DogSpeak: Halloween And Your Dog

Chihuahua in little pumpkin costume

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Halloween is a time of year when humans of all ages get to be kids again. It gives us an excuse to let loose and play dress up in all things foolish and ghoulish. Some people take months to prepare for this outlandishly festive holiday. Well, guess who else gets roped in to our ghastly human fun–our dogs, of course! We love these little goblins with all we’ve got, and we just need to include them!

Each year, NYC plays host to a Halloween Dog Parade. Dogs come dressed in some fabulously intricate and detailed costumes. Some are so amazing, even Hollywood wardrobe designers would be drooling. This is a shining moment for proud pet parents. However, the costumes might not be so fun for our precious pups. Before you march your pooch in the Halloween parade, make sure your dog is comfortable playing dress up. It’s up to you as the pet parent to know when your dog is stressed. Luckily, there are a few signs you can watch out for to tell how your dog feels about wearing a costume. Here are a few tips for translating your dog’s body language.

When Your Dog Is Relaxed

The photos below shows you a pictures of relaxed dogs. The body language that tells us these guys are feeling good:

1. Ears in relaxed and neutral position — not pinned backed or pricked forward.

2. Loose and relaxed jaw — accompanied by a floppy tongue.

3. Soft relaxed eyes that are not frequently blinking, wincing or fixed with a hard direct stare.

Now, please take the time to flip through NY Magazine and photographer James Kiernan’s photo slideshow–“Dogs Looking Depressed in Their Halloween Costumes“–covering the Halloween parade for dogs. How do you think these freaky friendly Fidos feel about Halloween? What tells us these dogs would probably prefer to don a festive bandanna or pumpkin-themed collar over the full festive getup?

When Your Dog Is Anxious Or Stressed

How do you know when your dog is stressed about wearing a costume? Here are a few signs of anxiety and stress in canines:

1. Closed mouth/tight jaw

2. Eyes – wincing/long slow blinking

3. Head the is turned away

4. Head that is slung low

This holiday is certainly one that should be fun! I try not to poop on the parade too much, but this might be the finest example of dedicated, loving, proud, and concerned pet parent missteps with their canine kids. Whether we like it or not, Halloween is simply a human holiday.

Treating our dogs like royalty sometimes means simply treating them like dogs. Accept them in all their canine beauty, glory, and difference. Our dogs don’t care that we’re not keen on partaking in snacking on a stinky carcass snagged off the dirty street. Likewise, we shouldn’t care that our dogs are not keen on playing dress up with us.

This makes our relationship no less strong, fun, or important. In fact, understanding our dogs, their preferences, and their limitations makes us better pet parents. It strengthens and enriches our time and connection with them.

If you can show some restraint, buy a cute collar or bandana and skip the costume. And for the love of your drooling devil–and his safety–make sure you hoard all of the chocolate!