Halloween is a thrilling holiday for many, but it can be a frightening time of year for dogs. From lawn decorations, to doggo costumes, to creepy strangers knocking on our doors for candy… There are plenty of reasons for our dogs to worry, stress or feel unsafe. Below are some tips to help you and your dogs stay safe and equally enjoy this weird but fun holiday.
Tips for Your Dog
- Keep your candy stash out of reach from your dog. I keep mine on a high shelf behind a closed door in our pantry.
- If your dog appears spooked by a neighbor’s lawn decorations, believe her! When this has happened to me, I used high-value food (because I always keep this on me during walks) to coax her past the scary thing.
- Be sure to microchip your dog and update your information. If your dog spooks and gets away, you’ll have one more way of finding her.
- Let your dog “dress up” as herself this year! Or try a festive bandana. She can still be included in your Halloween photos with her cute factor intact. Because, duh, she’s a dog! And all photos are made better with dogs.
- If you really, really insist on dressing your dog up, take the time to acclimate him to the costume. Avoid reprimanding him if he tries to tear it off or doesn’t like it.
- For dogs who tolerate wearing a costume, take your Howloween photos in advance of any parties, get-togethers or trick-or-treating events. This way you avoid trigger-stacking your dog and you still have cute pics to post to your Instagram feed!
- Plan to leave your dog at home while you party it up at a friend’s house or go trick-or-treating. If possible, keep him confined to a space away from your front door, with something fun to play with – like a frozen treat or puzzle toy.
- If you’re hosting an event in your home, make arrangements ahead of time to board your dog elsewhere. This way you won’t have to keep an eye on your pup or your guests on a night that is bound to be filled with shenanigans.
- If you regularly take evening walks with your dog, plan to walk them earlier on Halloween. This way you avoid encountering any monsters on your walk.
- Remember that hats, masks, and face-paint can make familiar people look unfamiliar! It is perfectly normal for your dog to spook at their favorite person when she doesn’t recognize them.
Tips for You & Your Kiddos
- Avoid trying to engage a dog while you are in costume, so as not to inadvertently spook him!
- If you are are approached by an off leash dog while in costume, remain as calm and still as possible until the dog goes away. Attempting to run away or tell the dog off may trigger her.
- Be especially cautious if your children are in costume and encounter a dog. Children can be triggering to dogs, and even more so when they are dressed up like things out of this world!
- While trick-or-treating, avoid houses with a dog behind a screened door or window. A triggered dog can easily break through screens (some even through glass!).
- Give your dog the power of choice in all Halloween activities. If he doesn’t want to participate, then that’s okay!
- Avoid forcing your dog to greet people she doesn’t want to greet. Avoid punishing him for growling or barking at things that spook her. Instead, remove her from the trigger.
- Find ways to include your dog in the festivities that are also fun from his perspective! This year, I made frozen candy corn treats for my dog and dog friends. These were a huge hit!
- If you have a reactive or fearful dog, consider modifying the way you hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. I have made a habit of sitting in my driveway to anticipate the neighborhood kiddos. This alleviates the ongoing stress of doorbells and knocks on the door that trigger my reactive dog.
- If you are bummed your dogs can’t accompany you on your trick-or-treating adventures, bring a stuffed dog! When you come back with your Halloween loot, you can give the stuffed toy to your dog as a treat.
- Buy your dog some Halloween-themed toys! Last year my dog got a a scull stuffy and a squeaky broomstick from Target.
- Celebrate your love for your dogs by incorporating dog-themed decor. Personally, I love my skinny dogs, Bones & Howler, and all the fun conversation they stir up every year. I also have a cat that guards our wine cabinet from prying paws.
What ways will you include your dog in your Howloween festivities?