Did you know that most dogs hate people wearing hats? Experts claim that it has something to do with the changing silhouette. The simple act of wearing a hat can cause the calmest of dogs to bark, growl and attack people.
Now consider the effect that a full-blown costume, like a large stuffed animal, fairy wings or an oversized wig, has on a dog. It’s terrifying.
It’s important for all us at Halloween to recognize that it’s a frightening night for dogs. Not only are people dressed up, but if you live in kid friendly place, you probably have a lot of strangers knocking on your door. Or maybe you are hosting a costume party so all sorts of disfigured and oddly shaped strangers are roaming about your house.
Unless your dog is desensitized to strangers and costumes, we recommend having your dog relax in a back room that is secure and set up with water and food. Make sure people are not allowed to go in or out of that room. That way your dog will not be privy to all of the commotion.
Securing your dog in a back area also prevents your dog from accidentally consuming Halloween treats. Candy corn and hard candies can make dogs very ill while chocolate is life threatening.
If you don’t have a secure place in your home, then have your dog stay with a friend or at an overnight dog care facility.
Choosing the right dog costume
With safety out of the way, let’s get to the business of making our dogs look adorable (or scary) on Halloween. To our benefit, dogs do not grasp this idea of costumes and are more annoyed with the functionality then what it might look like. So feel free to choose a fairy, bumblebee or zombie and it will make no difference to your dog.
The same goes with the construction. Some dogs will gladly walk around in a cape, but will freak out if you try to stick their hind legs in pants.
Test out a few types of costumes to make sure you have one that is comfortable for your dog. Otherwise, your dog will spend the entire time trying to pull the costume off – and that’s no fun.
Halloween Dog Photos – Tips & Tricks
Be prepared. Dogs are especially impatient during photo shoots so don’t ask your dog to sit pretty until everything is set up. That includes taking a few practice shots to ensure the lighting and background is ready.
It takes two people to take a dog photo: a handler (someone to hold treats or a favorite toy) and the photographer. Make sure you have a game plan in place prior to bringing your dog on set. You don’t want to be arguing about how to get the dog to focus on the lens during the shoot or else your model (dog) will walk off set.
Be patient. Think of yourself as a wildlife photographer quietly and patiently hiding in the bush in an effort to capture the perfect shot of an elusive animal species. Dogs circle around, sniff, look in the opposite direction of where the handler is pointing, lie down randomly (with their butt towards the camera), yawn, scratch, jump, paw at the floor, bite at their costume, try to crawl away, etc. Your job is to stay focused and ready with the camera to capture the exact moment that they look into the lens.
Be ready for all sorts of reactions to the costumes. Here are some of the most common reactions that we’ve seen over the years:
- They freeze. They don’t like the movement of the fabric so they turn into a statue. It ends up being easy to take the perfect shot except that you’ll just get that one look (and typically not a happy one).
- They frantically try to take the costume off. It is extremely difficult to get a clean shot of a dog that is working feverishly to rip apart the costume. You might want to try another costume or make the action part of the gig.
- They refuse to sit down while wearing their costume. It’s not the worst. Just don’t ask them to sit, and you can get a few memorable shots.
- They are super jazzed about those treats. Dogs that love treats can either be really great about sitting and posing or they are so worked up over the food that they jump on the handler, lick the camera, or go through their repertoire of tricks on rapid fire. In short, they are a mess. When we get a dog like this, we change the camera setting to motion, click away and pray we get one decent shot that doesn’t look like a blur.
Lastly – Be sure to have fun! Whether your dog is frozen stiff or posing pretty, you’re going to have a good laugh.
First published by Los Angeles Dogs, a blog for LA dog lovers and beyond. twitter: @DogsofLA