I know SO many people who spend more money on pet clothing than they do on their own. When Halloween rolls around…LOOK OUT! Some are cute. Others are downright embarassing. Animals can be so humanlike. Do you think dogs feel embarassment?
(Courtesy of Lana Berkowitz – Houston Chronicle)
Search “why dogs hate Halloween” online and you will find a million photos of dogs in goofy outfits.
Dogs are dressed as lobsters, Yoda and Elvis. They sport bikinis, rabbit ears and superhero costumes. Those who upload the photos, as well as those who comment on them, usually assume the animals are unhappy or embarrassed.
Which prompts the question: Do dogs feel humiliation?
Experts who work with animals disagree.
Sonya Fitzpatrick, of The Pet Psychic fame and host of Animal Intuition on Sirius XM, says they do.
“They feel everything. And they know when people laugh at them,” said Fitzpatrick, who lives in The Woodlands.
“I talk to thousands of animals, and even if people laugh at them if they have been cut too short, it really hurts their feelings,” she said. She has seven dogs and uses only bandannas for their accessories.
Pet psychic Patrice Ryan of Los Angeles says one doesn’t have to be a pet psychic to know some animals do not like to play dress-up. Just observe their body language.
A pet can tolerate a lot, but some animals don’t like the tightness, weight or texture of material, she said.
But if the dog feels humiliated, it is the human’s fault, Ryan said.
“The conflict lies where the owner might think it’s cute and adorable, and then they take the pet out in public. They (pets) know they are loved by their owner, and then the owner is allowing people to look at them and have a good laugh. It sends conflicting messages to the pet. So the pet is not really happy with that,” Ryan said.
Animal communicator and author Val Heart of San Antonio agrees that pets pick up on their humans’ cues.
Clearly some pets love wearing fancy clothes and others dislike it, Heart said. She said the last time she tried to put a costume on her dog, he promptly chewed apart the pumpkin outfit’s hat. However, her horse loved wearing a Santa hat one year, she said.
“A lot has to do with the proper training to wear clothes that they’ve received and the responses or rewards they get when they’re wearing it,” Heart said.
Tamar Geller, an animal behaviorist recommended by Oprah Winfrey, said dogs have a range of emotions much broader than just fear or joy. But she is not sure dogs get humiliated. She suggests a dog that appears unhappy in clothes probably feels more exposed than embarrassed.
“Dogs don’t like to stand out,” said the Los Angeles author of 30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog: The Loved Dog Method (Gallery Books, 404 pp., $25.99). That’s because of their wild heritage: Wolves singled out from the pack were more susceptible to attack.
“They have never been taught to associate being dressed up with pleasure,” she said. Geller sometimes uses a dress-up game to socialize puppies.
Bonnie V. Beaver, a professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, said unhappy animals are probably reacting to the costumes themselves or the limited mobility they have when dressed up.
“I doubt that they feel humiliation.”
“Obviously we can’t ask them, so we will never know for sure,” Beaver said. “It is always fun to think we know that they think/feel, but we will never really know for sure.”