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Keeping Your Dog Safe on Halloween and How to Hand out Halloween Candy With Dogs | Pupford

November 7th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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Happy spooky season!

For many dog parents the spookiest part of Halloween is not the goblins and ghouls, but the thought of keeping their dog safe and calm during the hectic day.

From stressors to strangers to outright dangers, Halloween can be overwhelming for your dog. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite traditions like greeting trick-or-treaters and passing out candy.

Today we’ll dive into how to keep your dog safe this Halloween, while still allowing you to enjoy all the day has to offer.


Here’s a scary fact: Halloween is one of the top days for pets to end up in the emergency room. According to the AKC, it’s second to Christmas for pets eating things they shouldn’t and second to Fourth of July for being hit by a car.

That’s why it’s so important to prepare your dog for what’s to come and take extra steps to keep them safe. Here are steps for doing that:


halloween costumes can be scary and triggering for some dogs

Imagine you wake up one day and your house is filled with new noises, people approaching you, sights, and sounds – with zero explanation.

No wonder dogs get so overwhelmed on Halloween!

Taking the time to understand your dog’s triggers will help you alleviate them. Common triggers include:

  • Knocking on doors/ringing the doorbell
  • Costumes and masks
  • Strangers approaching/trying to pet your dog
  • Moving lawn decorations
  • Flashing lights

These can stress your dog out, leading to excessive barking, destructive behaviors, and even running away in an attempt to escape the undesired stimulus.


dog in crate to keep them safe on halloween

To combat your dog being overwhelmed or stressed, give them a “safe space” that they know they can go to to escape any triggers. The best place for this is a crate, accomplished through proper crate training techniques.

You can keep a bed or a favorite toy in their crate with them for extra comfort if you want. Either way, the crate should be a place they can go to unwind that’s away from stressors and is a wholly positive experience.

Helping them unwind will keep them from having any adverse – and potentially dangerous – reaction to what’s going on around them.

Need to prepare your dog for time in the crate? Check out the Crate Training Course in the Pupford Academy+.


If your dog is not in a crate or other closed-off area, teaching them “place” is essential for their safety. Giving the “place” cue when a trick or treater approaches, or having your dog associate the doorbell/knock with “place” keeps them away from the door.

Even if your dog is social and enjoys seeing visitors, it’s best to keep them away from the door on Halloween. Triggers and overstimulation could inhibit your dog’s impulse control and possibly lead them to run out the door.

Learn how to teach your dog “place” here.


dog getting desensitized to doorbell ringing

Another way to keep your dog safe on Halloween is to slowly and gently desensitize them to the stimuli they’ll encounter ahead of time. This could look like:

  • Gradually bringing them closer and closer to lawn decorations and animatronics
  • Having the doorbell ring frequently
  • Wearing capes, masks, or other costumes around your dog

But with desensitization training, you have to approach it carefully or else you could cause your dog more stress. For tips on doing it the right way, check out our Guide to Desensitization and Counterconditioning.

Using a combination of these techniques will help keep your dog safe and calm, even amidst ghosts and monsters!


how to pass out halloween candy if you have a dog

Handing out candy to adorable and scary trick-or-treaters is a time-honored tradition of Halloween. You don’t have to miss out on it because you have a dog, but you should make some adjustments.

Here’s how to hand out candy with dogs in your home:

  • Keep the candy out of reach

Chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs, and wrappers pose a choking and obstruction risk. Keep candy in a closed container and/or well out of reach of dogs, especially if you have a counter surfer.

  • Use a gate, exercise pen, or closed door to contain your dog

Keeping your dog away from the door keeps them away from the candy, eliminates the impulse to run to the visitors, and reduces the number of triggers your dog is exposed to.

This is also the polite thing to do for your trick-or-treaters, who may get overwhelmed by, or be allergic to, your dog.

  • Send your dog to their place when trick-or-treaters arrive

When the doorbell rings or there’s a knock at the door, give your dog the “place” cue before you open the door. That could be their crate, a bed, a placemat, or any designated place that keeps your dog a good distance from the door.

Have them hold their place until you’ve closed the door, then release and reward.

  • Keep (dog-friendly!) treats on hand

Every time a trick-or-treater approaches, it’s an opportunity to teach your dog the right way to behave and positively reinforce them for doing so.

Keep a stash of high-value training treats around the house or in a treat pouch around your waist so you can always be prepared to reward your dog.

  • Keep your dog engaged

To keep your dog calm and busy while you hand out candy, engage their brain through chewing, licking, or sniffing.

Our favorite enrichment options include enrichment toys, snuffle mats, lick mats, and chews.

Halloween doesn’t have to be scary for your dog – in fact, many can enjoy the holiday! What’s your dog’s favorite part of Halloween? Are they wearing a costume this year? Are you giving your dog any special treats for doing their tricks?

We want to hear all about it in the comments and on Instagram!


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