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Dog costumes – the do’s & don’ts

dog costumes

Dogs and costumes. Do they go together? Before you impulse purchase an array of adorable shark or bumble bee dog costumes, it’s always a good idea to pause and have a think about how your pet would really feel wearing it.

You may not even think about it, but studies show that dressing up your pooch in fancy costumes can be damaging to their wellbeing and/or physical state.    Of course, not all costumes will have this effect, but it’s important to understand more about the physiology and psychology of a dog and assess the costume design and restrictions so you can determine what may or may not be suitable. 

The most common item of clothing that people put on their dogs is a raincoat and although it is actually very handy (because no one wants to bring a wet dog into their house) you need to be conscious of how an item of clothing like this hugs you pooch. 

Also, does it cover their ears, restrict their movement or itch their skin?  These are important things to consider.

Covering their Ears

A dog’s sense of hearing is their second best sense (next to their sense of smell) and this is why we don’t want to cover their ears in any way. This is a very important sense for a pooch, it helps them create awareness of their surroundings and can determine how they act in social situations.


Another thing to consider is materials. Is it itchy? Does it have sharp accessories on it? Cotton is breathable but doesn’t dry as well. Put yourself in your dog’s shoes, would you be happy wearing it?  For dogs that tend to suffer from skin allergies or hot spots, then this needs to be a careful consideration.


Be aware of how active your dog is too. Does your pooch run around like a madman all day? If so, a costume might restrict their movement and upset their mood. Costumes with adjustable straps are preferable so you can find the perfect fit for your pooch.

Now your mind might start to skim through all the costumes you’ve put your pet in the past and you might start to wonder if any of those costumes affected your pooch.   The bottom line is, most of them probably were okay and didn’t harm your pet, especially for those that have little impact on their body like a little bow tie or bandana around the collar, but maybe the shark costume did cause some anxiety?

You know your dog better than anyone, but if they do have a tendency to get anxious then I would suggest that dressing them up in costumes could make this worse.   

However,  there are definitely some pooches who relish the opportunity and the fuss they get when donning on a costume, so if your dog seems comfortable and at ease with it and is not restricted in anyway from the usual dog functions, then there is likely to be no harm in a little fancy dress pic for your instagram or facebook page.

Photo Credit: Bosco Pug

About the Author: Peta O’Brien is a member of the Pooches at Play marketing team. Having just graduated in Marketing at RMIT, Peta is loving working in an industry that she’s passionate about! She has two Jack Russells and loves taking them on adventures with her.

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by Lara Shannon

THE Ultimate Guide for Every Dog Owner

*USA & UK Release In Late 2020