3 Halloween Tricks to Teach Your Dog

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on October 28th, 2021
photo by Alicja Zmysowska

Your dog may not be able to enjoy a plastic pumpkin full of candy, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get into the spooky spirit this Halloween! Teach these fun Hallow’s Eve-inspired tricks between visits from trick-or-treaters or while you’re watching a scary monster movie marathon. Either way, an exciting training session is sure to get your dog into the holiday spirit!

Trick #1: Pose with a jack-o-lantern
Your dog probably didn’t take part in carving jack-o-lanterns, but that won’t stop them from posing proudly with your finished pumpkins! This simple trick will teach your dog to sit next to a jack-o-lantern with one paw on top so that you can take adorable Halloween pictures.

If your dog already knows how to “sit” and “shake,” then this will be a simple progression. Place the pumpkin directly between yourself and your dog so that when they shake, their paw goes over the pumpkin. Gradually, you can lower your hand so that it’s resting on the top of the pumpkin. 

At this point, you’re ready to replace your “shake” command word with something like “pose” or “touch” and pull your hand away so that their paw rests on the pumpkin. Before long, they’ll understand that resting their paw on top of the pumpkin will result in a treat! And, you can work on having them hold their pose as you get your camera ready.

Make sure you catch our recent article on taking great autumn pet pictures so you can capture this adorable Halloween memory!

Trick #2: Turn into a werewolf!
Teach your dog how to channel their inner werewolf by howling on command! But be warned, if your dog performs their trick on a full moon, you might hear a real werewolf answer back!

To learn this trick, you’ll first need to find your dog’s howl trigger. For some puppers, you might be able to pull up a video of a fire engine siren, other dog’s howling, or your favorite yodeling folk song. Or, your dog might react to you throwing your own head back and letting out a werewolf howl! 

Once your dog has started howling, you’ll introduce the command, “howl” or “werewolf,” and give your dog a treat. It’s best to teach this command for short periods so that your doggo doesn’t get too overstimulated—and to avoid bothering the neighbors! To end the session, redirect your dog to do something else that will encourage quiet behavior like working on a puzzle toy. 

Pro tip: once your dog has learned this command, it will be easier to teach them how to be quiet on command as well!

After just a few sessions, your pup will be ready to summon all the werewolves on the night of Halloween!

Trick #3: Wave to the trick-or-treaters
If you live in a neighborhood that fills with adorable trick-or-treaters, you might be wondering how to include your dog in giving out candy (without getting any slobber on the M&Ms!) By teaching your dog to wave at groups of mini ghosts, witches, and robots, you’ll be the most memorable house on the block.

Like posing with a jack-o-lantern, teaching your dog to wave is an easy trick for dogs who know how to “shake” or “give you a paw.” With this foundation, your dog will already know to offer their paw to your outstretched hand, but instead of catching it, you’ll pull your hand back quickly and give them a treat for the effort. Over several of these exercises, your dog will start to understand that they are being rewarded for the motion of waving their paw towards your hand. You can then work towards encouraging them to wave higher by holding your hand higher.

As the behavior starts to look more like a wave, you can introduce your desired command, such as “say hi!” or “wave hello!” After a few sessions, you can try phasing out your hand as a target and encourage your dog to wave on your verbal command. The trick-or-treaters will be delighted!

Benefits of training your dog Halloween tricks
Training your dog Halloween-inspired tricks is just plain fun. But there are some additional benefits, as well.

For one thing, Halloween can be a bit overwhelming to some dogs. For one thing, they might not be used to seeing so many people walking around outside or approaching the house. Plus, costumes and masks and the general excitement of it all can be downright spooky. 

With this in mind, giving your dog something fun to focus on can help them stay calm and content—and out of the candy bowl! Tricks also give your dog an appropriate way to interact with incoming trick-or-treaters, which can be especially helpful for dogs who are prone to jumping up on strangers or getting overly excited.

Remember to give your dog the opportunity to disengage or take breaks from the Halloween festivities if this isn’t their favorite holiday. In fact, if your neighborhood tends to be particularly busy, you might plan a Hallow’s Eve outing to a less crowded area where your dog will feel more at ease. If you have BreezeGuard Screens installed in your car, your pupper will be able to see, hear, and smell the Halloween action on their way to their favorite dog park while staying safe in the backseat.

What Halloween tricks will you teach your dog?
With some dedicated training time and a little creativity, your dog will be ready for a fun-filled Halloween! So, break out the doggy costumes, put on a spooky soundtrack and start practicing! For even more ideas on how to get your dog in the spooky spirit, check out our article, 5 Halloween Activities for You and Your Dog

And have a ter-ruff-fying Halloween!

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