Dear AKC: I recently saw some cool Halloween costumes for dogs in a catalog. I want to buy one that looks like a devil but I'm worried my Pug bitch might not like it. Will she tolerate the costume? -- "Boo" Hound
Dear Boo: Halloween costumes for dogs may be very cute and adorable but they can be hazardous in terms of safety and the emotional well-being of your dog.
I just got a catalog in the mail and saw all the costumes on page two. There was the devil dog costume you spoke of, the Lil' scarecrow, the angle and the bad dog in a jail outfit complete with ball and chain.
I've always wondered if the dogs really like to wear these potentially embarrassing outfits. However, I don't think the dogs would be embarrassed, and really we do it for our enjoyment. I know many of us think of our dogs as members of the family, so dressing them up and going trick or treating with the kids is pretty commonplace today. But when I was a teenager costumes were rarely used on dogs, once I dress up my Schipperke mixed-breed as Santa Claus complete with white beard for Christmas. So I guess this tradition does go back quiet a ways!
If you are going to dress up your pet, my main concern would be the dog's safety. Many times young dogs may chew it up, eating parts of the costume like wires to hold up those angle wings or synthetic fiberfill to make those devil horns stand out. And I can just see a puppy gnawing away on the straw sticking out of the arms of that scarecrow. So if you must dress for Halloween success, I would insist that you always keep your dog supervised when in the costume so she doesn't ingest any parts. Never leave her along in her crate with the costume on either. And limit the time you keep it on her to no more than a half hour.
My other concern might be that your dog is afraid or spooked (ouch!) by wearing one. Some designs might be uncomfortable such as hats, cape or booties with elastic cuffs or bands. If the costume has multiple parts, I would introduce them one at a time, rather than throwing the whole outfit on at once. And once you dog is used to one part, remove it and try another. When she's comfortable walking and running around with all the parts separately, then I would put the ensemble together.
If you are going to a party, watch out other dogs don't tug on necklines or belts that might cause choking or injury to your little girl. Happy Halloween!