Dogs and Halloween don’t always mix. This holiday can be difficult for them, as human behavior around this time of year can be confusing for canines. After all, we buy a lot of tasty new candy, dress up in strange costumes, and small trick-or-treaters come knocking at the door.
Dogs don’t understand this at all. As a result, they can become worried, frightened, or overly protective on Halloween.
Thankfully, there are some Halloween safety tips for pet parents.
Our Top 5 Halloween Dog Safety Tips
Follow these five tips to get the most out of spending Halloween with dogs safely.
Desensitize Your Dog to the Doorbell
If your dog is reactive when the doorbell rings, do some training to lessen their reaction before the holiday.
Have them on a leash and have a pocketful of high-value (special) treats. Then open the door and stand in the doorway. Ring the doorbell and ask your dog to sit – it’s hard to bark, look around for strangers, sit, and focus on the treat all at the same time.
When your dog sits, praise them, and give them a treat. Repeat a few times, give praise, then go do something else. Repeat this several times leading up to Halloween.
If your dog is still a puppy, this is good practice for them in general. And, it’s particularly useful at this time of year. Puppies during Halloween can be especially hyperactive.
Keep Halloween Decorations Away
When decorating for Halloween, make sure you keep items that can be chewed up out of reach from your dog. That means keeping garlands and small objects off the floor and countertops.
If your dog swallows an indigestible object, they can become sick or worse. The inside of glow sticks, for instance, is toxic to pets.
Finally, your walls should be safe to decorate, as long as your dog is trained not to jump!
Likewise, if you need to let your dog into the backyard, make sure they can’t reach any decorations or lights.
Keep Your Dog In a Quiet, Separate Space
If your dog is anxiety-prone, it’s best to keep them in a separate room away from the front door, with a comfy place for them to rest.
Not only will constant noise be bombarding your dog’s sensitive ears during Halloween night, but unfamiliar scents and scenery as well.
If the risk of your dog escaping the home is your concern and you don’t have a separate room for them, you can set up a baby gate/dog gate.
If you trust your dog to be on better behavior and want them with you as you give out candy, then using a leash is advised.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that your dog is microchipped and that their collar has ID tags in case they try to escape. Lost pets are found much easier using these two methods.
Familiarize Your Dog with Costumes
If anyone in your household is going to wear a costume, introduce the concept of a costume to your dog before the holiday or Halloween party.
Several days ahead of time, place treats on one piece of the costume. At the same time, talk to your dog in a happy tone of voice. Say things like, “Look at this! What is it?” and give them a treat.
Repeat this a few times and then introduce another piece of the costume. The next day, repeat this with another piece of the costume. Keep it fun, interesting, and rewarding for your dog.
Keep Halloween Candy Out of Reach
Far too many dogs get into Halloween candy, and this can upset their stomachs and even cause death. Sugar, chocolate, and candy wrappers can all cause problems. That’s especially so if your dog discovers a bowl of candy and eats the whole thing.
You should also keep jack-o’-lanterns and any uncooked or overly-ripe pumpkins away from dogs. While cooked pumpkin is safe for dogs to have, a raw carved pumpkin that’s been sitting out will not be good for them.
What to do if Your Dog Eats Halloween Candy
If you suspect your pet has eaten Halloween candy that is toxic to dogs, you can contact animal poison control for immediate advice. You can also call your veterinarian or your closest emergency vet clinic.
Monitor your dog’s symptoms and behavior following the consumption of Halloween candy.
Dogs and cats alike are dangerously drawn to delicious trick or treat candy. Whether they are sugar-free candies or baking chocolates, none of it is safe for pet consumption.
Even if a specific item is not necessarily toxic to pets, a small object can become a choking hazard. Something as simple as a candy wrapper can affect a dog’s ability to breathe and cause choking.
Lastly, before giving your dog any kind of treat, remember to double-check that it is pet-safe.
By following these Halloween dog safety tips, you’re ensuring a less anxious night for both you and your dog friends. Remember to have fun, and keep your pup in a safe place while you enjoy the holiday.