Dogs Trust

Top tips for keeping your dog safe at Halloween

Ted from Dogs Trust Snetterton with pumpkins

Halloween can be a fun and spooky event for the whole family, but for your dog it might be a stressful and dangerous time.

Your dog may be exposed to many unfamiliar sights and sounds, especially with so many scary costumes about. With events like Halloween, it’s important to consider the effect of 'situation stacking.'

Situation stacking

This is where often short-lived and separate situations that a dog experiences – whether fun and exciting or worrying and stressful – happen in succession so that all the feelings of excitement or worry stack up and up until suddenly the dog appears to become overwhelmed and completely unable to relax.

To avoid your dog becoming overwhelmed, follow our top ten tips for a happy howl-oween.

An illustration of a dog walking in daylight

1. Walk your dog before dark, before all the costumes come out.

It's a good idea to take extra tasty treats on your walk. If you spot any trick or treaters whilst you’re out, you can distract your dog with a tasty treat whilst you turn around to avoid any ghoulish encounters that might scare your dog.

2. Don't leave your dog alone in the garden.

With more people that normal out at night, it’s best to keep your dog in sight. Incidences of dog theft have been increasing over the past few years, with the home and garden being the top locations for pet theft.

Make sure your microchip details are up to date with the database! You dog also needs an ID tag on their collar.

An illustration of a dog sleeping in a cosy den

3. Provide a safe hiding place.

If your dog wants a break from the trick or treaters, a quiet and cosy familiar place in the house can give them the chance to relax.

If you are expecting lots of trick or treaters prepare a long-lasting treat for your dog to keep them entertained in their den such as stuffing a large rubber food-releasing toy with their favourite food and freezing it in advance, or you could smear meat/fish paste or squeezy cheese on a tray for your dog to enjoy licking off.

4. Keep human treats and sweets safely out of your dog's reach.

Many human treats, especially chocolate, are toxic to dogs.

An illustration of a dog with a radio

5. Turn up the volume on your TV or radio if your dog is unsettled by the noise of visitors.

6. Be careful when opening doors so your dog doesn't accidentally escape.

Before Halloween, you should teach your dog to wait at doorways so you can decrease the chance of your dog running out the door or jumping up at trick or treaters.

Popping them on a lead before you open the door will help to keep them safe too, or if you’re likely to have a lot of trick or treaters you could put a child-gate in your hallway, if it’s possible, to prevent any unwanted interactions and help your dog to feel safe.

Video: How to teach your dog to wait at doorways >

An illustration of a dog with a halloween backdrop

7. Never force your dog to wear a costume.

Dogs are many things, such as our best friends, but they are not fashion accessories. You should be aware of anything that could cause abrasions or irritations, results in their dog overheating, or stops them from expressing normal behaviour.

If you really want to take spooky photos of your dog, set up a Halloween themed backdrop or use filters on your phone.

8. Don't force your dog to receive any unwanted attention.

This includes from family members as your dog may not recognise you in costume.

An illustration of a dog catching a treat

9. Feed your dog before the trick or treating begins so they can eat at a relaxed time.

10. Think twice about taking your dog out trick or treating.

Remember 'situation-stacking' — even dogs who aren’t phased by people dressed up and all the excitement involved may not enjoy it for as long as you, and might well prefer to be at home in their den with their favourite treat and toys.

 

 


An owner and their dog listening to Sounds Scary sound therapy Prepare your dog for Firework Night

Not soon after Halloween is the next occasion where your dog might need some extra help - Firework Night. If you dog cowers at Catherine wheels, is spooked by sparklers or rattled by rockets, we're on hand to help calm those canine quivers. Our advice will help you to prepare your dog in the run up to firework season and what you can do on the night to help keep your dog happy.

How to prepare your dog for fireworks

 

A mixing bowl on a wooden board with some pumpkins DIY pumpkin fro-yo treats for dogs

Many human treats, especially chocolate, are toxic to dogs.

These quick and easy pumpkin frozen yoghurt bites are great to have on hand to distract your dog from human sweets.

Watch our DIY treat video >