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Trick or Treat: 9 Tips For Having The Best Dog-Friendly Halloween with Your Pet

Halloween can be a fun and exciting time of the year. But it isn’t always fun for everyone, and that includes pets. While some dogs love the excitement of Halloween, other dogs can become nervous and overwhelmed with so much stimulation. Read on for 9 tips for a safe and memorable dog-friendly Halloween for pups of all temperaments.

Tip #1: Picking Out The Right Dog Halloween Costume

Picking out a costume for your pet can be lots of fun. A good way to ensure you find a comfortable pet costume is to take your pet with you to shop. While it’s convenient to shop online for a pet Halloween costume, it also means that your dog can’t try it on. Shopping in-store with your dog means that you can ensure that your pet doesn’t mind the Halloween costume and that it fits. Here is a list of things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid costumes that cover large parts of your pet’s head or ears. Some dogs have sensitive ears, and if they feel like they can’t see properly, this can make them nervous.
  • Choose the right size. avoid costumes that dangle or drag on the ground, as this can trip your dog. You’ll also want to avoid anything too small or tight. You can test for the size by using the “two-finger rule” – if you can fit two of your fingers comfortably between your dog’s neck and the costume’s neckline, it should be a good fit.
  • Avoid costumes that make a lot of noise. This depends on your pet. If you know your dog is sensitive to sounds, don’t pick a costume with bells, or ones that make a lot of noise when your pet moves. Their ears are very sensitive, and if they’re already uncomfortable with the new costume, having it be noisy could only make it worse.
  • Don’t pick a costume with flashing lights. Flashing lights can be a trigger for some dogs, and if there are flashing lights on your pet’s costume, this can make them anxious. 
  • However, do pick something that has reflective strips, or that you can add reflective strips to. While full-blown lights can distract your pet, reflective strips are a good way to ensure visibility on dark streets during Halloween and are far less triggering for your pet.
  • Don’t force it. If your pet is agitated, such as running away, shaking or whining, don’t force it on them, and maybe try again later. Use a soothing voice, encouragement and lots of rewards. If you’ve purchased the dog Halloween costume, try and get rid of the “unfamiliar” scent – sleeping with the costume to mark it with your scent, or rubbing the costume with your pet’s toys can help your dog feel more at ease. If that doesn’t work, your pet may just not be able to wear a full costume – try something simpler, like a decoration for their collar instead.

Ready to take your furry best friend shopping? You can contact your local Bone & Biscuit to find out what they carry for dog Halloween costumes. Here’s a list of Bone & Biscuit locations for you to find your closest store.

Tip #2: Learn Your Dog’s Stress Signals & Triggers

A close up of a German shepherd dog curled up on a cushion.
Photo by Rebecca Campbell on Unsplash

It’s important to know your dog’s stress signals, at Halloween and all times of the year. Keep track of what makes your dog bark or whine – is it loud noises, or crowds of people? Pinpoint what might be causing your pet anxiety so that you are better prepared in future. Here is a quick list of stress signals to look for:

  • Pacing or shaking
  • Whining or barking
  • Prolonged, intense yawning or excessive licking
  • Changes in eyes and ears, such as widening of eyes or pulling their ears back
  • Tucking their tails or stiffening up
  • Panting
  • Changes in bodily function, such as peeing themselves or vomiting, or refusing to eat
  • Avoiding or hiding

Tip #3: How To Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

As many of us know, fireworks are a big part of Halloween celebrations. However, fireworks are obviously loud and can spook your pet. Speaking in soft tones with encouraging words and using treats and toys can help to keep your pet relaxed. If your pet is seeking your attention, or protection, reassure them with your presence and affection. Stay close during the fireworks and comfort them. However, if your pet is agitated and trying to hide or get away, don’t push it – give your pet the space they need. And one of the crucial ways to help your pet is to set up a “safe space”, which leads us to our next tip.

Tip #4: Set Up A Safe Space For Your Dog

If your dog finds Halloween overwhelming, setting up a safe space in your home is essential. Find a quiet area in your home – is it quietest in your bedroom, or maybe even the laundry room? Areas with carpet or lots of curtains and fabric can help muffle loud noises. Then, set up a corner with your pet’s bed or crate for them to lie in; make it feel like a cozy dog den. Get blankets and toys, and keep their water and food nearby so they don’t feel like they need to leave the spot if they’re overwhelmed. Another thing you can do is put an old t-shirt with your scent in their bed – this study from Science Direct explains the power of scent for dogs, and how your scent can help calm your pet and make them happy. And provide easy access for your pet – if they feel like they can’t escape, it will only make them more agitated.

Tip #5: Train Your Dog To Greet People At The Door Nicely

A light-coloured golden retriever lays down on top of a welcome mat near the front door and looking up.
Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Training your dog to greet people at the door calmly can be a tricky one. However, if you’re expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters this Halloween, it’s important to get your dog trained to answer the door properly. Here are some quick tips for training your dog to greet people at the door:

  • Train your dog to sit when there’s a knock at the door. Use treats and give your dog the sit command anytime there’s a knock at the front door. You can get help from your friends, family or neighbours for practice. The key is to teach them to instinctively sit when there’s a knock at the door.
  • Socialize your dog. Get your dog familiar with meeting people. You can socialize your dog by taking them on walks in busier areas, to the dog park or doggy daycare. You could even try taking them to your local Bone & Biscuit store – we love meeting your pets, and it’s a great way to socialize your dog.
  • Get your dog familiar with people in costumes. People in costumes can be scary for dogs. If you have your costumes early, get your pet familiar with them so they aren’t as frightened when trick-or-treaters come to the door.

If you think answering the door will be too much for your pet, see if you can set up a safe space, as previously recommended, for your dog to stay in for a few hours while trick-or-treaters are visiting.

Tip #6: Getting Tasty Treats For Your Dog

A close up of some dog cupcakes at Bone & Biscuit, the perfect treat for a dog-friendly Halloween.
Some tasty dog treats from the Bone & Biscuit Bakery, the addition to your dog-friendly Halloween.

Just like us, dogs love a good treat, and what better day to get some for them than Halloween? Picking out special treats is important for rewarding, and reassuring, your pet so that they can stay focused and relaxed. And there’s plenty of tasty options out there. You could choose something more festive, such as the decorative baked doggie treats from our Bone & Biscuit bakery, or a more classic option from our wide selection of high-quality dog treats that you can find at your local Bone & Biscuit store. Whatever you choose, picking something “special” will be a fun and tasty experience for your dog to enjoy, and will help distract and train them.

Tip #7: Getting A New Toy

wicker basket of Huxley & Kent funny dog toys
Getting a new toy is always exciting for your dog.

Sometimes all your dog needs to feel excited and distracted is a new toy to play with. Choosing something like a chew bone or a classic Kong with pet-safe peanut butter (meaning all-natural, with no added sweeteners) can really help to keep them occupied when Halloween activities start. Giving them something to occupy themselves while you’re busy can help your pet have fun and stay stress-free!

Tip #8: Reward Good Behaviour

If you notice your dog behaving well, such as sitting when someone knocks at the door without being prompted, reward your pet. Give them treats, lots of attention, play with them – acknowledge their good behaviour so your pet learns to keep doing it. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to train your dog to behave properly and listen to you. Plus, who can resist giving their pet a little extra love?

Tip #9: Take Your Dog On A Big Walk

Try to take your dog on a big walk before the Halloween festivities start. You’ll want to avoid when everyone is out trick-or-treating as this can also be overwhelming for your pet. Try to go in the morning to avoid lots of people. Not only is it important to exercise your pet, but tiring them out is a key step in keeping your pet less excitable. Take them on a hike or to the beach, or get them playing with other dogs. If you don’t have the time to take them before work, try to get them into doggie daycare so that by the time you pick them up, they’ve had loads of fun at daycare and are nearly spent of energy for the evening.

A brown lab sits beside three orange pumpkins during a dog-friendly Halloween activity in a grassy field.
Photo by Ben Hanson on Unsplash

Now you’re all set for your pet-friendly Halloween this year! From comfortable Halloween dog costumes to tasty treats and safe spaces, there’s plenty of ways you can ensure a better experience for your dog.

Are you ready to make this year a true “dog Halloween”? Stop by your local Bone & Biscuit store for a cute costume, fun toys or tasty treats for your dog.

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