That Halloween Costume May Embarrass Your Dog

Before you go shopping for a vampire costume for your Dachshund, have you stopped to consider whether you may be damaging his self-esteem with the getup?

The Houston Chronicle did, and sent a reporter to interview “experts” who disagree about whether or not costumes embarrass your dogs. The consensus is that dogs are uneasy in costumes, but it’s unclear whether the reason is discomfort or shame.

One TV/radio pet psychic said your pooch is self-conscious when you dress him funny:

“They feel everything. And they know when people laugh at them. I talk to thousands of animals, and even if people laugh at them if they have been cut too short, it really hurts their feelings.”

A Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine professor agrees pets don’t like to play dress-up, but that’s mostly because they’re uncomfortable.

“I doubt that they feel humiliation,” she tells the newspaper.

If you’re a dog owner, what’s your costume policy?

Experts differ on whether Halloween costumes [Houston Chronicle via Fark]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Whether or not it embarasses your pet, it definitely embarasses yourself.

  2. missdona says:

    My mini. schnauzer is a male, and 16. He’s not just down with that. It’s like dressing up your grandpa.

    I might go there if I had a girl dog, though.

  3. Pooterfish says:

    I would be tempted to dismiss the idea of dogs feeling humiliated, but as they are social/pack animals I think it’s possible that being laughed at registers at some level.

    Perhaps your dachshund can tell that his standing in the pack is diminished by being dressed up as a hot dog.

    If that’s true, then the fact that the alpha dog did it to him makes it even worse. He’s probably confused about why he’s being punished and demoted.

  4. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I paid good money for this costume so “may embarass” just ain’t gonna cut it. I require a “shall embarass” grade costume.

  5. minjche says:

    I don’t know if a pet psychic deserves their own block quote, especially when it receives more emphasis than a professor of veterinary medicine :-P

    Interesting story though. I wasn’t going to be dressing up my puppy for halloween anyway.

  6. Thyme for an edit button says:

    My policy is to LOL, take photos, and give my pet a treat.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I think some animals actually do require additional covering, though. Small dogs with very little fur to keep them warm (chihuahuas and dachshunds come to mind) may need additional covering if the weather is particularly harsh – dogs need to be walked, after all, weather be damned.

    But if you want to dress your dog in a costume for Hallloween, that’s just embarrassing for you and uncomfortable for the dog. Cats just bide their time until you’re asleep, and then suddenly there’s a pillow over your face and a 15-pound cat on top of it.

    • Firethorn says:

      If you put a coat on a shorthair dog during the winter, and you do it everytime you go to take them for a walk, they get used to it, even look forward to it. Much like how, when we go ‘you want to go for a walk’ to our dogs, they fetch their own leashes.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      Our little dog LOVES his winter sweaters. Poor short-haired kid just can’t stay warm without a little help.

      We haven’t done a costume for him, but we probably will this year. Since he’s a total attention whore, my guess is that he will be thrilled rather than embarrassed.

  8. A Bay Horse says:

    Ask my cat if it feels embarrassment.

  9. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    It is stupid. At the least the animal is forced to have something on its body that is uncomfortable/strange. Apparently people are the ones who enjoy this foolishness, not the animals. It looks like Halloween is turning into national “Humiliate Your Dog Day.”

  10. theinstallguy says:

    Hell No! If you wont be caught dead in it, why would you put your pet in it?

  11. webweazel says:

    I think it depends more on the personality of the dog, and how frequently they wear “clothes” than anything else. Some dogs are shy, and getting dressed up once a year for Halloween might be stressful. Other dogs may be gregarious, love attention, and get “dressed up” by the kids throughout the year. These wear it proudly with a wag of the tail.
    Might also depend on the purpose. Our Dobie had her own backpack for walks in the woods/around town. She liked to wear it, and held her head high when she did. She was getting a bit too old and infirm to wear it, so it got put on one of our younger dogs for some recent outings. The Dobie sulked for hours. If she could have cried tears, she would have.

  12. NORMLgirl says:

    I said I would never put clothes on my dog. Then, I discovered the doggy Darth Vader costume. My black lab loves the cape, but he will only tolerate the “helmet” for a few minutes.

  13. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Since this is Catsumerist, dressing up isn’t just for dogs:

    Those cats are so happy that they can’t even be bothered to look at the camera!

  14. magadorspartacus says:

    My dog wouldn’t get embarassed. She would probably think, “F*** this,” and start chewing on it.

  15. MustWarnOthers says:

    Some people may not have noticed but most animals, dogs and cats included, come pre-loaded with an outfit.

    They clean it daily (with some occasional assistance from their owners) and they do not seem to be concerned with the fact that they wear the same thing every day.

    Stop putting outfits and costumes on your pets. It’s never cute, it’s always sad.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      My cat has to wear a onesie to keep her from licking her tumour. We tried a cone; she just escaped it. With the onesie, she can still clean her front, tummy and legs. If you have a better solution, I’d love to hear it.

  16. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I have a hard time putting stock in anything a ‘pet psychic’ says.

  17. MeOhMy says:

    My costume policy is that it must not annoy or cause the dog discomfort. My dog is ok with “clothing,” as she does at times wear sweatshirts/jackets/Eagles jerseys. Actually she seems to love them…hold up one of her shirts and she’ll stand on her hind legs the same as if you were holding a treat. But if I see her tugging at something, I take it off immediately.

    Her “halloween costume” usually consists of a kerchief/cape that can be tied around her neck or attached to her collar.

    Though, we do have a chicken costume for her that we will dress her in just long enough to get a picture. There’s a story behind it – the SPCA told us she was surrendered because she kills chickens (also, my dog is smaller than some chickens), so it’s an amusing “wolf in sheeps clothing” gag for those that are aware of her checkered past. I do not think she feels “embarassed”. Dogs have a pretty good sense of people’s emotions but I don’t think they can differentiate “laughing with them” vs. “laughing at them.” They pretty much take everything at face value. Laughing is fundamentally positive/friendly…if they understand it at all there is no way they understand it to the level of getting embarassed if you laugh it them.

  18. MB17 says:

    “I talk to thousands of animals, and even if people laugh at them if they have been cut too short, it really hurts their feelings.”

    lol. I wish I could meet this lady just for entertainment purposes.

    Anyways, owners shouldn’t dress their pets. Forcing a sweater on a naturally furry pooch is pure self-indulgence. I crammed a t-shirt on my boxer dog when I was eight. Despite his squirming and obvious irritation, I was adamant getting that shirt on.

    Sorry I stripped of dignity that day Surgo.

  19. ElizabethD says:

    A friend of mine just bought a banana split costume (Target, I think) for her little terrier. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

    My own dog, age 12 and a mutt, would definitely be embarrassed and also a bit anxious if we put a costume on her. I’ll leave her some dignity and refrain.

  20. Pinkbox says:

    My cats already embarrass themselves on a daily basis, causing me to laugh. No need for costumes!

  21. aloria says:

    My french bulldog loves wearing clothes. He is already an attention whore, and parading around in clothes just gets him that much more attention. He will pull his hoodie ( out of the bin I keep it in and bring it to me.

    Dogs are pretty easy to read… if they have that sad look in their face, tail down, or are scratching at themselves, they probably don’t want to be in the costume.

  22. Gravitational Eddy says:

    My dog doesn’t need a costume. She’s a dark Cairn Terrier, a dead ringer for Toto. I however, will be dressed as Dorothy, in gingham and petticoats, complete with ruby slippers and mustache.
    I’m doing middle aged Dorothy. You know, the one with all the crises.

  23. Dustbunny says:

    Call me insensitive, but pugs + costumes = hilarity.

  24. Gravitational Eddy says:

    Egad, that didn’t come out right.
    I’m going to be doing Dorothy…… no, that’s not right either.
    I’ll be doing an impersonation of Dorothy…..yeah that’ll work, but too formal.
    I will be the one dressed as Dorothy, from the Wizard Of OZ, and will have the “little dog, too”.

  25. bizeesheri says:

    We put a princess costume (had a hat that was tall and pointy) on our male chi-weenie. He just layed there as we laughed, with a big FU look. which made it funnier. When we put the macho costume on him, he was strutting around. Probably YMMV with the dog.

  26. Daverson says:

    Hahahahaha…”pet psychic.” I just found a new synonym for “fucking idiot.”

  27. redskull says:

    I love dogs, but realistically I doubt that an animal that licks its privates in public and eats its own poo can feel embarrassment.

  28. JulesNoctambule says:

    I’m considering upgrading Clare’s onesie to a costume for Halloween. She likes the new one more than the old one, possibly because the fabric is thinner.

    And hey — if the cat protests the costume, at least I’ll come out of it with a bandage-tastic mummy costume for myself this year!

  29. kmw2 says:

    I put my sister’s german shepard in a chihuahua costume last year. She loved it.

  30. razz4901 says:

    Costume or not Tuggie prefers to lick his own balls, rather than play dress up…

  31. haggis for the soul says:

    Maybe it’s not embarrassment but the squealy response that humans tend to have to animals in costumes that bugs them. If they’re bugged, that is.

  32. DashTheHand says:

    The most we’ll do to our dogs is give them a bandanna for the boy and either a girl colored bandanna for the girl or the groomer that we take them to occasionally automatically puts a small bow on her head.

    In the winter the non-double coated girl gets a coat or sweater to keep her warm outside.

    Other than that, don’t dress your dogs like children people. Its embarrassing for yourself, not them.

  33. biggieshorty says:

    My LOVES getting dressed up. She is such a ham, and a major attention whore. I’m seriously starting to think that she used to be a circus dog. How else did she know how to put on that tutu?

  34. CountryJustice says:

    I have a miniature poodle. Her name is Tuesday. Tuesday is a total fucking diva. She hates everyone but her people. She usually hates other dogs, especially if they are bigger than her. She loves cats. She goes berserk over a fresh-cooked turkey.

    She also loves clothes. We have a big under-bed storage bin full of shirts, hoodies, and costumes. If you pull something out, she acts the same way as if you pull a turkey out of the oven. You can hold the garment up to her and she will put her head and legs through the correct openings. And then she will prance about in complete bliss. I bet if she had thumbs she’d just do it all herself.

    We laugh at her, but she’s far too proud to be embarassed. Shame never even comes close to entering the equation. Tuesday doesn’t give one hot shit what we think.

    I know human beings that could learn a thing or two from Tuesday. My dog is awesome.

    • Maglet says:

      So, you pretty much have the cutest dog ever then.

      My schnauzer doesn’t love clothes, but for the 5 minutes that he had on his devil costume last, I was completely convinced that he may, in fact, be the devil. He makes a mean devil…

      I don’t think embarrassment is an issue. They’re probably just uncomfortable.

  35. tiz says:

    does my dog look embarassed to you?


  36. firemunkie says:

    i have four dogs. two pugs a dachshund and a boxer. the pugs love to dress up, but the male is a fatty and doesnt have any clothes that fit him so he is uncomfortable when i dress him up, he does gets excited when i bring out his clothing. the female loves her dresses. this is the same for the boxer, when he puts on a tshirt he just loves it. the dachshund doesnt care much but dressing process is uncomfortable for him because of his short legs and he is a whiny sob. also they only get dressed when we “go out” so that might why they get excited cus they know they are going for a car ride.

  37. ohayou_kun says:

    No costume, no boots, no nothing. That is because he will refuse to pee or poop, thus rendering our walk absolutely useless. Plus he would probably tear the clothes to shreds due to pure unadulterated hatred.

  38. vicarp says:

    They are uncomfortable in any clothing that covers their back. They are dogs, not humans. They aren’t supposed to wear clothes. Clothing on them makes them feel like they are being dominated. So yea – they are uncomfortable.

  39. erinpac says:

    My parents’ dog likes costumes and clothing. He will bring you jackets when it is cold or rainy for him and whine so you put them on before he goes out. He will get excited when a costume is finished for him or comes home in a bag and drag it around. If you add something like a hat, headband or sunglasses, he walks around all day all carefully so it won’t fall off. Seriously, he wore novelty bunny ears all Easter that weren’t even made to fit a dog. On Halloween he insists on being on the porch, in costume, until the trick or treaters are long, long gone.

    I think he likes the attention from getting pictures taken or kids who think it’s cute. He’s a huge ham. Though, he must have figured out at some point that the fleece jacket is nice in the snow and the yellow slicker keeps him dry.

    He won’t wear booties though. No way. Refuses, rips em off.

    Really, I don’t see how he could be uncomfortable or embarased. It’s not like it took teaching him – a few minutes in a jacket after we got him and he figured out they were HIS and will ask for them. Mostly he wears stuff on holidays, in the cold, rain, and such. He doesn’t wear them all the time, but he does get excited if you get dog clothes out and does beg for them in poor weather and such.