We all know how it starts. You’re strolling through the Pet aisle at your local store, thinking it’s probably time to pick up some puppy dental chews, letting your eyes casually wander around the shelves, when… HOLY COW THAT IS THE CUTEST THING EVER EVER!
Yes, that’s right. Your gaze has landed on the costume section and, front and center, is a photo of a squishy little pug dressed as a bumble bee. His plump torso is wrapped in bright yellow stripes; his bug eyes are framed by haphazardly dangling antennae; his facial expression is somehow both smug and bashful at the same time. Before you know it, your heart has melted and you’re just a puddle of tastefully-accessorized goo on the aisle floor.
Once you regain your composure, you start shoving doggie costumes in your cart. Dinosaur? Sure. Yoda? Hilarious. Snooki from Jersey Shore? Well…it is on sale.
You rush home, excited squeeze your pup into that leopard-print tube top and take a bunch of cute photos for Facebook, but he seems to have other plans. In a matter of seconds the costume is off, ripped to shreds, and scattered around every imaginable corner of your home. There go your plans for Snooki/JWoww group costume.
Luckily, you still have your other purchases as back-up. How do you make sure they actually stay on and provide you with hours of awwwing and successful pet selfies? Read on to find out!
Step 1. Identify where your dog likes and doesn’t like to be touched. Is he cool with top-of-the-head scratches? Good. Then a head accessory, like a crown or a set of antennae, might be an option for you. Is he constantly fidgeting and pawing at his collar? If so, best to stay away from costumes, like lion’s manes, that further constrict that area. Be realistic about your dog’s lifestyle, typical range of motion, and bodily preferences, and select a costume that you feel best matches those factors.
Step 2. Don’t expect to wait until the 31st to unwrap that packaging for the first time. Your dog needs time to acclimate to the get-up, especially if he doesn’t normally wear clothes. Start getting him used to the costume at least two full weeks before Halloween. Let him take a good long sniff of it. Maybe even a supervised lick.
Step 3. Start slow! Don’t strap him into the costume right away. Allow him to lay on it and even to paw at it. Then, either put on a relatively small portion of the outfit or lay the whole costume loosely across his back. Reward him with a treat as you do so.
Step 4. Have more treats on hand as you get ready to strap him into the costume. Give him a treat before you start in order to put him at ease. Keep the treats flowing freely as you begin to put the costume on. The treats serve a twofold purpose: distracting your dog during those first few confusing moments, and creating positive associations related to the costume.
Step 5: Let your dog stay in the costume for a little while, rewarding him lavishly with praise throughout. When he starts to seem uncomfortable, take the costume off. Keep repeating this process every day, gradually increasing the time your dog spends dressed up.
Step 6: Hopefully, by this point your pooch actually enjoys channeling his Halloween alter-ego. Time to dress him up, sweep all the regional canine costume competitions, and send all the ridiculously adorable photos to us, your friends at Crowdtap! Who knows, maybe Cesar® is looking for a new mascot. We would totally put in a good word for you guys if it came up.
We weren’t kidding about wanting to see those adorable pictures! If you’ve been following our Paws & Reflect series, you know we’re suckers for cute dogs. Head over to the Crowtap crowd now to access a photo mission based on this tutorial. As always, the best topical submissions will be featured in this week’s Thumbs Up Thursday, allowing us all to gush over the awesomeness together.