Halloween is a night of mystery, mayhem… and maybe a bit of madness for your dog.
From ringing doorbells to crazy costumes, from candy to candles, Oct. 31 isn’t always the most fun for our furry friends!
Here are our tips to keep your dog safe on Halloween, along with a few suggestions of how to celebrate the occasion in dog friendly fashion.
Keep your dog safe at the door on Halloween
The doorbell ringing repeatedly, strangers in weird outfits and the door opening and closing can all add up to a challenging situation for your dog! Doorbells can trigger excitement or anxiety, as can those odd creatures that you find once you open the door.
Plus, all of the opening and closing of the door may create a chance for your dog to get out unintentionally.
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, practice desensitizing your dog to the sound of the doorbell. Work on sit-stay or down-stay so that your dog won’t rush to the door.
On Halloween night, give your dog a good walk before the trick or treating begins, so that he’s as relaxed as possible. Consider closing your dog in another room or in his crate.
Another option is for you to sit outside, so that you can hand out the candy without opening or closing the door.
Keep Halloween candy away from your dog
The candy and treats are one of the highlights of Halloween for us humans! But for our dogs, they can be one of the biggest hazards. Bowls of sweets on a table near the door may be an easy snack for a hungry or curious pooch and lead to serious and sometimes deadly problems.
Eating too much fatty or sugary food can cause pancreatitis, an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation for your dog. Chocolate and raisins (although if you’re handing out raisins, we might have to talk) can also be harmful to dogs. Some candy contains xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs even in small quantities.
Halloween is a reminder of why it’s important to work year round with our dogs on “leave it.” However, prevention is the best strategy when it comes to keeping your dog safe around all of that candy.
First, make sure your dog has his own dinner to decrease the chance that he will be hungry and looking for more food. Most important, keep candy out of your dog’s reach—and this goes for before, during and after Halloween.
If you think your dog may have eaten some candy, watch for signs of discomfort or indigestion. If you’re concerned, contact your vet right away.
See our post: How to make your dog throw up
Halloween costumes are scary to some dogs
Whether a costume is intended to be scary or not, it can be frightening for a dog. Dogs are accustomed to people looking, acting and moving in certain ways. If that changes, your dog may react with fear or uncertainty.
Also, some children may be particularly enthusiastic about getting into character and may roar or jump or exhibit other behaviour that can startle your dog. This is a situation where keeping your dog separate from the tricking and treating, whether in another room or a crate, can be helpful.
Halloween costumes for pets
On the topic of Halloween costumes that are made for our furry friends, make sure to consider your dog’s personality when choosing a costume.
Some dogs are used to wearing clothes, while others are not. Think about the elements of the costume. My dog Baxter will tolerate a coat, but isn’t a fan of hats. As well, make sure the outfit isn’t too tight or rigid, so that your dog can move easily.
Lindsay’s dog Remy tolerates costumes but he doesn’t enjoy them!
See our post: How to get your dog used to wearing a costume
Pet Halloween bandanas and collars
Dog friendly Halloween decorations
Jack o’ lanterns are synonymous with Halloween. And while pumpkins are dog friendly, the candles that light them are not. Even tucked inside a pumpkin, a candle can be a hazard if it is knocked over. And outside of a pumpkin, candles can be even more dangerous if they get bumped by your dog or knocked over by a wagging tail. Keep any candles high and out of the way of your dog.
When selecting your other decor, keep your dog in mind. Avoid small items that could be eaten and keep decorations out of your dog’s reach.
How to celebrate Halloween with your dog
While it’s important to keep your dog safe on Halloween, the holiday doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, there are some great ways to mark Halloween with your dog. Here are some ideas.
- Teach your dog a new trick – Training stimulates your dog’s brain and builds your bond. Pick a trick on Halloween and aim to master it by the end of the year.
- Add pumpkin into your dog’s meals – Pumpkin is good tasting and good for your dog. It can help with digestion. Cook your own pumpkin or buy canned. Just make sure to choose pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. A couple of spoonfuls mixed in with your dog’s regular food can be a special treat. See the post on pumpkin puree for dogs
Can I take my pet trick or treating?
Take your dog trick or treating – If your dog is outgoing and social, he may enjoy being part of the Halloween festivities. We don’t mean you should actually take your dog up to people’s doors expecting a special dog treat! But, trick or treating with your kids can be a fun addition to your dog’s usual walks.
Alternatively, some pet stores or businesses in your community may offer animal-only Halloween parties, complete with costumes and special treats.
As with any situation, you know your dog and know best what he needs to be happy and comfortable. When it comes to Halloween, make the choices that will keep your dog safe.
How does your dog react to Halloween?
What are you doing to celebrate Halloween with your dog?
Julia Preston writes for That Mutt about dog behavior and training, working dogs and life on her farm in Ontario, Canada. She has a sweet, laid-back boxer mix named Baxter. She is also a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating.
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- Keep dog calm around visitors
- Socialization tips for dogs and puppies
Get all of our dog training tips HERE.