Trick or treat! It’s that time of year when dog moms and dog dads costume their doting pooches and celebrate the Halloween season. Did you ever dream of having your dog win a prize in the local parade, online photo contest, or pet event? I’ve judged and entered dozens of dog Halloween costume contests, so I know there are throngs of dog lovers, myself included, who love dressing their canines in spooky, fun, and festive attire each Halloween season. You can read my article for Dogster magazine about how to win a Halloween costume contest for dogs here.
In the meantime, here are some previous entrants (and many winners) from Fidose of Reality Dog Halloween photo contests of years past. As you scroll through these, hopefully you can muster up some ideas for your dog for this year. Before you put a costume on a dog, there are some key points to keep in mind:
(1) If your dog is wearing a costume, make sure he likes it, that it’s comfortable, and that he is familiar with walking in it. Never make a dog dress up if the dog is not happy about it. One sure way to lose is a contest is to put a dog in a costume where he is unhappy, uncomfortable, and just generally not pleased with the situation. My dog wears clothes and is used to it, so this was an easy transition for me. My previous Cocker Spaniel was a year-round clothes wearer for the nearly 15 years she shared this life with me.
(2) Ensure you have the right size of clothing or costume for your dog and that there are no elastic bands, tight areas, nor snaps or buttons that can rub, irritate, or scratch your dog. Dogs should have room and the apparel should not be too tight that it prohibits or restricts any movement.
(3) Some dogs are just not into clothes, and this is perfectly okay. You can bling a dog out with fun collars and leashes or a bandana.
(4) Some dogs, like people, can have an allergic reaction to certain fabrics or materials in fabric. If a dog gets a sudden and continued case of the itches, remove the clothing to avoid problems.
(5) Use the same techniques to get a dog used to clothing or a comfortable costume that you would for something like the Thundershirt. Let your dog wear the clothing in the house for a few minutes. Even if you start with 60 seconds and reward for good behavior, this is a start. If the dog shows a complete disdain for the product, never force them and remove immediately.
Personally, I act like my dog just won Westminster Kennel Club Show and throw a verbal party, “Yay Dexter, good boy, Dexter.” My dog is play motivated, so when he has a piece of clothing on we play ball for 5 to 10 minutes. Suddenly, wearing clothes means playing ball. If the clothing is something heavy, such as a sweater, playing and sweating might not be a good idea.
BONUS HINT: Some costumes are best for photo contests, where a seated position and backdrop are used. Photoshopped photos are excluded from a lot of contests, including ours. Use your best judgment when creating a costume, as some are best modeled in a sit stay.
Here is a cacophony of canine costumes to inspire you to create one of your own or borrow from this selection of talented dog parents:
And if you need more ins-paw-ration, turn up the speakers (or turn them down if you are at working watching this): Thriller provides the paw-fect song for these clever canine costumes:
Are you entering your dog in any online or in-person contests this year? We’d love to hear your ideas, and even better, SEE the pictures. Enter the Fidose of Reality Fifth Annual Dog Halloween photo contest here.