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Hounds And Halloween: What Do Dogs Really Think About Those Spooky Costumes and Displays

At A Glance

Are dogs afraid of Halloween? Probably. Dogs don’t understand the scary aspect of it, but they can get nervous around all the strange sights. But, there are ways to make Halloween fun and safe for dogs:

  • Acquaint them early and gradually with Halloween costumes and decor to minimize their stress.
  • Dress them up in costumes that are safe and comfortable.
  • Keep toxic treats away from them.
  • Create fun and safe Halloween activities for them.

Last Updated on: Oct 25, 2022

custom oil-painted dog portraits by Poshtraits

When Halloween rolls around, we humans generally get a kick out of spooky costumes and eerie decorations. Dogs? Not so much. Your pet may feel confused, stressed, or even threatened by the ghoulish scene they are faced with.

As we get ready to enjoy the ghostly night, it’s important to keep our pets comfortable and secure. The sudden spectacle of all things spooky and scary can be disturbing to our dogs.

Creepy Crowd, Spooky Streets, and … Perturbed Pets?

Halloween gives us a license to dress up any way we like, be it magical or monstrous, and revel in a spooky world where we can trick our way to treats.

But, as we walk around as Frankensteins and fairies, we need to consider the fact that our dogs may get spooked out by all the scary sights, and not in a fun way.

Dogs are familiar with our human faces, and the sudden shift to masks, horns, and fangs can unnerve our innocent pets.

Can dogs be scared of Halloween decorations? Absolutely.

Strange scarecrows, witches, tarantulas, and Jack-o-lanterns propped up in front yards are mysterious and unfamiliar to them. Such disturbing sights can startle them and may cause them to feel unsafe.

Dog owner Kendra Rae shares this insight, “Put yourself in your dog’s paws for a moment, and consider how utterly baffling the holiday must seem to the canine mind. Costumes, carved pumpkins, and bobbing for apples? It all seems pretty weird when you look at it from the outside.”

You may not be able to keep your dog from seeing these displays, but you can prepare it in the days leading up to Halloween. You can do this at home where they feel safe. Start by letting your dog see some illustrations, toys, or TV shows that feature these scary figures. Slowly introducing such sights to your dog can acclimatize it to upcoming Halloween festivities.

A sense of familiarity with Halloween decors can help minimize the shock factor and lessen their effect on your dog.

Should You Take Your Dog To Trick Or Treat?

dog in a Halloween costume

Kids and teens parading around in their costumes and knocking on doors for candies and goodies – trick-or-treating is the highlight of Halloween.

While some dogs love tagging along decked out in their Halloween garb, others may feel uneasy with all the bizarre-looking strangers around. Exposing nervous dogs to such sights can cause them disquiet.

Dogs that tend to be jumpy and territorial, in particular, are better off celebrating with you in familiar surroundings with familiar faces. Keep them in a safe space away from the commotion outside, endless doorbell ringing, and strangers asking for treats.

You can play with them and give them their own Halloween dog treats in a more controlled setting. Just make sure to take your disguise off first and show your dog your face to avoid spooking them out.

Tips For Responsible Trick-Or-Treating With Your Do

Even if your dog seems unvexed by the Halloween spectacle and your neighborhood is generally safe enough for trick-or-treating with pets, you must still take precautions before bringing your pup along.

  • Keep your dog on a short leash to keep it under control in case it gets agitated by other pets or people in costumes.
  • Avoid densely crowded areas because all the unfamiliar faces and costumes combined with loud noises can make your dog feel overwhelmed.
  • Keep it close to you at all times to prevent any aggression. You never know when your dog will get spooked out by a staggering zombie and decide to snarl or even bite in defense.
  • Be mindful of the decors and treats that your dog might get curious about.
  • Keep them away from candles, choking hazards like pumpkin chunks, and candy wrappers that may be toxic for them.
  • Carry a water bottle and healthy treats such as those by Petzyo to fuel your dog while trick-or-treating.
  • In case they run off, be sure to put information on their tag or a tracker chip so they’ll be easier to find.
  • Pay attention to any signs that suggest your dog is ready to call it a night, like refusing to walk or pulling on the leash.

Halloween Treats Can Be A Threat To Your Dog

Halloween treats

Sugary food and candy treats with artificial sweeteners like xylitol are toxic for dogs and can cause various health issues like gastric problems.

Chocolates are also a big no-no for dogs as they are made with cocoa that contains theobromine. In certain amounts, this compound is poisonous for dogs (and cats). The darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity level. So, make sure there is no chocolate anywhere near your dog, much less offered to it.

Make sure to keep watch of your dog and don’t allow people, no matter how well-meaning, to hand it Halloween treats that are hazardous to its health.

Random Trick Or Treaters: A Threat?

dog lying in the bed

The constant ringing of the doorbell and stream of trick-or-treaters showing up at your door can be disturbing and intimidating to your dog. And when crowds get loud and raucous, your dog can start feeling agitated.

Retired federal government employee Steve Broome agrees, “According to our vet dogs are easily spooked by a constant ringing doorbell and by kids wearing masks. Dogs don’t understand Halloween and can get high anxiety on Halloween.”

Some random, well-meaning trick-or-treaters touching or trying to engage your dog could terrify or vex it. Halloween may be the night of horror and fright, but a dog attack is not a scene we want to see.

Limit your dog’s exposure to this scenario by putting it in a safe and quiet room. It’ll help pacify your pet’s mind and reduce any risk of stress and aggression.

All The Halloween Revelry Without The Fluster

Keeping your dog safe doesn’t mean you and your dog have to be mere spectators during Halloween. You can still join the fun while making sure that your dog’s Halloween experience is enjoyable and not traumatizing.

Create your own trick-or-treat tradition at home by doing the command-reward playtime for your dog. Make Halloween-themed treats and take photos of your dog in action.

Look up local pet-friendly Halloween parties and activities where you can joy Halloween and dogs can feel safe, too. Dress up in costumes your dog would be familiar with and not scared of. You can also dress up your pup, but make sure they are comfortable in it.

dog sitting on the ground

Frequently Asked Questions

What If My Dog Escapes?

Keep your dog on a leash to prevent any spontaneous dashes. If your dog still manages to run away, alert your local animal rescue organization and form a small search party. You can also post about your missing dog on social media and distribute and post flyers in your area. Call local shelters to inform them of your missing dog and provide your contact number in case they find it.

How Can I Calm My Dog Down For Halloween Fireworks?

Put your dog in a safe, preferably soundproof, room and distract it with relaxing and fun treats, favorite toys, and playtime. Do not leave its side until it feels steady and calm.

Is It Okay To Put My Dog In A Halloween Costume?

Yes, it is, as long as the costume is safe and comfortable for the dog to wear.

Will My Dog Get Scared If I Wear A Costume?

According to Soshi Parks, Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT), “Dogs don’t care about ghosts or goblins, but they do care about the outline or shape a costume creates”.

So, are dogs scared of Halloween masks and will they get scared of you? Yes, because in a costume, you are odd and unfamiliar to them.

two white dogs in a Halloween costumes

Your dog may be as appreciative of the spooky season as you are, but it can still be a win-win for both of you. The key is to find a sweet spot where both you and your dog can enjoy the Halloween festivity safely and responsibly.

When the owner and pet have a strong bond, the dog can feel safe knowing that its loving human is the same guy behind that monstrous mask.



Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.