Protect Your Dog From These 5 Halloween Staples That Spook—Or Worse

BARK teamed up with our friends at Fear Free Happy Homes to help you keep your hound’s Halloween happy, and full of alliteration. Reserve the spooks for the humans, your dog will thank you for it.

We love a good scare every once in a while, but dogs don’t enjoy Halloween traditions as enthusiastically as the rest of us.

Don’t worry, your best friend doesn’t have to completely ghost on the holiday! With a little more mindfulness, pups can still join in the mischief. Use these tips & tricks to keep your dog safe from monsters and fear-free on Halloween.

1. Costume Drama

Giant inflatable T-Rex people, chubby pumpkin babies, and every other cute ‘n’ creepy costume are unarguably one of the best parts of Halloween, but dressing up your dog doesn’t always go according to plan.

Fear-Free Tips

  • Get your dog’s costume well in advance so you can gradually get him accustomed to wearing it.
  • Try putting parts of the costume on (legs in leg holes, over the head, strapped under belly, etc.) with plenty of treats to reward each step.
  • Make sure it fits well. Costumes shouldn’t hinder movement or sight.
  • If your pup doesn’t like wearing anything, don’t force them. Instead, opt for a Halloween-themed collar or bandana!

2. Stranger Danger

Intentionally startling your dog by jumping out in full costume isn’t as fun for them as it might be for you. After all, they don’t know it’s you behind that werewolf mask.

Fear-Free Tips

  • When you and your friends or family start getting into costume, let your dog watch so he still knows you’re still under there. No one likes to discover “strangers” in their own home, even if it is Spiderman.

3. Trick-Or-Treaters

Imagine this: You, a dog, suddenly hear a barrage of knocks, ringing doorbells, and “trick-or-treats!” Outside the door is a rotating cast of strange people. It’s enough to stress anyone out, but you can help prepare your dog for all the action on the big night.

Fear-Free Tips

  • Set up a safe, quiet space in another room. Provide a bed (or crate, if your dog is comfortable with it), water, and a toy or two, and keep the lights low. It helps to turn on a fan or play some quiet music to soften all the trick-or-treat hubbub.
  • Before you leash up and head out to accompany all the ghosts and ghouls, stop and consider how all that stimulation will affect your dog. If they are generally uncomfortable on nighttime walks, around groups of people, or amid flashing lights or the inevitable screams and shouts, it’s best to leave them safe at home.
  • If your dog can handle the commotion, do some trial runs. See how he responds to people in costume and some of the flashy holiday decorations.

4. Spooky Decor

Things we love: Jack-o-lanterns on the porch, the neighbor’s gargantuan inflatable tarantula, the motion-detection corpse that reaches for you as you pass by.

Things dogs love: None of those, probably. Strange noises, sudden movements, and flickering flames just aren’t as great as tennis balls, but they’re everywhere on Halloween.

Fear-Free Tips

  • Don’t force your dog to approach any Halloween decorations they find off-putting (no matter how awesome you think they are.) But definitely let them see you check them out!
  • If your dog follows your lead and comes to investigate that harmless plastic skeleton, give him lots of treats.

5. Cautionary Candy Tales

We all know chocolate is a no-go for dogs. Consuming it and other candies could lead to a bellyache at the least, and vomiting, diarrhea, or an emergency room visit at worst.

Fear-Free Tips

  • Keep the candy bowl well out of reach, or confine your pup to a separate room until the end of the night.
  • Keep the (dog) treats flowing! Any good, calm behavior throughout the evening deserves a reward, and it’s even better than sugar.
  • When the kids return from their haunt, make sure they know not to sneak any (human) treats to the dog! Who would want to give up their hard-earned candy, anyway? (Except gumdrops, you can give those to your parents.)

Spooky shenanigans are always more fun when safety comes first. No worries, no stress! Set your dog up for success this All Hallows’ Eve, and don’t skimp on the treats. Happy haunting!

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Dr. Katy Nelson

3 years ago