to Dress Up
The good news is that Halloween doesn't have to be scary or uncomfortable for your pup!
You can still add a spooky-cute Halloween touch to your pup's appearance on the 31st without having to make them feel uncomfortable.
We have a few very low impact accessories you could "dress" your pup up with!
Other low impact accessory ideas are bandanas. You can either buy them or make your own.
Just head into any store that sells fun fabrics and buy a yard of it, then cut out a triangle shaped bandana and either tie it around your dog's neck or attach it to their collar.
Vets and groomers also like to send their patients/customers home with a bandana tied around their neck, so you could also repurpose any of those if your pup recently came home with one.
The ones featured below are my pup Wally's!
Halloween Safety Tips for Dogs
If you’re hosting a Halloween dinner or party and your pup’s easily spooked by costumes, give them their own separate space and keep them away from candy and chocolate.
Assuming your dog is crate trained, they can hang out in there. A calm alternative could be your bedroom, a walk in closet or your laundry room. Set them up with their usual bed or blanket, some water and don’t forget to check in on them a few times.
Make sure to take your active pups on extra long morning and afternoon walks or runs the day of October 31st. That way, they’ll be much calmer for any of the evening festivities.
As an extra safety precaution, switch out real candles for electric ones in your carved pumpkins.
What Can I Do With My Shy Dog on Halloween?
If you know that your pup is just not digging the whole Halloween commotion, accept it and just skip any of the festivities.
If you’re not going to be handing out candy, don’t forget to turn your door bell off as well as your lights. That’s a pretty good indicator for trick or treaters to skip your home. It’ll also keep your pup from going crazy at the door each time the door bell rings.
Additionally, you can put a sign on your mailbox, your door bell or right on the front door that informs people you won’t be handing out any candy and to please not ring the bell. The door bell note and front door sign approach may work particularly well if you live in an apartment complex.
Scary Movie Time
Instead, curl up together on the couch and watch a Scary Movie (or two). Your pup won’t mind and you’ll have a furry protector next to you, ha!
Treat Your Dog
Just because you can’t share any of your Halloween candy with your pup doesn’t mean that you can’t treat them in a fun way!
Here’s one of our not-so-well-kept secrets that’s guaranteed to get your pup drooling AND keep them entertained all at once:
Invest in our interactive Dog Lick Pad (great for small to medium dogs) or wobbly Dog Lick Bowl (great for all size dogs). Next, smear some soft foods onto the different quadrants and watch your pup go to town!
- Peanut butter
- Baby food
- Wet or raw dog food
- Pumpkin purée (homemade or the kind from the store, just make sure it’s plain pumpkin purée and not pie filling)
- Canned salmon or tuna (ideally in water but olive oil is OK too)
Dog Halloween Costumes: Should I Dress My Dog Up For Halloween - Bottom Line
So, how do you celebrate Halloween with a dog?
It depends on your pup! If they’re well socialized, love being around kids and don’t mind the sound of door bells, take them along for trick or treating.
This can involve their very own dog Halloween costume or simply consist of a fun little add on. For example, one of our LED dog accessories.
You may want to keep them on a shorter leash such as our short leash tab or walk them on our dual handle dog leash. Both make it easy for you to quickly regain control of your pup which may come in handy when there’s kids and candy involved…no matter how many times you remind your kids not to share any!
Also be aware of the fact that your pup may sniff out discarded candy and/or wrappers on the ground, so be extra mindful of that and brush up on your pup’s “leave it” command.
If your pup is more on the shy side, that’s OK too. Not all dogs are social butterflies and may just be more comfortable at home. Set them up in their crate or a safe spot away from the front door if you plan on handing out candy. A good way of keeping them busy involve our Dog Lick Pad or Dog Lick Bowl!
Otherwise, turn off your door bell, dim the lights and snuggle up on the couch with your furry bestie for scary movie time!
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Barbara Rivers writes regularly for Mighty Paw. She is a blogger, raw feeder, former dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.
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