You’ve seen all the cute dog costumes out there. Bumblebees, Pug-kin Spice Lattes, hot dogs, tacos, pirates, Yodas – the options are endless and oh-so-cute. It’s hard to resist the urge to dress up your pup and put on a photoshoot for the ‘gram, but before you go snapping that adorable dinosaur costume, here’s a few things you need to know about dogs and costumes.

Start Slow

You wouldn’t thrust your dog into a strange and unknown physical environment without making sure they feel safe and secure - this also applies to getting them accustomed to wearing costumes and clothes.

  • Take the costume out of the package a few days before intended use. Leave the costume somewhere that smells like you so it can pick up a familiar scent.
  • Leave the costume in an accessible place for your dog. If they approach or interact with it, reward them with a treat.
  • Lay the costume on their back for short periods of time, treating and rewarding as you go.

Slow and steady is the key. Over the course of a few days, try dressing your dog in their costume only if their body language indicates that they are happy and comfortable. Here’s how to tell if they are.

Body Language

Body language is key to recognizing if your dog is truly comfortable in their costume. Sometimes we misinterpret our dogs’ facial expressions as signs that they’re smiling or having a great time, but they’re actually uncomfortable. Here are some signs that’ll indicate your dog is not having a good time.

  • Lowered head
  • Flat or pinned-back ears
  • Round or wide eyes
  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Flat whiskers
  • Heavy panting
  • Slinking and shaking

If your pup is displaying signs of distress, take the costume off and try again later when they’re in a better mood.

Costume Fit

How a costume fits on your dog is a huge factor in their comfort. It’s key that your dog’s costume does not obstruct their genitals and ears, or prevent them from being able to run, eat or drink, and use the toilet. When selecting a costume for your pup, consider these factors:

  • Fit. Not too tight, but not too loose. Your dog should be able to walk, sit, run, and potty without their movements being restricted. Their costume also shouldn’t drag on the ground.
  • Senses. Your dog’s costume should not impair their senses. Any costume that covers mouth, whiskers, eyes or ears is not a good match.
  • Scent. Dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, so it’s upsetting to them to be covered in something that smells unfamiliar, or like chemicals, or any other odor they’re not accustomed to.
  • Chewable. Dogs like to chew on things, so it’s important that their costume can be secured with Velcro, with no small parts like buttons for your dog to chew and swallow.

In addition to these simple tips, keep the festivities light and safe by using common sense. Don’t force your dog out of their comfort zone and overwhelm them with too much attention, activity or photos. Make sure your dog is safe and enjoying themselves and take the costume off if they’re distressed. Don't use heavy costumes in hot weather to avoid the risk of overheating. And most importantly, never leave your dog unattended.

Here are a few examples of good costumes for your pup:

 dogs wearing batman and superman costumes

dog wearing a cowboy costume

dogs wearing a santa hat and reindeer antlers

Also be sure to pick up some Purina® dog treats for your furry friends this Halloween!