Halloween is a fun time of year but it can be a scary, dangerous, and very stressful holiday for the family dog. Make the holiday safer and less stressful for everyone involved by preparing your dog for Halloween. Implement some common sense and safety tips on All Hallow’s Eve and the days and nights before and after.
Evaluate your dog’s personality and temperament and decide if the commotion of Halloween hobgoblins will be too overwhelming and confusing for your pet. Do not feel guilty if you choose to exclude your dog from the holiday festivities. The excitement, chaos, and stress of the doorbell ringing nonstop and the endless parade of odd-looking little creatures can be enough to make an ordinarily good-natured dog nervous and irritable. Naturally protective breeds may mistake jovial trick-or-treaters for genuine threats.
Do not leave your dog unattended outside even if he is contained inside a fenced yard. Eggs, candy, and other items may be thrown at him and could cause physical harm or be consumed. Be sure your dog does not have unsupervised access to visitors and vice versa, as mischievous youths may leave fence gates ajar or approach fenced areas.
Prepare a comfortable, secure place for your dog to hang out on Halloween. Most dogs will be content to “miss out” on the festivities and will be happier in the quiet comfort of their home. If your dog is not crate trained, consider keeping him secure in a separate room during peak trick-or-treat hours. With Fido tucked securely away in another part of the house, give him something tasty to chew. Just because he is secluded from the festivities does not mean he cannot enjoy himself. Munching on a special treat will keep him occupied and help reduce his stress.
If you insist on taking your dog trick-or-treating, do it only during daylight hours and be sure your dog has previously been socialized around screaming children. Put an adult in charge of supervising the dog at all times and be sure they are alert for signs of stress or aggression. Keep your dog on a leash and never ring a doorbell with your dog at your side. The resident dog and owners may not appreciate this. Wait on the street or at the bottom of the driveway with your dog as the children ring the bell.
Do not allow your dog to greet anyone that he appears frightened by and do not force attention from anyone who seems afraid of your dog. Usually, good-natured dogs may be leery of children in costumes, so it is a good idea to stop children from hugging or being too forward with your dog while dressed in strange attire.
Some dogs will tolerate wearing a costume, but most find it confusing, uncomfortable and stressful. If you cannot resist the temptation to dress up your dog be sure the get-up does not constrict their movement, vision, hearing, breathing, and barking. If Halloween is a warm day, dressing up your dog may be uncomfortably hot so take this into consideration.
Monitor what your dog eats on Halloween and do not let anyone feed your dog “treats.” Chocolate is toxic to dogs if enough of it is consumed and Xylitol is a sweetener used in candy that is also hazardous to Fido’s health. Other tempting consumable items that can be dangerous are candles, Halloween makeup, candy wrappers, decorations, and small costume accessories.
Being prepared ahead of time for potential doggy hazards that can occur on Halloween will reduce stress for both you and your friend. Remember that loud mobs of costumed children can be genuinely frightening and traumatic to some dogs. Be aware of your dog’s safety and be sensitive to his stress level so everyone can enjoy a Happy Halloween!