Top Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe at Halloween
Updated on September 3rd, 2019
How can you keep your dog safe at Halloween? Follow these tips for a safe and happy Halloween with your dog.
I always get a teeny bit nervous on the 31st October.
No, it’s not because of all the scary costumes and decorations – it’s because I know that my dogs are not going to have a settled evening.
When you have nervous or reactive dogs, the festivities of Halloween can be a little overwhelming.
There’s the exciting new sights and smells of decorations in the neighbourhood, and abundance of chocolate and candy, kids in fancy dress costumes running all over the place and a general feel in the air that’s a little different to what your dog is used to.
All of this can combine into a bit of a scary experience for your dog.
However, there are ways that you can minimise the effect on your dog so that you can all spend Halloween in a happy, comfortable manner.
Halloween doesn’t have to be a day for dog owners to dread. Simple follow these top tips to keep your dog safe at Halloween. You’ll wonder why you didn’t think of them sooner!
How to keep your dog safe this Halloween
Follow these easy dog owner tips to keep your dogs safe this Halloween holiday season.
1) Walk them early before trick-or-treating starts
It can be scary for your dog seeing people in their fancy-dress costumes, particularly if they are wearing marks or carrying large objects such as plastic grim reaper scythes.
Try to walk them before the children start trick-or-treating to avoid any stress for your dog.
If your pet is reactive to other dogs, then be aware that walking at this time may mean that you see lots of other owners out with their pets if they have the same thought as you.
It might be better to walk your dog in the morning and stick to brain training in the afternoon/evening (see Tip 4 for more information).
2) Keep Halloween candy out of reach
Halloween candy is super tasty for us but can give our pooches an upset stomach.
Chocolate can be poisonous to dogs, as can Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener used in sugar-free chewing gum and other sweets.
To prevent your dog from eating something he shouldn’t, be sure to keep all Halloween candy out of reach.
3) Keep pumpkins and decorations out of reach
Similarly, you need to ensure that all pumpkins and decorations cannot be accidentally ingested by your dog.
Dogs can eat pumpkin, but only the fleshy inside (and preferably when cooked) – NOT the outer shells. Eating the outside of pumpkins can make your dog sick, so keep them out of reach.
If your dog is prone to chewing things he shouldn’t, make sure you keep all decorations out of their reach as well.
Plastic decorations can be dangerous if your dog chews them and ingests plastic pieces. Not to mention any candles that you may have put inside jack-o-lanterns on your porch.
4) Play brain games to tire your dog out
My dogs usually wake up in the evenings and get really active and boisterous.
Halloween is an exciting day with lots of ‘out of the ordinary’ smells, noises and activities, so your dog may be extra-prone to over-excitement.
Try to calm them down by playing some brain training games to focus their attention and tire them out.
10 minutes of a focused sniffing game can tire out a dog as much as a 30-minute walk!
Keeping your dog’s attention focused in a positive way will help to distract them from any loud noises that may be happening outside.
It also makes them more likely to have a nice deep sleep as the evening wears on!
5) Don’t force your dog to wear a costume
Some dogs will happily wear all sorts of silly costumes for hours on end, but others will not enjoy it at all.
Don’t force a Halloween costume on your dog if they don’t like wearing it.
They will become stressed and agitated, and that’s definitely not how you want them to spend their Halloween.
If you are planning on putting a Halloween costume on your dog, try introducing them to it slowly a couple of weeks before the 31st October. Gradually desensitise them to it and get them used to the costume being around them before starting to try it on.
6) Create a safe space for your dog
My shih tzu Freddie immediately goes and hides underneath the sofa whenever he hears fireworks.
There is a big gap underneath it and the sofa cover reach the floor, so he can squeeze under there and be completely hidden which helps him to feel safe.
If your dog likes to hide when he is scared, try to create them a safe space to go to if they feel overwhelmed.
This might be their create if they are crate trained, or maybe a corner of your living room where you place some blankets, toys and perhaps a bed or some pillows to make it as inviting as possible.
Of course, your dog might prefer to stick near you when frightened, so be prepared for some serious cuddle time too!
7) Keep your dog away from the front door
Halloween is one of the top nights of the year for dogs going missing.
You’ll probably be opening the front door several times throughout the trick-or-treating times, and leaving it open for several minutes each time.
This is more than enough opportunity for your dog to run past you and get out on to the street.
To prevent this, shut your dog in a different room so that they cannot get out the front door when it’s open.
As an extra precaution, make sure they are wearing a collar with a tag on it that has your phone number and address so that if they do manage to get out, whoever finds them knows where to bring them back home.
8) Discourage trick-or-treaters from visiting your house
Some dogs just don’t like strangers visiting at all. I’m kind of with them on that – I’d happily not have strangers knock on my front door like, EVER!
My dogs are door-reactive and will bark like crazy whenever someone rings the bell or knocks.
Because of this, we tend to keep the porch and kitchen lights off on Halloween, which are the two rooms at the front of the house. We don’t decorate the outside of the house and don’t put a pumpkin out.
If you’ve got your lights off and no outside decorations, this is a good sign to trick-or-treaters that you do not want to be disturbed. Most should take the hint and miss out your house from their travels.
9) Play background music or keep the television on
Part of my dogs’ reactivity at the front door is to bark whenever they hear noises outside (yes, our neighbours REALLY love us!)
We have tried so many things to help the dogs to overcome this behaviour but haven’t found anything that really works yet.
It does help when my husband and I are both at home as they don’t get excited at every noise thinking it’s one of us returning.
For that reason, we both stay at home on Halloween.
To further help the dogs to stay quiet, we play music in the kitchen which is the room at the front of the house, to help mask the noises happening outside.
Our living room is at the back of the house, so we all settle down in there and watch a movie with the sound turned up a little bit louder than usual.
How about watching a Halloween dog movie to really get in to the spooky spirit of the occasion?
10) Provide reassurance & love
Ultimately, one of the best things you can do to make your dog feel safe at Halloween is to provide reassurance to them in whatever form they need.
This might be letting them lie on your lap on the sofa for a cuddle all evening, or simply just letting them hide in their safe place undisturbed.
You know your dog best, so let the sit out the night in whatever way makes them feel happiest.
You could even watch one of 2019’s top dog films to help pass the time.
Just remember, it’s only one night of the year, so tomorrow they will be back to their normal happy selves!