9 Things to Keep in Mind for Dog Halloween Costumes and Parades

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

Your dog’s safety is more important than winning the costume contest. Photography ©WilleeCole | Thinkstock.

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

Make sure your dog is comfortable wearing shoes or booties. Photography ©Donald Bowers/Alamy Live News | Alamy Stock Photo.

Make sure your dog is comfortable wearing shoes or booties. Photography ©Donald Bowers/Alamy Live News | Alamy Stock Photo.

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

Don't give your dog the independence of letting him wander. Photography ©BluIz60 | Getty Images.

Don’t give your dog the independence of letting him wander. Photography ©BluIz60 | Getty Images.

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 ParisVisit 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!

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