Trick-Or-Treating With Your Dog: Halloween Pet Etiquette

Trick-Or-Treat With Your Dog: Halloween Pet Etiquette

Halloween can be an exciting time for the whole family, including your pets! It’s a great excuse to dress up, eat candy and have fun! We don’t get overly spooky at our house, especially with kids, but thanks to Pinterest, there is no shortage of ideas for decorating, tricking, treating, or celebrating the holiday. Your pet doesn’t have to miss out either! There are plenty of spooky and not-so-spooky ways to trick-or-treat with your dog and abide by proper Halloween pet etiquette.

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One fun way to get your pets in on the action is to include them in a family Halloween costume – something themed where the whole family gets involved. If you’re at a loss, Pinterest has tons of costume ideas for pets and their humans. The costumes are the best part!

Ask: Will My Dog Enjoy This Activity?

The first question to answer is: Would your pet enjoy this activity? You know your pet best, so you’re the best person to make that decision. Some pets may love it, while others hate it. If your pet gets spooked easily or doesn’t respond well to strangers dressed up, you may want to hit “skip”. If they are likely to spook, get aggressive or slip away amidst all the activity, leave them home. They will certainly enjoy a cozy, quiet space indoors over trick or treating.

For those dogs that WILL enjoy all of the festivities, here are some general pet etiquette tips to ensure your dog can enjoy trick-or-treating this year. 

Trick-Or-Treating With Your Dog: Halloween Pet Etiquette

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Pet Etiquette Tips for Trick-or-Treating

Interacting with Kids and Other Animals

You know how social your dog is and how they respond around children and other pets. If your dog gets aggressive around strangers or kids, this is not the night to work on improving that.

Even very social dogs can become anxious or scared by Halloween displays, loud noises, and the unpredictable behavior of little kids hopped up on sugar. If you don’t know how your dog might respond to the “frights” or surprises they might encounter along your route, then make a smart choice and leave them at home.

Sadly, not everyone is a dog enthusiast. Everyone has their different comfort levels with animals they don’t know. If you are out and recognize someone is not thrilled with animals, hold your dog back and wait with them while your kids collect their treats. Don’t linger near a person who you sense is uncomfortable with animals. Be respectful and move on. 

Trick-Or-Treating With Your Dog: Halloween Pet Etiquette

Make a Plan

Since you are typically walking, consider the length of your route. You want everyone to have fun, not be exhausted. Well, I take that back… you *might* want to wear the kids out a bit since they’ll be sugared up. But you don’t want to push them to the edge where they are just grumpy and miserable.

You may want to consider a path that loops back by the house once – like a figure 8 where your home is at the center. Then, if your dog gets tuckered out, you can drop him off before heading out for more treats with your family.

Have the Necessities on Hand

Often a walk equates to your dog’s time to “do his business” be sure to bring poop bags and any clean-up supplies you might need.

Since dogs shouldn’t eat candy or chocolate, they’ll enjoy being able to earn treats. You can use treats to reward good behavior and help curb any temptation they might have to snag candy from the trick-or-treaters. You will also want to bring water and some treats for your pet. A collapsible water bowl or a water bottle with a sports top will do for water.

Pet Safe Costumes

I’m a pretty optimistic person, but this is one of those situations that warrants asking: what could go wrong here? Remember, your pooch’s safety is your number one priority. If you believe your dog can wear the costume without harm, go for it. Here are some tips for choosing the right Halloween costume for your dog:

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  1. Avoid ill-fitting costumes. A too big or too small costume could be uncomfortable and unsafe for your pet. Your dog should have full mobility when his costume is on. It should not impair his ability to see, breathe or bark and should easily accommodate bathroom breaks.

  2. Consider your dog’s temperament when you select his costume. If your dog doesn’t like stuff on his face or gets anxious or agitated when you touch his feet, avoid costumes that would include shoes or a hat. This will be different for each pet.

  3. Ensure that the costume has reflective material, making it visible to cars. Your pet should always be leashed, but if he gets away, you want drivers to see him.

  4. Train your dog to wear his costume ahead of time. Offer your dog lots of praise and treats so that he forms a positive association with wearing the costume. Reward your dog periodically with treats throughout the night.

Halloween Candy and Dogs

As a general rule, Halloween candy is not for dogs. Many candies are toxic to dogs. Chocolate and licorice are two such candies that can be dangerous for dogs. Other candies might be ok in small amounts but aren’t healthy for dogs. Don’t allow anyone to give your dog candy. Be aware that candy will be dropped on the ground, and you’ll need to be extra vigilant about watching out for what your dog might be able to access. Your kids should also know this information so they can help keep an eye on your dog through the night.

Ensure your dog doesn’t have access to the candy you will pass out to trick-or-treaters. After Halloween, your dog shouldn’t have access to the candy you bring home, either. The bottom line is that it’s necessary to ensure that all candy is kept out of your dog’s reach. It’s best to designate a high shelf in the pantry for your kids to keep their candy bags after Halloween to ensure that your dog can’t get into it when they aren’t around.

I hope these tips help you and your pets to have a fun and safe Halloween.

Trick-Or-Treating With Your Dog: Halloween Pet Etiquette
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Attention: Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible. Click here to see if you qualify.