Our pets are part of our family, so wanting to share the fun and excitement of holidays and special occasions with them is a no-brainer. Halloween is a particularly great holiday for dogs and their parents, since it offers a great opportunity to dress up and get out of the house for exercise and socializing.
Whether you are trick-or-treating with your dog or taking part in a Halloween dog parade, you are basically taking your dog for a walk. You are also giving your dog a chance to meet other people and dogs, and, hopefully, have a very positive experience. But before you begin choosing a costume for your furry companion, there are a few things worth considering.
Before You Buy or Make a Dog Costume
It’s easy to get really excited about dressing up your fur child for Halloween, but you want to make sure your dog will enjoy it as much as you will. Taking some time out to make sure the following needs are met for your dog will help ensure you both have a positive experience.
Put Your Dog’s Happiness First
Regardless of where you take your dog on your Halloween outing, remember that your dog’s experience of the situation should be your primary concern. Make the event revolve around seeing your dog romp and play and, most importantly, seeing that tail wag.
You should be able to identify when your dog is happy and when he or she is uncomfortable or anxious. If your dog looks stressed, take him or her home if the stress cannot be alleviated. If you were having fun, you can always go back out without your pet.
Make Sure Your Dog is Comfortable with the Situation
For many dogs, being around strange people or other dogs is uncomfortable or even a bit frightening. Oh Halloween, this situation is compounded by all the strange costumes and unfamiliar sights and sounds.
We may recognize that costumes with big claws and fangs don’t represent a danger, but for a dog, these can easily be misconstrued as signs of danger or aggression. This may be especially true for a rescue dog that has had trauma in it’s past.
Before heading out for Halloween festivities, make sure your dog is comfortable in crowds and will not be triggered by scary and strange costumes.
Make Sure Your Dog is Comfortable in its Costume
An uncomfortable costume can make for a miserable night for a human being, and the same holds true for dogs. But for a dog, things are made much worse by the difficulty in communicating that discomfort. Making sure your dog’s costume fits correctly and is comfortable is key to ensuring that your dog enjoys the experience of wearing it.
These days, there are a near infinite variety of store-bought pet costumes available in a multitude of sizes to fit practically any dog, so for your first Halloween experience together, you may want to leave the costume making to the pros and just buy one. If it doesn’t fit, you can always return it for another size or a different costume that fits your dog perfectly.
If you do like to make your own costumes, and also want to make one for your dog, having a store bought costume that you know works well and fits your pet correctly will give you a pattern to go off of when designing your own the following year.
Once you’ve procured a costume and are sure it fits your dog well, have a few “practice Halloweens” at home where you and your pet dress up and play around the house. If your dog sees you in a crazy get up, it may help to make the experience more comfortable for your dog and your dog will know how to recognize you when you are at last out at the big event.
Have Everything Your Dog Needs to Be Happy
The day or night of your Halloween outing, make sure you have along whatever supplies you need to keep your dog happy and healthy. It may mean bringing along a small backpack if you don’t think you will find what your pet needs at the destination, but it is a small price to pay for a super fun experience with your best friend.
The most important item to bring along is water and a container for your dog to drink out of. And since it’s all about trick-or-treating, you definitely want to make sure you have some of your dog’s favorite treats on hand. A treat can be a great distraction if your dog becomes frightened or agitated. Also, bringing along a favorite toy or a small blanket that smells of home can really help calm a nervous dog that is unsure about this weird new experience called Halloween.
One last consideration that is often overlooked is a dog’s feet. If you are doing a lot of walking, concrete can be tough on a dog’s tootsies, and even in late October, dark pavement can get pretty hot. Many active dog parents have gotten their fur child used to wearing booties like the QUMY Dog Boots and many dogs actually seem to appreciate the extra level of protection for their foot pads.
One last thing: if it is a crowded event like an outdoor party or Halloween parade, make sure your dog’s feet won’t get stepped on. Humans in costumes can’t always see where they stepping!
But What About the Dog Costume Ideas?
Now that we know your doggie is going to be happy in a Halloween costume and will have fun at the event you are taking him or her to, we can move on to the fun part: choosing a costume for you and your dog! As you read through the suggestions below, we’ll put links in the text to some great dog (and people) costumes we’ve found over the years.
Costume Ideas for a Dog and One Person
If it is just you and your dog (or your child and his or her pet) dressing up this year, then choosing a Halloween costume that reflects familiar duos from history or popular culture is a great way to go. Superheroes and their sidekicks always make for awesome matching dog-and-parent costumes, but don’t overlook other well-known duos like Laurel and Hardy, Sonny and Cher, Bonnie and Clyde, Bert and Ernie, Holmes and Watson, and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me.
Inanimate object duos are another great source of costume ideas. Salt and pepper shakers is an easy costume to pull off for you and your pet, but you could also consider going as a hamburger and fries, peanut butter and jelly, thunder and lightning, rum and coke, coffee and a donut, or the sun and moon.
You can also mix a human character with an animal or inanimate object. Some examples would be a rodeo clown and a bull, Captain Kirk and a tribble, Harry Potter and Hedwig the Owl, Tom Hanks’ Castaway character and Wilson the soccer ball, or a human character from Jurassic Park and a raptor.
Star Wars is a fantastic source for duo Halloween costume themes and because there are so many commercially available costumes for both humans and dogs, this can be a great way to go if you don’t have much time to put something together on your own. Han Solo and Chewbacca is an obvious choice, but you could also go as C-3po and R2d2, a Tusken Raider and a Jawa, or Luke Skywalker or Princes Leia and an Ewok.
Costume Ideas for Couples and Their Dog
For dog parent couples with a dog (or dogs), Halloween costume possibilities abound!
Some of our favorites that we have seen over the years include combinations of Pokemon characters; a beekeeper and his (or her) bees; and Pooh, Tigger, and Eyore from Winnie the Pooh.
Ghostbusters is always an excellent choice when looking for Halloween costume ideas and your ghostbusters costumes will be even more of a hit if your canine companion comes dressed as a ghost.
Morticia and Gomez from The Addams Family is another popular choice for a couple at any Halloween party, but the costume is even more awesome if you are accompanied by the much smaller and hirsute Cousin It.
Are you and your significant other Game of Thrones fans? John Snow, Dany, and a dragon would be a great Halloween costume for a couple and their dog (or two dogs!). You could also go dressed as Dr. Who and Leela with your fur child dressed as K9, their robot companion.
One last fun suggestion is to go as Rocky and Bullwinkle with your dog dressed as, you guessed it, Mr. Peabody!
Costume Ideas for the Whole Family
Whether you are headed out to a Halloween parade or party with family and friends, or just trick-or-treating with the kids, group costumes are always a blast. But bringing along the family dog can make the experience exponentially more fun!
Because popular movies and TV shows feature large casts of characters that easily recognizable, they make for a great source of Halloween costume ideas. Luckily, there are countless films and shows that feature dogs or smaller characters that can make for a great dog costume.
The aforementioned Jurassic Park is a great costume for a group and very easy to pull off. use the same raptor costume mentioned above and put someone else in your group in this t rex outfit!
Everyone everywhere immediately recognizes characters from the Wizard of Oz and, if you have a small terrier to play Toto, this is an exceptionally great choice for a group costume. Pro tip: if you have a group of dogs, dress them as flying monkeys!
Cartoons are another great source for costume ideas. The Flintstones is always a fun group costume and everyone will love seeing your dog dressed up as Dino the pet dinosaur! Brian on The Family Guy is a great costume for a light-colored dog – all you need is a giant red collar. And of course, let’s not forget The Peanuts, Scooby Doo, and The Jetsons, all of which feature famous dogs.
Costume Ideas for Dogs with Special Needs
If you have a very young puppy or a senior dog for whom walking may not be an option, it doesn’t mean you can’t take them out to a dog-friendly Halloween event or even a Halloween dog parade. The trick is coming up with a costume that allows your dog to ride along comfortably in a wagon or baby stroller.
Some really great ideas include dressing your dog up like a fish and making the wagon look like an aquarium, or dressing your dog up like a cowboy and decorate the wagon like a conestoga wagon. You could also put a lion’s mane on your dog and turn the wagon into a circus wagon, or dress up your dog like Chewabacca and decorate the wagon or stroller like the Millenium Falcon.
If your dog is in training to be more social and you are concerned about biting or nipping, then one of these scary dog muzzles might be a good choice. It could help avert disaster if your dog suddenly feels the urge to nip. but please use common sense: if your dog is not used to wearing a muzzle, the experience could be far more negative than positive. Consult with a veterinarian or qualified dog trainer before considering any of the above, including even exposing your dog to the weirdness and confusion of Halloween.
Again, Your Dog’s Happiness Comes First!
As mentioned above, bringing your furry family member along for Halloween fun is only ever a good idea if it is first and foremost for their enjoyment. At the first sign that your dog is feeling stressed, frightened, or nervous, remove the stimulus that is causing him or her stress, and be prepared to head home immediately if that is not possible.
Halloween can be a truly magical experience for a dog and a great way for him or her to bond with their human companions and become more socialized and comfortable out in public. The key takeaways here are to make sure your dog’s costume is comfortable, that the event is not going to be too stressful, and you have everything you need to make sure your dog is happy and healthy. Keep that tail wagging this Halloween!