Halloween can be a festive time for both children and adults.  It’s a time of enjoyable dressing in your favorite costumes, decorating our homes with elaborate Halloween ornaments, bright lights and even motorized animation along with the foot traffic of guest to endless parties. 

The Halloween displays and costumes that skillfully disguise even familiar kids or adults can be a scary time for dogs.  A dog’s keen senses are further clouded with frequent doorbell rings, human commotion, loud noises, strobe lights, artificial fog machines and in some cases, crying or terrified children that can lead to dog bites.

Look for Warning Signs

Since Halloween is such a joyous and common occasion for many, it’s not uncommon for a dog owner to express shock or disarray that their dog has bit someone.   Look for some of these warning signs:   

  1. Cowering -Your dog exhibits slight or drastic cowering. This can happen even days before your Halloween event since decorations and lights can cause confusion or terror for your dog
  2. Panting - If your dog is not hot or thirsty, yet they a are panting for no known reason
  3. Yawning even if not tired
  4. Loss of appetite and won’t eat
  5. Pacing
  6. Aggressive barking at the door, doorbell or fence
  7. Ears pinned back and fur along the back may stand up
  8. Non-social stand-offish behavior. Your dog may freeze when touched or move away from costumed friends or family
  9. Direct eye contact or eyes focused to the side

What to Do

As a Dog Owner:

  1. Secure your dog safely behind a closed door or in a crate away from the party or front door
  2. Close blinds or drapes so your dog does not see trick or treaters
  3. Exercise and play with your dog to eliminate excess energy well before guests or trick-or-treaters arrive
  4. Give your dog toys or chew bones or toy treats to keep your dog busy
  5. If weather permits, think about sitting outside to greet trick-or-treaters so you can control the doorbell rings or door knocking
  6. Keep your dog inside even if you have a fenced yard. A frightened or angry dog can jump or break through a fence if they feel threatened
  7. Make sure your dog is up on all vaccinations and shots

As a Party Guest or Trick-or-Treater

  1. Avoid trick-or-treating at houses were a dog is aggressively barking at the door or behind a fence
  2. If the dog owner opens the door and there is a dog, STAY WHERE YOU ARE
  3. COMMUNICATE - Let the dog owner know that you are uncomfortable with the dog. Most responsible dog owners will respect the information and will restrain the dog.  If not, slowly leave.
  4. If you know the dog, calmly call his/her name remembering the dog probably won’t recognize you by site if you’re in costume yet may recognize your voice
  5. If the dog is threatening you or your child, STAY CALM AND STILL:
    1. STAY where you are – DO NOT run, wave your arms, or jump
    2. CALM AND QUITE and DO NOT scream. Try to stay calm. Hold children in your arms or close to your body with a calm voice for them to remain quiet.  If the dog sniffs you, you may want to gently drop all candy or treats
    3. LOOK DOWN AT THE GROUND Look at the ground with no eye contact with the dog what so ever
    4. LEAVE OR BACK AWAY Slowly back away as the dog loses interest in you
  6. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, IMMEDIATELY seek medical attention along with contacting the dog owner