Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Many enjoy this time of year and the upcoming Halloween holiday and all its fun and celebrations. However not all of our furry canine friends enjoy it as much as the kids and many adults do.
Halloween can be a very scary, and at times, dangerous, time for many dogs as they are exposed to and see things that they very rarely see or experience any other time of the year.
Large groups of people and kids, increased running around, loud noises and voices from children out trick or treating, and multiple knocks on the door or doorbell ringing. In addition, children and adults with very unusual and many times scary costumes that hide people's faces and or have moving and flowing items that dogs are not used to seeing. You may see a cute kid as Dracula but to your dog it’s more like Freddie Krueger!
Of course, there is also all the holiday decorations and candy along with the wrappers can cause some dangerous situations for our dogs as well.
Here are some tips to help our dogs stay safe and comfortable during the Halloween season.
1. Keep dogs either crated or confined to a room when trick or treaters come to the door. Not all dogs are comfortable with people coming to the door – add in people dressed up in weird costumes, sometimes covering their face – and this can create a situation where your dog either over reacts or tries to bolt out the door. Crating them or keeping them safe in another room will help prevent any unwanted incidents.
2. Drown out loud noises. If you live in a neighborhood where there are lot of children out enjoying Halloween gathering candy, it can get very loud and voices very high pitched. Some dogs are not comfortable with this and higher levels of anxiety and/or fear can occur. Keeping the TV or music on to help drown out the noise can help reduce or eliminate anxiety in your dog.
3. Leave dogs at home during large celebration gatherings. You may want to include your dog in the “fun” celebrations of public trick or treating events, but many dogs do not view these events as fun. Unless your dog has been exposed to large crowds, loud noises and weird environments regularly and has exhibited happy and unwavering behavior in these situations, it is best to leave your dog at home.
Dogs who have not slowly been exposed to and built up confidence in these types of settings can very quickly become very fearful and exhibit behaviors resulting from anxiety and fright. Imagine what your dog may feel walking up to a hanging skeletons and pumpkins with weird lit up faces!
4. Supervise around decorations. Shiny decorations can be very attractive to some dogs. Some dogs like to chew on them and some like to eat them. Either way, decorations can be dangerous if ingested, sometimes causing blockages or internal damage. Some decorations contain dangerous toxins in the paint or glitter that is used to make them, so it is always best to supervise your dog when in the same room or area with decorations.
5. Keep all candy put away. Halloween is the time for goodies – candies, cookies, caramel apples and other delicious desserts! Many of these contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs and many are inside of wrappers which, if ingested, can cause internal issues and/or blockages.
Please keep all candy and food in sealed containers or the cupboards. Just because your dog has never counter surfed in the past, doesn’t mean that plate of chocolate Halloween cupcakes or bowl of funny but interesting smelling candy won’t entice them to check it out.
6. Let them dress up “au natural”. We all think it’s adorable when we see dogs dressed up for Halloween. And let’s face it, some dogs don’t mind. But, make sure your dog is one that is comfortable wearing the hot dog or bumblebee costume that may be itchy, have weird things sticking out, partially block their vision or cause them to walk differently.
Also, as mentioned above, also make sure your dog is very comfortable in large and loud crowded places AND while wearing some weird costume they are only exposed to once every 365 days.
We all want to enjoy and have fun on Halloween and the days leading up to it. Let’s make sure we are being advocates for our dogs during this holiday as well.
Think about whether they are mentally and emotionally ready for the things you want to do with them on Halloween. Chances are, if you haven’t spent a good amount of time exposing and training them in similar types of environments throughout the year, it’s best to leave him/her at home.
Make this a goal for next year and set up a training plan to slowly expose them and build their confidence up. Your dog will thank you!
I hope you and your dog have a safe and Happy Halloween!