Why Are People So Mad When I Dress Up My Dog For Halloween?

Dog in squirrel costume on Halloween.

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Pictures of dogs in Halloween costumes on social media are usually met with two kinds of comments. You’ll either get comments like, “Aww, so cute!” or comments that say, “Dogs aren’t people and they hate dressing up and you’re a terrible owner for doing that!” All you probably want when you dress up your pooch is to share your adorable fur baby with the rest of the world. What gives with all the anger? Why are people getting so mad over a Halloween costume?

Why The Anger?

Dog wearing crab costume

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It’s fashionable these days to be loud on the internet and get outraged over any little thing. Being a dog website, we get every outraged comment you can imagine over the smallest points of disagreement–and feel free to post yours below. While these comments start from a place of concern for the well-being of dogs, they tend to go too far, and anger gets misplaced.

A miniature goldendoodle puppy dressed in a Halloween costume looks at the mess created by a pumpkin that is "throwing up." The dog's costume consists of bat wings and there are halloween decorations nearby.

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Some will argue that “Dogs aren’t people,” so they shouldn’t be dressed up. It’s obviously true that dogs are not, in fact, people, but they are our friends, family, and companions, and playing with them, taking pictures with them, and doting on them like they’re our children is what we do. Certainly people who cry, “Abuse!” at a picture of a dog in costume are going too far. We report on stories of animal abuse, and calling a dog in clothes abuse trivializes how serious actual abuse is. But that doesn’t mean that these commenters don’t have a point. Sometimes it’s just not cool to dress up your dog, and there are ways to tell when it’s okay and when it’s not.

When Is It Okay To Dress Your Dog In Costume?

Chihuahua in shark costume, inside of a pumpkin, at the beach.

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Playing “dress up” with your dog needs to be handled on an individual basis. Every dog is different, and some dogs that are fine wearing costumes one day might change their minds the next. Some dogs get chilly and actually need the added warmth of extra clothes, and if you live in a place with harsh weather, these clothes are important. Halloween, specifically, can be a cold day in some places.

My little dog in prince costume.

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But even if your dog doesn’t need the extra warmth, they might still enjoy wearing a costume. All three of my dogs love getting dressed up. My 17-year-old mutt has loved it since he was a puppy. Even as a high-energy dog, he would sit patiently while we placed new collars on him, or his Christmas vest, or a new bandanna, or whatever we wanted to put on him. My other two dogs do the same. They enjoy the attention, and they like that they’ll usually get a treat afterwards. They never scratch at the new garments or try to pull them off, either. But we always look for signs of overheating. If your dog is panting or getting thirsty too often, take the costume off.

When Is It Not Okay?

Small Dog Wearing a Clown Costume on Halloween

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Some dogs hate the feeling of clothes. Dogs with thick fur can overheat, so it’s important that they stay as “naked” as possible. Other dogs don’t like the feeling of confinement and will tug at any new clothes to get them off. And some dogs are nervous or anxious and will find the sudden attention and touching to be frightening. If you find that you have to use force to clothe your dog, you’re doing it wrong. Let your dog decide.

Also, any costume that obstructs your dog’s ability to do dog stuff is not a good idea. Nothing should prevent your pup from reaching his food or water bowl, and nothing should stop them from lying down or moving freely. If your dog is walking funny or showing any signs of discomfort, it’s time to remove the costume. Furthermore, if your dog freezes up and refuses to move like in the video above, your dog is distressed, and you should stop immediately. If the costume prevents them from going potty, be prepared for some accidents and an unhappy dog. Also, some costumes can inhibit your dog’s ability to communicate with body language, which is important for dogs. Don’t use a costume that will inhibit your pup in any way and never leave your dog in a costume unattended.

How Do You Deal With The Angry People?

Prize-winning small dog wearing green outfit and sporting top-dog ribbon at a dog show

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So you’ve found out that your dog loves wearing costumes, but you still get angry comments. This is the internet, after all. You may even get some dirty looks and remarks in real life, too, especially if you take your dog out trick-or-treating. How you handle those comments is entirely up to you. I personally have no problem blocking or banning negative commenters on the internet, but maybe you like to encourage discussion and debate. If that’s the case, you can simply explain that your dog likes wearing costumes and point out that the dog is not in distress.

A dog wearing a devil costume

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If you get negativity from people in the real world, you can just walk away or invite them to see how happy and relaxed your dog is. The important thing is that you don’t let these people get you down. They don’t know your dog, they don’t know you, and they don’t know what’s best for your pup any more than you do. You certainly don’t owe them any explanations.

So if your dog is cool with it, have a blast this Halloween. Dress up your pup and post pictures in the comments below!

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