On Halloween, dogs across American will swallow their pride and submit to being dressed up as jack-o'-lanterns, hot dogs, or conquistadors, says animal behavior expert Alexandra Horowitz in The New Yorker. But these are animals genetically programmed to sense when they are being put in their place — "to put raiments on a dog is to blithely ignore his essential dogness." Is it inherently cruel, as Horowitz suggests, to make your pooch wear a costume for the holiday?
Dogs hate being dressed up: Anyone who has a dog knows they "feel everything," says Sonya Fitzpatrick, host of "Animal Intuition" on Sirius XM, as quoted in the Houston Chronicle. Costumes can make them uncomfortable, or simply create needless anxiety. Any time dogs sense people laughing at them, it "really hurts their feelings."
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But some pets love the attention: As even Horowitz admits, our faithful friends can derive some benefits from "strapping on that squirrel get-up," says Jill Rosen at the Baltimore Sun. A costumed pup can be so "over-the-top cute," he's bound to get lavished with the human attention he craves. But you do have to be sensitive.
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If you must doll up your pet, observe some rules: If you're determined to try it, work in a few training sessions with your pet before Halloween, says Ted Sherman at Associated Content. Keep the costume simple and as comfortable as possible. Remember, this isn't natural for a dog, "no matter how docile," so don't keep your pet dressed up all night, and if it cries, "forget the Halloween plans" and put away the costume.
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