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It has been a long time since Halloween was a holiday mainly enjoyed by children. These days, there are plenty of dog costumes in pet stores, big box stores, and online, and you can even hand-make them. But before getting a dog costume, here are some things to consider.

What to Do Before Buying a Dog Costume

Keep in mind that your dog is not as interested in Halloween as their owners are. They think their coat or fur is just fine.

If your dog is more shy or reserved, it’s probably a good idea to just let them relax at home without a costume. If your dog is a social butterfly, then they may not mind wearing a silly outfit for their favorite person. Just plan ahead, so they have time to get accustomed to wearing the costume before Halloween.

Beauceron in lion's mane dog Halloween costume.
Victoria Paul

When you find the perfect costume for your dog, do a safety check before purchasing it. Try to avoid buying a dog costume that makes the dog too hot, restricts movement or breathing, or has toxic ingredients or elements they could choke on. Make sure your dog’s field of vision isn’t blocked, too.

How to Get Your Dog Into a Costume

Purchase the costume at least two weeks before your dog will be wearing it to an event. Introduce your dog to the costume slowly. First, simply show it to them and give them some dog treats. After a couple of days, drape the costume over their back, then give more treats. After a couple more days, put the outfit on them and give them lots of delicious treats.

You want to give your dog a reason to believe that, if they wear this outfit, great things will happen to them. By giving them treats, you’re associating wearing the outfit with rewards (and using positive reinforcement training techniques). This way, the dog will begin to build that relationship between costume and treats in their mind. Also, it’s important to always supervise your dog when they’re wearing a costume.

What to Do if Your Dog Gets Overwhelmed

Think about how people will react to seeing your dog in the costume. They may shriek with delight, point, or laugh hysterically, behaviors that may make any dog pause. Loud noises or big gestures from people can make them very uneasy or even anxious. Again, the costume means nothing to them (well, except for all the great treats they associate with it).

Pug laying down indoors looking sad.
claudiodoenitzperez/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

If they look unhappy, try to remove them from the situation and take off the dog costume. If you make a point of knowing how a happy dog looks, it’ll be easier to tell when they’re stressed. However, it’s still a good idea to learn signs of stress in a dog. Stress signs in a dog may include whites of the eyes showing more than usual, ears pinned low, and/or tail tucked. They may cower, holding their body and their head low.

After all, dogs deserve to enjoy the party, whether or not they’re in disguise.

Related article: Halloween Safety Tips for Dog Owners
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