Mark’s Barks Holiday Q&A: Halloween Edition!

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Folks from all over the country wrote in with questions about their dogs and Halloween. Our VP of Belly Scratches answered his favorite.


Q. Should I dress my dog up for Halloween? – I. Crane, Massachusetts
A. Okay, I have to fight every fiber of my being to not just say “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” because I think dogs in costume are basically the best. However, no less a source than the New York Times (blog) suggests that dogs don’t find it nearly as funny. If your dog immediately tries to escape from the costume, or freezes in place when it’s on, you probably don’t need an expert to tell you it’s not having a great time. Also a costume that restricts his movement or compromises sight or hearing is a real bad idea. On the other hand, the same blog post suggests that a dog may enjoy the added attention from its owner.

My suggestion: let your dog’s behavior be your guide. You’re likely in tune enough with his feelings that you can tell if a costume is akin to torture, and adjust your holiday mirth-making accordingly. Last year was our first Halloween with Chauncey, and we were eager to show him off at a dog Halloween benefit party we attended. Knowing that he was probably not going to love the raptor costume we put him in, we instead put him in a pumpkin shirt for almost the entire party, which he didn’t mind at all since it fits exactly like a lot of the clothes he wears in the winter. We put the raptor costume on just long enough to get the above picture, and for the costume contest judges to get a gander and decide to name him the winner. (Fun fact: we Vanderhoffs don’t mess around with this kind of thing.)

Q. What is Chauncey going to be this year? – Edgar P., Baltimore
A. We’re going to be in Seattle visiting our human nieces for Halloween this year, so I’m not sure he’ll be dressing up. If he does, it will probably just be for a photo op. Watch Rover Time’s Facebook feed to find out what happens! Maybe nothing! Who knows?! Life is uncertain!

Q. Okay, then assuming our dog totally loves dressing up and I am taking all necessary precautions, what costume should we choose? – The Birds, San Francisco
A. Sherlock Holmes. Especially if it’s a basset hound. What, you want more suggestions? Sigh, fine… I actually think those costumes that are just a little jockey or cowboy or knight on the dog’s back are pretty funny, and if your dog is big enough, hopefully he wouldn’t be annoyed by it. (Disclaimer: my dog weighs 8 pounds sopping wet. I have no idea if your big dog will be annoyed or not.)

Then there’s the category costumes your dog will almost certainly hate, but that we can at least enjoy in pictures. A dog as a pirate is pretty funny, but even better? A dog dressed up as TWO pirates carrying a treasure chest.

I have a soft spot for anything Star Wars-related (original trilogy only, please), so this AT-AT getup is pretty great, but not as great as this Bantha, complete with Tusken Raider. Or this tauntaun with Luke Skywalker. Also for the sci-fi fan: Fluffy from Harry Potter.

Lastly, this dog is a poop factory. I’m not above admitting that that’s pretty funny.

TO REITERATE: I cannot imagine your dog is going to enjoy any of those last few. So maybe just enjoy the pictures and give your dog a break? On the other hand, I don’t enjoy when Chauncey tries to stick his foot in my mouth while I’m driving, sooooooo…

Q. Why do you referring to dogs as “he”? – Todd, Fleet Street
A. Because I don’t like calling them “it” and my dog is a boy. I guess I could alternate between “he” and “she” each time, or only use “she” in my next article but… holy crap, I’m writing a blog post about costumes for dogs and having an argument about the proper canine personal pronoun WITH MYSELF. Let’s maybe just move on before I start wondering how it all came to this, shall we?

Q. Anything I should keep in mind regarding my dog’s safety this Halloween? – Fred K., Springwood, OH
A. SO MANY THINGS! Glad you asked! Obviously the extremely erudite, pet-saavy readers of Mark’s Barks know to be extra sure to keep chocolate away from their dog. But what about pumpkin (not toxic but can cause upset stomach), wires and cords for decorations (there is nothing “cute” about the word “electrocute”), and candles. Okay, those shouldn’t be a huge surprise. The ASPCA also recommends keeping your dog in a different room away from the front door during trick-or-treating. Since a single doorbell chime puts Chauncey into orbit, we just keep him inside and pull a real Doobie Brothers with our candy (by “Takin’ It To the Streets,” obviously).

Oh, and make sure your dog is wearing his tags, which is just good advice in general especially on the spookiest night of the year.

Q. This was basically just an excuse to post a bunch of cute pictures of dogs in costumes, wasn’t it? – Audrey, Skid Row
A. Shut up.



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