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October 28, 2021

Dog Halloween costume advice for 2021! I know I'm cutting it close, but a lot of dogs get put through too much stress purely for a good laugh or cute pix for IG or a funny video clip for TikTok. Avoid these common dog Halloween costume mistakes with this advice from a longtime dog mom who learned these lessons the hard way + ideas on what to do instead.


Canine Halloween Costume Mistake #1

Putting stuff on your dog's head. A few dogs handle this fine, but many dogs hate having things on their heads. Exhibit A, Mr. Stix saying no bueno to the sombrero. Do you see him hiding under there? Poor baby. Bad momma!

3 black and white dogs dressed as 3 amigos, dog in the middle is hiding on the floor underneath a sombrero that he does not want to wear. The dogs on either side have their sombreros strapped behind their shoulders.

You'll notice that Clover and Tori have their hats strapped behind their shoulders to avoid noggin issues. Stix did not like that option either, so the final photo turned out like this, which is 100% fine. When a dog declines something we think is funny, it's much better to honor your dog's wishes and dislikes.

All three look fairly serious below, maybe not 100% thrilled with me, but they only wore the hats for a couple minutes, then just ran around with their little necktie things for a bit. We bought the hats, but I made the tie things. 

3 black and white dogs dressed as 3 amigos, dog in the middle is not wearing his sombrero. It's on the floor in front of him. The dogs on either side have their sombreros strapped behind their shoulders.

Common Mistake #2 With Dog Costumes

Making dogs wear tight or weird costumes on their bodies, especially if it somehow hinders leg or tail movement. 

Happy to say I do not have any photos of my own to show for this particular mistake

How to know if your dog hates a Halloween costume?
  • Dog walks funny
  • Dog sits or lies down 
  • Dog refuses to move 
  • Dog hides

Learn more about dog body language and dog calming signals + what it all means.

Dog Halloween Costume Mistake #3

Making dogs wear anything that requires shoes on a dog's paws -- if not already accustomed to it.

While many dogs learn to wear shoes or boots for safety reasons, like on ice or while hiking abrasive terrain, acclimation takes time and patience and training to help them learn to like -- or at least tolerate -- wearing things on their feet. 

Over the years, I tried several brands of dog boots, but none of them stay on if the dogs run at all. Exhibit B. Notice Tori is missing 1 boot after playing in the snow. 

black and white dog, standing in the snow with some mountains and snowy pine trees behind her, one boot is missing on a front leg

Dog Halloween Fun - What to Do Instead?

Rather than potentially upset your dog with a costume, look for low-impact Halloween garb for dogs, like things that only go around a dog's neck or a bandana.

For example, our 3 went as RBG last year. 

3 black and white dogs dressed as supreme court justice RBG for halloween, wearing black fabric collars covered with white hand-crocheted collars on top of the black as their dog halloween costume

Look around for cute Halloween collars or other Halloween-themed props too. 

black and white hound-like dog wearing a decorative pumpkin collar ruffle thing and with a treat or treat back hanging in front of him

I also found this cute Halloween garland with sparkly orange pumpkins at a craft store one year. It's pretty fragile, so it's really only good for a quick photo or 2, but you can see how much HAPPIER Clover and Tori are with low-impact items rather than full-blown dog Halloween costumes.

2 border collies, one wearing a black/orange collar ruffle thing with pumpkin designs on it. The other wearing a sparkly pumpkin garland around her neck. Both are smiling.

Feel free to comment with any other dog costume mistakes you've seen over the years. 

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. Roxanne, excellent article! So many dog owners get carried away with clothing, it’s a huge industry that appeals to the kid in us. Personally each of my dogs let me know how much and what they would tolerate and out of respect tried never to push costumes nor clothes. I’m purchasing more copies of your book for Christmas including one for myself, I loaned mine to a friend who really needed it. Ever thankful for you introducing me to what a HEART dog is!

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