Did you “celebrate” “Dress Up your Pet Day” last week? I did…and I couldn’t help but ponder the wisdom of my actions as I saw my dog’s sweet little face “fall” and take on a look something like the faces of the dogs in those “dog shaming” pictures. Was he really miserable? What was he thinking?
When I placed a hat on his head, he immediately dropped his ears and lowered his face towards the ground. He acted as if he were doing something wrong. Was he afraid? I doubt it…. he knows he is safe with me. The mood was upbeat and I was smiling because he looked so darn cute… I was talking “sing-song happy talk” to him… Why would he look so devastated?
I decided to do some reading online about dressing up your dog. There are some pretty interesting theories…and that’s really all they are… because we don’t know what our pets are thinking.
Does this hat make me look weak?
Some believe the feeling of clothes or costumes on your dog’s body brings to mind for them an instinctive feeling of domination.* The heaviness of something on their body – much like a higher ranking dog standing above or against them – feels like they are being dominated, perhaps even punished. Have you ever put something on a dog and he kind-of “freezes” like he can’t move? The belief is that he does that because he is submitting to the feeling of being “restrained”, closely akin to the feeling of being dominated.
Can you hear me now?
Others believe we are obstructing a dog’s ability to communicate with other dogs when we cover their body with clothing. For a dog, communicating is all about body language. How can they communicate if their bodies are covered? That’s kind of interesting, isn’t it?
This is so embarrassing..
Dressing a dog in costumes and clothes is a real “bone of contention” (no pun intended) for some people. They believe we are taking away their doggie-dignity, in addition to the discomfort and physical restrictions clothes have on a dog. They contend that it’s just not natural and borders on abuse! Wow, I’m starting to feel guilty…
I’m so darn cute!
As always, there is a flip-side to the issue. Many believe that dogs love the attention that wearing a cute little costume provides… as well as the attention from us as we dress them up and oooh & aaah over them. That makes sense to me. This same article said that a dog’s life is rather “routine” and boring… so why not spice it up with a little game of dress-up? Is that as much fun as “fetch”? Maybe…
I wanna be just like YOU!
Oh…I love this theory… One writer believes that dogs try to mimic us and dressing up is just another one of those things we do that he wants to do too! That has to have some truth to it: they want to sleep in our bed, they want to go bye-bye with us in the car, they want to be all-in with everything we do, so why not dress like us?
Your dog’s personality
If you’re like most people, you have probably owned several dogs in the past with very different personalities. You may have had a very outgoing pup… full-bore…raring to go… up for any adventure. And you may have had a somewhat “introverted” pup.. cautious, questioning… leery of new experiences. If you were to dress-up your outgoing dog, she would probably think it was the best thing ever! Your introverted dog may have reacted more like my dog…lowering his head, dropping his ears, unsure of his role…
Dogs have their own personalities. One can be very outgoing and the other somewhat reserved. One is not better than the other… just different. We work with a variety of dog personalities on a regular basis at Holiday Barn. Some dogs, probably the kind that would not care for being dressed up, prefer the solitude of a quiet environment (this is a guest we would board in the suites). Another loves the excitement and commotion of lots of activity, and probably would enjoy a little game of “dress-up” (this is a guest who would be happier in a regular deluxe room where they can observe the hustle and bustle of others coming and going). Likewise, some dogs like to get rowdy and romp at Camp, and others are happy laying by the fence watching others play.
Should I or shouldn’t I?
Whether or not you should dress up your dog has more to do with your particular dog and his reaction to it. If he/she seems to enjoy it, then go for it! If he responds like my dog did… lowering this head and acting somewhat fearful, maybe you should just play fetch instead.