How to Make Dog Costumes

Small dog costumes can be a whole lot of fun, especially for that certain dog whose personality just seems to leap out at you. Pets like attention, which means a few pet dog costumes in your closet for your best friend are a must. You don't want your pet to be unduly stressed about having to trip over a teeny-tiny ballroom gown with each step she takes, but you do want to see how cute she is as she frolics about with a hot dog bun placed over her back.

Keep It Comfortable
Dog costumes should be easy and breezy both for you and your dog. Remember this line from How The Grinch Stole Christmas each time you begin to dress up your dog: "And he took his dog, Max, and he took some black thread, and he tied a big horn to the top of his head." That is exactly how it's done. Don't use thread, of course, as it won't be strong enough, but do remember how simple this should be.

A headband with felt horns attached will go the distance when you attempt to turn your pet into Max, the Grinch's dog, this Halloween. To make sure your dog costume does not go unnoticed, a small sleigh with the Grinch sitting in it on your dog's back would be cute. Attach the sleigh to your dog's body harness. Better yet, tie your very small dog to the front of your child's stroller. Decorate the stroller to look like a sleigh piled high with sacks of presents, with your toddler inside the stroller dressed like the Grinch. Or you could dress up as the Grinch, with the sleigh around your middle, using a dog leash as the reins.

Hot Dog Costume
Creating a hot dog costume is very easy. All you need is foam. Foam is lightweight, easy to cut into the shape you desire and comfortable in case your dog decides to take a nap in the middle of trick-or-treating. Foam comes in different thicknesses and in at least three colors: white, cream and green. After you cut the correct shape out of the foam, cover it with fabric or decorate it with markers.

To turn your dog into a hot dog, create two sides of the bun out of foam. Add a strip of yellow felt mustard down your dog's back.

Cover the bun with cream-colored fabric or use cream-colored foam. You can round the edges by pinching bits of the foam off with scissors. Attach the buns to each side of your dog's body harness so that it doesn't slip off to one side.

If you don't have a body harness, you'll need to do things a little differently. Lay the two sides of the bun on the table and connect them with a square piece of felt. Ideally the felt should be a color that blends in with the color of your dog's fur, as it will lay across the dogs back with one bun hanging down on either side. Create three ribbon loops: two for the dog's front legs, and one that will go around the dog's tail. Attach the bun by wrapping the loops around your dog's front legs as well as his tail, then tie it to keep it in place. Don't tie the ribbon too tightly.

You will need to measure your dog to make sure the costume is as close to a custom fit as possible. If you're using ribbon loops, it's best not to use elastic, unless the elastic is covered with fabric, as it can tangle and tug at the dog's fur.

To make condiments, create a wavy line of mustard and catsup out of felt. Attach the condiments to the harness or felt across the animal's back.

Clown Costume
To make a clown costume, use a thin piece of foam cut in a circle. Cut out a doughnut shape with the middle hole wide enough for the dog's head to fit through comfortably, but tight enough that it won't flop around too much or fall off. Decorate the circle in bright colors with markers or felt pieces. Sew on a couple of jingle bells and put a dog sweater on your dog. Decorate the sweater with big pom-pom buttons. The buttons can be attached to the sweater along the belly or along the dog's back.

Add a pointed hat to finish the look. Make sure the hat is not so big that it flops around. Attach double ribbons on each side of the hat, then make sure the ribbons pass on either side of the ears. Tie them beneath the chin. If your dog is into dressing up and cooperates, a small headband with the hat attached also works. 

Things to Remember

  • Never create a costume that is in some way detrimental to the pet.
  • Do not attach costumes or accessories around the dog's neck or create even a minute chance for choking to occur.
  • Do not make your pet wear a costume that is too large. The costume will drag, and your pet may be injured.
  • Do not make your pet wear a costume that is too small or that is uncomfortable.
  • Do not make your pet wear a costume that is heavy.
  • Take care when using elastic ribbon, as it may become tangled in your pet's fur and be very painful for your pet.
  • Only dye your pet's fur with products that are safe for dogs. Ask your dog groomer for suggestions. Kool Aid, beet juice and gelatin are good dyes that are nontoxic.
  • Do not use human hair spray or other cosmetics on your pet. Dogs, like people, can be extremely sensitive to certain chemicals, which will trigger allergic reactions.
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