DogSpeak: Dressing Your Dog In A Halloween Costume? Watch Their Body Language!

Chihuahua in little pumpkin costume

(Picture 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.

Do you know 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. And sometimes that means we want to dress them up in adorable Halloween costumes for tricks and treats!

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 on Halloween.

When Your Dog Is Relaxed In Their Costume

Selective focus of a young woman sitting on the floor in her bedroom next to the bed and taking a photo with mobile phone of her cute puppy in a Halloween costume. He has Jack o' lantern hat on his had.

(Picture Credit: fotostorm/Getty Images)

If your dog is comfortable wearing a costume, they’ll let you know through their body language. Here are a few signs that will tell you that your pup is feeling good:

  • Ears in relaxed and neutral position–not pinned backed or pricked forward.
  • Loose and relaxed jaw, accompanied by a floppy tongue.
  • Soft relaxed eyes that are not frequently blinking, wincing, or fixed with a hard direct stare.

If you’re not seeing these signs from your pooch, they may not be that into their costume. They might prefer to don a festive bandanna or pumpkin-themed collar over the full holiday getup. Your pup will still look adorable if you decide to keep it simple, and they’ll be much more comfortable.

When Your Dog Is Anxious Or Stressed



If your dog is not cool with dressing up for Halloween, you’ll probably be able to tell if you know what to look for. Here are a few signs that your dog feels anxiety or stress about their Halloween costume:

  • Closed mouth with a tight jaw.
  • Eyes staring, wincing, or long, slow blinking.
  • Head turned away
  • Head slung low
  • Refusing to move

If you see any of this body language from your dog, it’s time to take off the costume and find a less restrictive alternative, or skip the dress up and the anxiety that can come with it.

Dogs Are Dogs, And That’s Okay

This holiday is certainly one that should be fun! I try not to poop on the parade too much, but putting dogs in costumes 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 mostly 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.

This makes our relationship no less strong, fun, or important. In fact, understanding our dogs, their body language, 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, get a cute collar or bandanna and skip the costume. And for the love of your drooling devil–and their safety–make sure you hoard all of the chocolate for yourself!

Does your dog feel comfortable in a Halloween costume? Do they let you know if they’re stressed through their body language? Let us know in the comments below!