Learning the Hard Way – The Essentials of Halloween Dog Costume Design

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Learning the Hard Way – The Essentials of Halloween Dog Costume Design

Many dog ​​clubs and animal organizations sponsor activities throughout the year where you and your pooch can bond. This is especially true at Halloween, when you and your dog will have the opportunity to participate in costume contests, parades and other events to show off your creativity. Our local Humane Society, for example, has a “Howling Party,” while our dog club has its annual “Fun Fair.” Other organizations hold dog parades. The best part about all these events is that you can show off your dog in costume!

Even if you’re staying at home this year and waiting for trick-or-treaters to come, consider having your dog in costume walk you out the door. Or, if you have trained him to open the door to greet guests – even better! If this is the case, your dog must also be trained not to jump on the guests when they arrive. A well-dressed dog greeter might have the neighborhood kids running away before they get their treats if he jumps on them.

Before I became a dog owner, I thought it was stupid, unfair, and maybe a little inhumane to dress up dogs for Halloween. Since those days, I have become a dog owner and now understand that dogs love to participate in all activities (except a trip to the vet). Participating in Halloween festivities together with your favorite furry friend is another opportunity for you to enjoy your time together.

DOG COSTUME WORDS OF WISDOM:

Over the years, I’ve learned a few lessons about dressing up dogs for Halloween. Every year as Halloween approaches, I work feverishly trying to create the perfect dog costume. Spending hours sewing parts of old mops, I tried to make my terrier into an instant Komondor (aka Hungarian Sheepdog). For one day, I wanted him to feel like one of those amazing dogs with a Rasta-style hairdo. When people saw it, they exclaimed, “Hey, it’s a dog in a dog costume!” But, I really think, it’s a dog in a people’s costume!

As I proudly walked down the street with him in his Komondor costume, he decided to rock until his costume des mops dragged between us. From a distance, I thought he might succeed as a street sweeper. But to my dismay, he didn’t. As the crowd looked on, he just looked like a dog dragging a huge mop down the street – how embarrassing!

This is when I learned the first two essential rules for dog grooming:

1. Keep the costume light.

2. Keep the outfit simple.

The next year, I had a puppy to dress up. Building an adorable lightweight dress was my only goal. Since the puppy loved to carry objects in her mouth, I covered a stick in leather for her to bite and carry. So, I tried to put a pair of panties on her. She screamed frantically, bounced and moved them, and therefore refused to let me near her with underwear in hand.

This is when I learned the third essential rule of dog etiquette:

3. Always give your dog a test run before assuming she will wear every outfit you have. Or, better yet, have your dog wear the costume around the house before Halloween so she gets used to it. You don’t learn the hard way.

Next year, I made plans to take my older dog to the Halloween dog parade again. Since I had learned from experience, I fashionably chose a dress that was simple, easy to make and light. My dog ​​was going to be “a walking board!” I glued two rectangular pieces of foam core with material in the center and was going to put it on top of my dog. This time, however, I was determined to be smart about it, letting him get used to it first – following my third rule.

It worked well as I walked around the house and the billboard outfit got some great laughs from friends and family members. I was happy that things would be better than the previous two years. When the parade started, we walked together and suddenly he did the unexpected, as if he had planned everything. He crouched down and the billboard became an inflexible tent. He was able to walk right out of it, which got additional laughs from the crowd, but meant an immediate disqualification from the contest.

This is when I learned the fourth essential rule of dog etiquette:

4. Expect the unexpected, even when you think you’ve thought of everything!

The next year, I tied a large helium balloon around the dog’s midsection and put a small light blanket over it. The blanket had a small box sitting on it with two stuffed animals. I had ribbons around the bottom of the globe that I attached to the box. The dress was adorable, or so I thought. It was a ball costume. The bobbing balloon must have been more exciting to the other dogs because as soon as the other dogs saw it, they started to move away from their owners in search of the bright red balloon. Fortunately, I had a pair of scissors and cut the rope. Up, up, up it went. Bailey and I were free, but so was our balloon. And once again, we were disqualified from the parade, as had become a tradition.

This is when I learned the fifth and sixth essential rules of dog etiquette:

5. Be prepared. Before you go to any meeting, think about what you should bring in case something needs a quick fix or if something goes wrong.

6. Bring your camera and have plenty of film. I wish I had a photo of my dog ​​in his balloon outfit before I snipped the string. Also check your camera batteries. And, have a friend take some photos of you and your dog together – you’ll enjoy yourself later.

Last year, however, I took the easy way out. I bought a Superman costume from a costume store. Most costume shops now carry such paraphernalia. The dress was light, which was a plus. I decided to use only the cape and keep the other parts of the dress as back up. So one time we went to our annual dog club “Fun Fair”, and one of the featured activities was a Halloween dog parade with a prize for “Best Costume”.

My dog ​​was dressed upon arrival. I tied the cape under his chin and that was it. The kids shout, “It’s Super Dog!” The adults respond by shouting “Not original!” Someone came up to me and asked, “What happened? We expected it to at least be original.” Feeling guilty, I sat there without taking home any prizes. But, it was my “Super Dog’s” first time participating in his first Halloween parade. To me, he looked great and I was so proud of him. Then towards the end of the night, we were called, along with several other “Super Dogs” wearing the same outfit, for a photo shoot.

Copyright © 2008 Melanie Light

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