Easy Halloween Dog Do’s and Don’ts

Justice isn't afraid of the Halloween decorations and he gets plenty of treats when he poses around them. © Melissa L. Kauffman
Last Updated on December 6, 2019 by

Halloween is a time of flashing lights, excited children, dropped candy and crazy noises. While some dogs love it, other dogs don’t. Run through this easy checklist the day of and after Halloween to keep the day fun and festive for you and your furry bestie.

If your dog doesn’t like Halloween

We’ve taken the extra step of putting a dog GPS tracker on Tampa Bay to make extra sure he doesn’t get lost during chaotic times like Halloween. © Melissa L. Kauffman
  1. Keep your dog away from the front door. Put him in a room or area where he is not privy to the many comings and goings from that part of the house. At the very least, put a gate in the hallway so he can’t get to the door. One Halloween, a large group of children arrived at the front door and one of our dogs somehow got through us and then through them and then led me on a slow chase through the neighborhood as he tried to get away from the noise. Now, not only is he safely barricaded behind a dog indoor fence but he has a dog GPS tracker on his collar. We’re prepared no matter what.
  2. Don’t let kids ring the doorbell and get the dog wound up. A ringing doorbell is sure to drive all dogs wild with excitement. We sit out on the porch to hand out candy, so ringing the door is never an issue. Not home for the night, make sure to put a big sign on the door — turning off all the lights is supposed to let people know you are not participating, but it pays to take that extra step.
  3. Mask the Halloween noise so your dog can’t hear it. We put on scary movies at a louder-than-usual volume. The dogs don’t seem to care if the people are screaming on TV. Playing soothing music works for some dogs too.
  4. Don’t scare your dog. Got a scary Halloween costume, then grab some treats and get your dog used to it. Perhaps put it on one piece at a time and show him, showering him with the treats. Some dogs don’t appreciate the scary transformation.
  5. Try using supplements, pills or other tools to help calm your dog. Today there are many holistic and pharmaceutical soothers for dogs that get anxiety, especially at Halloween or Fourth of July. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend one that works best for you and your dog. There are also calming vests, soothing music DVDs and puzzle todays — all to help soothe and distract your dog from spooky holidays. Try it before the big night to make sure it does help your dog. We’ve had to try a bunch of different tools to find ones that work for our dogs.

If your dog enjoys Halloween

If you take your dog with you for Halloween, put on good-fitting harnesses, no-more-than 6-foot leashes and bring treats, water and poop bags. © Melissa L. Kauffman
  1. Take your dog with you. For calm, sweet and social dogs, Halloween is a fun time to be with the family. Put him in a harness and use a 6-foot regular leash as they give you better control. Don’t use a long leash or a retractable leash as they can get tangled around all the trick or treaters. Keep careful watch as it seems to me that sometimes the kids drop as many candies as they pick up.
  2. Dress your dog as little or as much as he wants. Put him in a festive collar (if he doesn’t like to wear a costume) or an easy costume that doesn’t hamper his vision, hearing or ability to walk. You can buy one or even make a dog costume at home.
  3. Remind children of good dog manners. No matter how social your dog is, the chaos of Halloween night can be a little too much. Remind children to pet him gently and not run up and throw themselves on him. It’s a good time to remind children that candy is not good for dogs and can make them sick, so to keep all the yummy candy for themselves. Dog bites can happen when children and parents don’t know how to read a dog’s body language or are too busy to pick up on it.
  4. Be ready for your dog to be tired. Your children may be able to go all night, but it might be too much for your dog. If you can’t take your dog back to the house quickly, then bring along a dog stroller or a wagon. The wagon is great for tired kids, dogs or overflowing bags of candy.
  5. Bring water, some treats and poop bags.

Halloween before and afters for dog lovers

I take photos of the dogs before Halloween night when everything is calm and they can focus on me and the delicious treats I use to bribe them. © Melissa L. Kauffman
  1. Have treats on hands for your dog trick-or-treaters. We get almost as many dogs as kids for Halloween. We buy pumpkin biscuits and give them to the humans to give to their dogs. You can all make homemade dog treats to hand out. Why should kids have all the fun.
  2. Take pics of your dog before Halloween night. Looking for the perfect photo for your dog’s Instagram page? That perfect pic is easier to take when there are no distractions. We take pictures of our dogs in costume or around decorations before the event as much as possible.
  3. Pick up fallen candy so your dog doesn’t eat it. Our house is one of the places to be Halloween night because of our decorations. Unfortunately, that means a lot of dropped candy, which as we all know is bad and even toxic for dogs. The morning after Halloween, I bring a bag and pick up all the candy in our front yard, our neighbors’ yards and in the streets, before taking my dogs out for their morning walk. I also bring along a bag to pick up candy that’s on the ground as I walk the dogs. I have found as much as I wish someone else would clean up the dangerous stuff left outside for dogs to eat, no one does, and I rather my dogs be safe.

Through the years, I’ve had had different dogs with different reactions to Halloween. Pre-planning works best in all situations. This year, we took the dogs to a Halloween Weekend at a Jellystone campground. We took the same steps in the RV as the home: turned the music up, shut all windows and blinds, gated and locked the door. Get your game plan ready and let us know how it worked out for you and your pup. Have a wagalicious Halloween!

For more holidays tips reading:

• How to Keep Your Home Safe for Dogs During the Holiday
• Recipe: Witchy Finger Snacks
• 9 Things to Keep in Mind for Dog Halloween Costumes and Parades

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