Dog Halloween costumes, parades and parties are among the most fun social activities you can do with your dog. Everyone puts a lot of heart and creativity into the costumes, and there’s a lot of laughter to go around. Here’s how to prep both you and your dog for a safe and fabulous time.
1. Remember safety first
Rule No. 1 for dog Halloween costumes: The costume must be safe and comfortable. Use only nontoxic materials, and choose or create a costume that won’t restrict your dog’s movements.
2. Get dog Halloween costumes in advance
Get your dog used to the costume well before the big day. Offer treats when he’s wearing it, and give him a lot of praise.
3. Make sure your pup can see
If your costume requires a mask or something else that will cover your dog’s face and obstruct his vision, only use it during the contest portion of the event, or choose a costume that allows for unobstructed vision.
4. Shoes are made for walking
If your dog isn’t used to shoes or booties on his feet, simulate them by covering your dog’s leg with material that looks like footwear, while keeping the paw pads unrestricted.
5. Consider a dog Halloween costume on wheels
If you have a small dog or multiple small dogs, think about creating a costume that incorporates a stroller or wagon. This prevents your dog from being stepped on and also allows you to create a more elaborate costume.
6. Be aware of other dogs
Your dog is going to be around a lot of other dogs in a Halloween parade or party. Before you decide to go, make sure your dog is comfortable around other dogs.
7. Leash your dog
Dogs communicate primarily through body language. When a group of dogs are in costume and unable to read each other’s signals because their bodies are covered, tensions can run high, and there’s a chance for a tussle or two. Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
8. Train your dog to know proper commands
When it’s your turn to show off your dog’s costume, make sure he knows the basic cues like Sit, Wait and Stay. A well-behaved dog will show better than one who is straining at the leash.
9. Your dog has to like the costume too
If your dog panics at any time or seems uncomfortable in any way, remove the costume immediately. It’s more important that your dog be safe than to win the contest.
Thumbnail: Photography ©adogslifephoto | Getty Images.
About the author: Nikki Moustaki is a dog trainer, dog rescuer, and pet expert. She splits her time between New York City and Miami Beach, Florida, and is the author of the memoir The Bird Market of Paris. Visit Nikki on Facebook, on Twitter, and at nikkimoustaki.com.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!