Halloween can be an evening that brings lots of fun to the humans, but not always for pets. Lots of dogs may take the increase of door knocking in their stride, but for many that can mean an increasing rise in stress levels, especially if they’re scared of what turns up on the other side of the door. Halloween costumes can make people look very different, and dogs cannot always discriminate that there’s a human being underneath the costume right away.

Here are some useful tips on how to help your dog stay stress free this Halloween, if they are likely to be worried.

  • Most trick or treaters won’t visit your house if you don’t have a pumpkin outside these days. Otherwise, place a notice on your door which asks for people not to knock on the door or ring the bell.
  • Prevent your dog from having access to an open front door if they are likely to bolt. Make sure they are secure before you open the door. Stair gates can be a useful tool here.
  • If you are happy to have trick or treaters at your home, pair their presence with something wonderful for your dog – keep a separate bowl of tasty treats for your dog and shower the floor with tiny pieces each time someone arrives. Stuffed kongs/snuffle mats or simple grazing games can help keep them occupied.
  • If you are dressing your dog up, please be sure that they are comfortable with it and have the choice to say ‘no thank you’. If they avoid you, go and hide or look unhappy, leave them naked!
  • If you are giving out chocolate treats, be sure to keep them away from your dog.

If you have children that will be going trick or treating, please remind them about the golden rules of how to approach dogs. Dogs may behave very differently when the children are dressed up, so allowing the dog the choice to approach them (or not) is key.