Tuesday, June 28, 2011

City Dog: How to Dress Your Dog for Parades

Watching the Oscars, I've always been amazed how the actresses seamlessly mange to get their dresses to stay in place. And when they do the big backstage reveal, we realize there was actually a lot of rehearsal and double-sided tape involved. So much like people have questioned how our pooches' costumes managed to stay in place, we're going to share the secrets of how the pooches pull off wearing costumes.
 I never thought I would dress up my 70 lb pitbulls, but somehow knowing that people are more likely to approach our dogs in costume, and have the opportunity to see the true nature of pit bulls, we have jumped on this bandwagon. Though we did have to work up to the costume part as parades can already be scary places with strange noises, crowds, and random drunk people, as we detailed in the post: How to Prepare Your Dog to Attend a Parade.

Preparing Your Dog to Wear a Costume:
Since we've had our pooches awhile, we had forgotten the steps we had taken to originally get our pooches to accept costumes. And we actually just had a great off-line conversation with a reader who just took her adorable pitbull, Michael, in costume to their local Pride Parade.
 She was very mindful of the perspective from this article in the New Yorker as she took the steps to make Michael comfortable in his costume.
 I was careful to introduce it over the course of the day. I put the bandana on first, which excited him because he knew we were going outside, then we left our apartment and went to a friend's place, where he got to socialize with his "friends" and people he already knew. After an hour or so, I let him sniff the dress (he immediately tried to mouth the fur trim), but I will not deny that he put up a bit of a struggle as I zipped the dress up. So, I rewarded him for tolerating me and letting me put the dress on him. Then we were off to face the crowds!
We also introduce the pooches to the costumes and have a mini-dress rehearsal at home to make sure they will be comfortable in their costumes before we head out.

Getting Your Costume to Stay in Place:
This is where the tricky part comes in. To make sure the pooches' hats and headbands stay in place, we sew an elastic strap that goes behind their ears and under their chins. We make sure that the elastic won't be too tight, and it keeps everything in place when we walk. Here is Miss M checking out the 'costume station' and deciding what she wants to wear:
We actually get Miss M's headbands and costumes in the little girl's department at Target. She has no problem wearing tutus, grass skirts, and angel wings. I think given all the positive reinforcement she receives through the extra attention, she actually forgets she is in costume:
Mr. B's head is big enough to wear real people's hats, and he borrows bow-ties from E. His turtle costume was from Target's Halloween dog section and it was designed to fit just like a dog coat and hat.
There is a lot that goes into wearing the costumes because we do want to make sure our pooches are comfortable and happy. What other experiences have people had with dogs and costumes?


Anonymous said...

they are out-of-control cute in those costumes. i still don't get how you can avoid gravity with the hats and headbands, but maybe i will do some experimenting to figure it out. love the shot of mr. b in his fedora. he is looking so serious.

Unknown said...

I love them in their costumes. They are so incredibly cute!

Kate said...

Headbands work really well for us too. I've tried to use elastic before, but I have a hard time getting that right - it's always too tight or too loose! My sewing skills are non-existent, haha. Mr. B reminds me of a a private investigator in his hat!

Tucker The Crestie said...

We love your costumes! And we love your blog ... a lot! So we'd like to give you the Versatile Blogger Award we just got.

Wyatt said...

You 2 wear it sooo well!!

Wyatt just wants to eat everything and is not happy unless it is his mouth. Stanzie acts like she has been beaten, tail between legs, ears down....we are lucky to get a photo or two..BOL

Patty said...

They look great! I have dressed Sophie up once as a bumble bee. She didn't really seem to mind.

Unknown said...

After our fosters were pretty much ignored (we usually pick large brown or black dogs) at local adoption events, we tried dressing them up in costumes. We were surprised at just how much attention the fosters received while in costume. However, none of them have worn them with as much style as your two :)

Kari in Alaska said...

our issue isn't the pups wanting to take the costumes off themselves, its wanting to take them off each other


brooke said...

I may have to start getting costumes for Darwin just because! :)

about the ferry. It's no problem getting dogs on the ferry if they are riding in your car (you can sit in your car the whole ride over with them) or if you walk on. If you get out of the car with your dog you can only be on the car deck area or up on the sun deck level but not in the enclosed seating area.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Paw is going to have to build you guys a closet soon for all those cool clothes and accessories
Benny & Lily

Felicity said...

I tried to photograph Anouk in a santa hat for Christmas last year. All I ended up with were a heap of photographs of a sad eyed Anouk laying on top of the santa hat... Maybe this year we'll begin practising with her wearing it now ;)

houndstooth said...

Usually, our dogs wear costumes for nursing home visits, so we try to make sure they fit well a couple of days before we go, and we practice walking around the house or yard some in them. It gives me a chance to see if there's going to be a problem of some kind with mobility or something not staying in place, and it gives them a chance to get used to it. I've also learned to make sure it's something we can transport easily and get on and off rather quickly. The last part is that we try to make sure it's something the dogs won't get to hot in. Especially in the nursing home where sometimes it's warm even for us because old people are always cold! lol

You should check out Donna's Bow Wow Bonnets. She makes hats for dogs, and her stuff is modeled on Greyhounds, but she has stuff for about any holiday or occasion you can imagine, and if she doesn't, she'll make it for you!

Anonymous said...

Luv the shot of Mr. B in E's straw gangsta hat :) And of Miss M snoozin in her angel wings. Something else :)

Yes, it takes lots of treats for me to don costume wear. Oh darn ;) If I ever get beyond my occasional doggy reactiveness perhaps I'll get to wear fun outfits at a parade. Until then, I have fun playing in Mom's closet ;P

Waggin at ya,

pibble said...

Right now, I'm having trouble keeping an e-collar on Oliver! I'll never get him to look as rakish as Mr. B in that straw hat. The girls must have been hunting him that day!

Jenny said...

We've been following your blog for a while! We would love to donate two costumes (many new designs for BIG dogs are coming soon!) for them to wear.

Please email info@poochieheaven.com if interested!

Two Grad Students and a Pittie said...

New cutest picture - Ms. M picking out what she wants to wear!


Mary said...

Miss M probably wanted to wear all the accessories! I never would have thought to just use kid headbands. Oh, to have a girl dog. So many choices.

The most I have put on Levi is a pair of reindeer antlers, but Jason barely allowed me that. I envisioned a Christmas card with the birds perched on the antlers on Levi's head, but they were really freaked out when I tried to desensitize them to the antlers. Levi doesn't really care, he just acts completely demoralized.

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