Halloween Safety Tips for Dogs

October 6, 2012 | By More

What will get a rise out of your dog?

a)  people ringing the doorbell?

b)  children screaming around the neighborhood?

c)  strangers approaching you or your home?

d)  someone walking in an odd fashion or flailing arms?

e)  a person with a hat or a beard, or a mask?

f)   how about… all of the above?

Boo!  It’s Halloween again.  And when those trick or treaters begin knocking at the door, can you imagine what your dog must think about this?  This is not normal behavior by anybody’s standards, that’s why we designate a special night for such shenanigans.

Then there’s the random neighborhood mischievousness: lighting fireworks, smashing pumpkins, teepeeing treetops, etc.  I imagine for some dogs, this night would trump a thunderstorm on the 4th of July!

There are a few dogs that are actually ok with this, but I’d still recommend keeping them a comfortable distance from a possible growling werewolf at the door.  You don’t really know what you’ll find on the other side of the door yourself right?   Even if it’s a familiar friend, dogs may not recognize people in costumes.

If your dog is not stressed, and you’re able to let him come to the door for petting from these little ghosts and goblins…great!  You are one of the lucky ones.

For those of you whose dog may be more concerned about the strangers at the door, you can try keeping him behind a baby gate a comfortable distance from the door with somebody giving him yummy treats each time the door opens to a new group of scary visitors.  So as the kids are collecting their treats, Fido is also getting treats of his own just because kids appeared!   (It is also important that Fido is not barking or even aroused before you offer him treats, so make sure he is far enough away from the door so as not to feel threatened.)

You may have a dog that is not able to handle this night under any circumstances no matter what you try to do.  If this is the case, it’s best to keep him in a safe place away from all the distractions.  Find a cozy spot away from outdoor pranksters and trick or treaters.  Maybe a meaty bone or a stuffed kong while he is lying comfortably in his crate is a good option.  If you anticipate a lot of visitors this night, perhaps your vet can prescribe something to keep your dog calm throughout the evening.  Sometimes a little Rescue Remedy or valerian root from a health food store can be enough to help.  If you need further help, contact a positive reinforcement trainer in your area.

In all situations, be sensitive to your dog’s needs and consider these Halloween Safety Tips.   Feeling confused, frightened, and/or threatened is a horrible way to spend an evening.

Michelle Rizzi, CPDT, CAP2












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Category: All Posts, Behavior, Canine Health, Dog Training Tips

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