Whether or not you choose to dress your dog in costume to celebrate Halloween, you can’t help but wonder: how do dogs feel about getting dressed up? Read on to find out.
Depending on the dog, it’s usually rather obvious how they feel about costumes. A dog may go about his business as usual, for instance, as if he were not actually wearing an enormous hot dog bun across his body. On the other hand, a dog may make it clear that costumes are just for people, and freeze and then use her paws to remove whatever she was dressed in immediately.
Thankfully, Alexandra Horowitz, Ph.D, author of the wonderful book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and cognitive scientist (and dog owner, naturally), has provided an insightful article on the very topic, “On Dressing Up Your Pets.” Published online in The New Yorker, Ms. Horowitz sums up just how a dog may perceive getting dressed in costume, and encourages you to imagine how things would be if the tables were turned.
Ms. Horowitz explains that dogs will put up with and have adapted to some of our silliness, Halloween costumes included since we have domesticated them to be accommodating. Further, she explains costumes from a dog’s perspective,“ He gets your attention, and probably an extra round of liver treats. Aside from the liver, there is little as nourishing to a dog as the attention of his owner.”
Given that it’s commonly believed that one of the reasons why dogs engage in behavior like tail-chasing and licking their owners’ faces is because of the attention (and giggles) that ensue, it’s understandable that dogs may easily tolerate, even enjoy, Halloween. Have you ever heard of a dog complaining he received too much attention and too many treats from his person?
Regardless of the attention and treats, not all dogs will welcome wearing costumes.
If your dog is one of those, go easy — skip the costume or add a simple bandana or bow to his or furry costume, the one that’s worn year-round. You know your dog and can recognize when he or she is uncomfortable. Also, it goes without saying costumes should never be constricting or unsafe.
And according to Horowitz, we can look at the behavior of our dog’s ancestor, the wolf, for one explanation as to why dogs behave like they do when dressed in costume. Read more about this fascinating interpretation in this article.
See the full article “On Dressing Up Your Pets” from Alexandra Horowitz at The New Yorker
See great dog Halloween safety tips from Victoria Stillwell’s Positively site:
See Woof Report’s past tip about Andrea Horowitz and her book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
Find the Dog Lion (Doglion?) costume in the photo above at Amazon.com
Originally published October 2010; reviewed and updated November 2017.