Will Fluffy or Benji be dressed up for Halloween this year? Pets are increasingly recognized as family members and often included in the holiday costume craze. But are pet costumes just for human folly, or do pets actually LIKE sporting the costumes, hats, and accessories?
Admittedly, I fall among those that do indulge in this practice, but my pets enjoy wearing Halloween costumes. Years of positive reinforcement with treat rewards, my dogs will happily wear anything on the off chance of a tasty morsel. The mere sight of a costume starts my Labrador prancing and bouncing as if on a trampoline.
In my home, Halloween pet fun has evolved a step further than most, as I proudly maintain a sizeable collection of pet costumes. After 13 years, the collection of doggie costumes includes firemen, doctors, princesses, cowboys, police officers, pumpkins, caterpillars, pirates, and skeletons spilling from the overstuffed confines of the cabinet. My pet costume collection is akin to Katherin Heigl’s character in the movie “27 Dresses”, in which her mass of bridesmaid dresses fills a closet and generates smirks from others.
Call me crazy- but I adore seeing my critters ham it up for Halloween. And clearly, I am not alone. According to consumer surveys by the National Retail Federation, 170 million Americans will be celebrating Halloween. Among those individuals, 15.1% will be dressing the family pet in costume too. That’s a lot of consumer spending on pet wear when budgets are tight, but the smiles and giggles arising from seeing your pet dressed in a spooky or silly costume is well worth the expenditure.
Some might argue that pet costumes are frivolous or humiliating, but I disagree. Dogs enjoy costumes when introduced in a positive manner, just as they do with gradual acclimation to car travel or swimming. Plus- a dog is a devoted companion and wishes to please its owner. My own dog family adores the celebration and attention they receive. Cats, on the other hand, may not enjoy any part of dress up and are often indifferent to the idea of pleasing or serving us, as it is often the other way around.
And what is the well-dressed pet wearing this year? The National Retail Federation lists the top pet costumes in 2012, the all-time favorite of a pumpkin ( 12.7%), followed by other popular choices of the devil (6.9%) and hot dog (5.7%).
Top Pet Costumes (2012-National Retail Federation)
3. Hot dog
6. (Tie between) Dog and ghost
7. Action hero/superhero
9. Bow tie/fancy collar/bandanna
Halloween may not be for every person and is clearly not for every pet. The added stress of trick-or-treaters, ringing doorbells, and spooky costumes may create an unwilling pet participant for any such Halloween wear. Know your pet’s personality and avoid dress-up if he is anxious, fearful, or attempts to chew at his doggie duds.
All tails will be wagging at my house on Halloween as my costumed canine kids anxiously await the arrival of the first ghost or goblin. Oh, and of course, they will be expecting doggie cookies too!