Last Thursday’s Dogs in International Costumes post spurred my pal Hilary Lane of Fang Shui Canines to remind me that people need to use caution when dressing their dogs. She’s absolutely right. I promised, and will herewith deliver, some advice on the proper methods of canine attiring for Halloween.
1. Avoid decorations that your dog can eat
Nix the buttons, beads, sequins, loosely sewn ribbons…anything your dog can easily consume.
2. Make sure the costume is comfortable
- That it’s not too tight; make sure it doesn’t pull or tug anywhere.
- That the fabric is soft and not irritating. No scratchy tutus, in other words.
- That it doesn’t impede your dog’s vision or ability to walk.
- That it’s made of a light, breathable fabric so your dog doesn’t overheat.
3. Get your dog used to putting on clothing by going slow and being liberal with your treats
Approach dressing your dog as you would any other training experience. Break it down into smaller stages — one paw in a sleeve, treat, treat — and be calm so as not to stress out your dog. Use the pantyhose technique — if you are male, have a female explain it to you — if you need to put an item over your dog’s head: Scrunch up the fabric so there is only a large opening and pull the item over his head, treat, then find the individual leg holes and put the paws in, treat treat. Do something fun with your dog afterward, though you should probably avoid walks where it will be possible for your dog to try to “re-scent” the costume, contributing his own dead rodent aroma addition to the Halloween experience. It is authentic to the holiday but you and your dog will never be invited back to any parties.
4. Never leave your dog unattended with a costume on
Even if a costume seems comfortable, many dogs aren’t accustomed to clothing and may get caught on something or end up in an otherwise dangerous situation in an attempt to undress themselves.
5. Shoot pictures of your dog quickly
Let’s face it. Most people dress their dogs up for Halloween for the photo op. Once the picture is snapped and posted on Facebook, those dogs are out of those outfits.
I know that you were thinking that the picture of Frankie that is posted here breaks every rule of dog costuming. That’s because Amy Haskell, the talented photographer who shot it, snapped about 90 images in 60 seconds and then relieved Frankie of modeling duty, removing beads and baubles. Incidentally, this is Frankie’s most famous picture (though he has not let it get to his head). Amy sold the image to Borealis Press who used it for a greeting card (#489 HB), refrigerator magnet, and cocktail napkins.
6. Don’t drink and dress your dog
It can lead to some serious fashion faux paws.
7. Don’t push your luck
If your dog firmly resists being costumed, do not persist in your attempts. Getting your dog upset can make for a really scary Halloween — and not in a good way.
Note: I am devoting my usual pet travel Thursday space to a different topic as a public service announcement in time for Halloween. But I’ll be back with pet travel next week, and two weeks from today, on November 10, the first meeting of the pet book travel club will convene. So get your copy of Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck and start reading if you haven’t already!