Why Halloween Is Really Scary for Dogs

by Sundays

If you’re an introvert, you might relate to some of the ways Halloween can be scary for dogs.

Ah, Halloween season! It's time to get ready to decorate pumpkins, drink a whole lot of pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, start planning your matching dog and person Halloween costumes. There are so many fun things to plan, who wouldn’t love Halloween?

Well, there is one four-legged creature that might not be so willing to partake in all the ghoulish festivities. And yes, we’re talking about the other half of your “couples” Halloween costume. Even though tons of Halloween-related events and decorations aren’t even meant to be scary, there are plenty of things about Halloween that can be super scary to your dog. 

What Dogs Are Scared of on Halloween

If you’re an introvert, you might relate to some of the ways Halloween can be scary for dogs.

Costumes, Masks, and Halloween Makeup

If you’re going to a Halloween party or event, or hosting one, you can’t be that one person who wears the “This is my Halloween costume” shirt. Or the procrastinator who ends up pulling something together and everyone keeps asking what you’re supposed to be. So of course, you have to have an amazing costume, complete with mask or makeup. 

You get all ready and emerge from the bathroom, ready to win that contest, but there’s only one problem. Your dog goes on full alert because you’ve transformed into a stranger. Imagine that you’re taking an afternoon nap, and you’re just waking up, and your favorite person is replaced by someone who sounds just like them, but looks like the Front Man from Squid Games or a Demogorgon. It doesn’t even have to be a scary costume; just the fact that you look totally different can be pretty terrifying for your dog.

Trick-or-Treaters

You may have tons of mini candy bars ready to go, or maybe you plan on turning out all the lights, but in some neighborhoods, there’s no avoiding trick-or-treaters. It’s the one night where strangers and neighbors will come steadily knocking or ringing the doorbell. 

Well, we all know who goes crazy for the doorbell or anything that even sounds like a knock at the door–and not in a good way. In your dog’s mind, their job is to alert you of any potential danger, and they know that danger can come through the front door. So on Halloween, it seems like their territory and their person is under constant attack with strangers trespassing all night. 

Parties and Events

If you were thinking of taking your dog to a Halloween event or trick or treating, or having them at the house when you’re hosting a party, you might want to think about your dog’s personality first. Are they pretty easygoing and love meeting new people and being where the action’s at? Even so, do they like kids? Because you will probably encounter a lot of kids out and about no matter where you go. Are they okay with loud noises like construction or the 4th of July and New Year’s fireworks? Do they tend to stay out of the garbage?

If you answered no to any of these, then Halloween parties could be your pet’s worst nightmare. We’re talking about the dogs that are scared of anything on wheels, that hide behind you or growl when kids try to pet them, and that have been to the emergency vet for eating brownies, grapes, and trash so many times that you have the route memorized.

Decorations


The Halloween aisles at the craft store are so tempting right now. Or maybe you have a box of go-to Halloween decorations that you’ve been waiting to get out until it was socially acceptable. Giant spider webs for the yard with 4-foot spiders, huge inflatable pumpkins, ghosts that fly and light up, spooky skeleton heads that start talking when you walk by–they would all look excellent in your front yard, but again, they might also terrify some pups.

Signs of Dogs That Are Scared


So, how do you know if your dog is scared of all things Halloween? You know your dog better than anyone, so if you think your dog looks scared, they probably are. Look for some of these signs in reaction to Halloween decorations, sounds, costumes, etc.:

  • Trembling 
  • Tail tucked between their legs 
  • Hiding
  • Not wanting to look at you
  • Being more clingy than usual
  • Whining
  • Yawning
  • Lowering their ears
  • Panting
  • Pacing

How to Make Halloween Less Scary for Your Dog

Here are some ways you can enjoy Halloween with your dog, even if they’re a scaredy cat.

Spare your dog from house parties. 


If you’re having a house party, you have several options for making sure your dog won’t freak out. You can have them stay with a trusted friend or family member (one that your dog likes!) before you even start decorating or getting ready until maybe the next day, after you’ve had time to put away the decorations and clean up. 

Option two is to hire a pet sitter to watch them in their own home for the night, but you’ll need to do a meet and greet at least a week before the party and have them go on a walk together to see if your dog likes them. 

The last option is to keep your dog in the house, but set them up in a quiet room away from the party with their bed, several chew toys and treat toys, and maybe some low white noise. Give them one of your shirts to cuddle with and make sure to play with them plenty before the party and take them for a potty break. When you check on them during the party, remember to remove your mask.

Instill a no-bell, no-knock policy for trick-or-treaters.


Covid-era trick-or-treating pretty much made it the norm for people to put tables at the end of the driveway with baskets of treats, so you wouldn’t have to come up to the door. You can use this same tactic, and if you love handing out candy and seeing all your neighbors and kids in costume, just pull up a chair and hang out in your driveway or garage alongside the table. 

Then you can make sure your dog is not put into hysterics every time there’s a doorbell or knock. Pull the curtains so your dog can’t see strangers coming and going, and give them a fun treat toy to work on during trick-or-treating hours.

Try to keep the decorating dog-friendly.


Maybe you can focus more on the outside and front of the house rather than inside when it comes to Halloween decorations. Leave the giant inflatables to your neighbors, or anything that has a surprise element to it. You can still decorate inside, but just keep your pup in mind and stay away from anything you know would be too scary for them.

Don’t approach your dog in costume.


If your dog is already reacting to the amazing mask or costume that you got when it’s just sitting on a chair, imagine how terrified they will be when you have it on. Make arrangements for your dog to have a sitter or to stay with someone when you’re getting ready and going out with your costume on. 

Don’t take your dog to Halloween events.


When in doubt, have them sit it out. It might sound fun to get that doggy and me costume and parade your dog around so people can say how cute you both are together. But maybe it’s best to save the matching costume for a brief photo shoot, and then you can post the pics on social media. Then your dog can stay happy at home while you’re out, and you won’t have to worry if your dog is stressed out all night.

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