Is Your Dog Ready for a Safe Halloween?

Halloween is one of those holidays that seem to set dogs off. With children trick or treating, ringing your door bell for candy, or simply yelling and laughing through the neighborhood, your dog is more likely to become agitated.

Keeping Rover safe isn’t only about keeping him comfortable, but keeping children safe. You have a responsibility as a dog owner.

If you plan to pass out candy and you have a dog that goes nuts whenever the doorbell rings, you could be in for a long night. Likewise, if you are planning to dress up or have a small party, the costumes could put an anxious dog over the edge. Preparing your dog ahead of time can save you a headache and a potential lawsuit.

  1. Start early. Don’t wait until October 30 to start preparing your dog for the holiday. Your dog should be calm around children and strangers long before then. This involves training and proper control throughout your dog’s life. The longer you’ve been working on it, the more likely you’ll have a positive outcome.
  2. Expose your friendly dog to new people and children. Again, this is something that needs to happen long before Halloween. Take your dog to dog parks, where there are strange dogs and people alike. Set up “doggy play dates” with other families—the more people, the better. When your dog becomes accustomed to new people on a regular basis, having someone come to your door becomes less of a cause for alarm.
  3. Work on “stay” and “quiet” commands. These two commands will be very handy if you expect to let your dog remain in the home as trick-or-treaters come to visit. Practice makes perfect, so enlist the help of a friend or a child to ring the doorbell while you work on your dog’s manners.

These tips are not the kind you can implement overnight. They require months of proper training and socialization. Dogs who are trained and will “stay” on command, remain calm among strangers, and respect their owner’s authority, are far less likely to be involved in a dog bite accident. They are also far more pleasant dogs to have around.

If you’ve tried and your dog just isn’t ready to be in the mix or wear his own costume, take other protective steps for both your pet’s and the children’s sake.

  • Consider putting your dog in a “safe” room for the night. If you can find a room in your home that will remain quiet throughout the Halloween festivities, set up a doggie lounge for your pet to relax. Give them their favorite toys, bed, and a few treats to keep them occupied. Eukanuba suggests using your dog’s crate if they are crate-trained. Turn on the television to drown out noise, and check on them often.
  • Pass out candy outdoors. If the weather’s nice enough, sit out on the front porch to greet trick-or-treaters.

Even the calmest, well-trained dogs can make mistakes. They can have “off” nights. Modifying your own behavior on Halloween will help make the night go more smoothly as well.

Do not yell at your dog for getting excited at the door. Yelling can scare your dog, making them even more defensive.

Do not leave your dog in the back yard alone on Halloween. Children (and some adults) like to play pranks on this holiday. Leaving your dog outside could open him/her up to practical jokes and taunting.

Do not leave candy out where your dog can get to it. Candy, especially chocolate, can prove fatal for dogs.

Halloween is a fun holiday for most people. Keeping your dog calm and secure will ensure that children have a memorable and safe night.