Should You Take Your Dog Trick-Or-Treating?
Halloween is upon us! And that means jack-o-lanterns, plenty of candy, and adorable doggy costumes. But, should your dog parade their spooky look alongside the family as you go trick-or-treating?
In this article, we’ll talk about whether your pup is ready for this fall activity, or if not, how to make sure they have a peaceful evening in.
Halloween gives some dogs the creeps
For many of us, the spooky season is all about embracing the creepy factor. We watch scary movies and decorate our homes with tombstones and spiderwebs.
But, the truth is, your dog might not be as wild about Halloween as you are. Here are a few reasons why this holiday can put your canine friend on edge:
- The crowds. Dogs who have been socialized to stay calm in large crowds may fare better on the night of terror. But many will feel overwhelmed and stressed.
- The costumes. Some costumes are scary enough to frighten full-grown adults, even though we know they’re not real! So imagine how scary they might be for your dog. Face-covering costumes can be especially off-putting for dogs given that our pups rely partly on facial expressions to gauge the emotions of humans.
- The decorations. Some decorations, like pumpkins and window decals, are probably not going to trigger any kind of response in your dog. But, the ones that move and make sounds can be pretty scary. After all, without knowing anything about Halloween, you might wonder why you’re seeing flashing lights and hearing recordings of screams and ghostly groans.
- The energy. There’s no denying that Halloween has a unique energy. The kiddos are running around with excitement and, let’s be honest, quite the sugar high. And adults are either loving the spooky vibes or a bit stressed about keeping an eye on their little goblins. All in all, it’s the kind of atmosphere that can put your dog on edge.
To be sure, there are many dogs that can take these potential triggers in stride. But for those who do get understandably freaked out by Halloween, what can you do to turn a frightening night into a fun one?
Prepare your pup for the big night
If your dog is generally good with large crowds and loud noises, they may enjoy going trick-or-treating with the family. Here are a few tips to prepare them for the eerie evening:
- Desensitize them to Halloween decorations. Walking your dog through the trick-or-treat neighborhood ahead of time—and during the day—can be a good way to familiarize them with Halloween decorations.
- Reinforce your “leave it” command. On the night of Halloween, there are all kinds of goodies on the street: fallen candy, candy wrappers, bits of decoration and who knows what else. Make sure to practice your dog’s “leave it” command, so that your dog doesn’t gobble up anything dangerous.
- Choose a doggy costume that makes Fido comfortable. If your dog isn’t used to wearing clothes, putting them in an elaborate outfit could make Halloween more stressful. If you don’t have time to desensitize your dog to their costume, opt for a festive bandana instead.
- Bring the dog essentials. Don’t forget to bring extra water, treats, and doggy bags.
- Take special care when driving through crowded areas. As you approach the trick-or-treat area, you might be driving through unfamiliar neighborhoods filled with excited people. Keep your dog safely in the car by rolling up the windows or installing BreezeGuard Screens.
- Have your dog on a leash at all times. Even if your dog has amazing recall, we’ve already mentioned a few reasons why they may be more stimulated and anxious on Halloween. What’s more, the neighborhoods where you’ll be trick-or-treating will likely have leash laws. So leash up! You might even find a way to incorporate the leash into their costume (e.g. if they’re dressed as a pumpkin, the leash can be a vine!)
- Be your dog’s best advocate. It makes sense that everyone will want to fawn over your dog on Halloween. Who can resist a doggo in a costume? But too much attention is stressful. You can help your dog by asking people to approach slowly and calmly. If you see your dog getting stressed, it’s okay to kindly tell people not to approach.
- Keep an eye on your pup. Check in with your dog throughout the evening to make sure they’re still in good spirits. A dog who is overwhelmed or tired may lag behind or show unwanted behaviors like leash biting, whining or barking. If this starts to happen, have a plan to take them back home where they’ll be safe for the rest of the night.
Leaving your dog at home?
If your pup will be staying in on Halloween, they may still be bothered by the ruckus outside. You can keep them calm by:
- Making it clear that you’re not home for trick-or-treaters. Turning off your outdoor lights or putting up a sign that you’re not participating in Halloween can prevent well-meaning trick-or-treaters from knocking on your door.
- Closing the blinds. Your dog may love to sit and watch the world outside. But they might not have such a good experience when the neighborhood is suddenly filled with zombies and ghosts. Close the blinds to give your dog a more soothing night in.
- Leaving your dog with something to do. Giving your dog a slow-release feeder or a new chew toy can ease their anxiety and pull their focus away from the crowds outside.
- Putting on white noise, television, or soothing music. Your pup might feel more at ease with sounds that they’re already familiar with, such as your favorite tv show or radio station.
How will you prepare your pup for Halloween this year?
Is your doggo ready to join the trick-or-treating party this year? Or, are you looking forward to treating them to a spook-free evening at home? Either way, your doggo will appreciate your thoughtfulness. And, they probably wouldn’t say no to a Halloween-inspired dog treat!