Happy Hounds at Halloween

26th October 2021

From pumpkin carving to spinning scary yarns and creepy costumes to trick-or-treating, Halloween is a fun occasion for children and adults. However, it can be a real nightmare for dogs.

The Animal Behaviour College (ABC) is asking pet owners to take precautions to keep their four-legged friends safe this spooky season, as well as encouraging dog owners to use this time as a training opportunity.

“The days before Halloween are an ideal time to train and prepare your dog for the actual night” says Heidi Voll, Programme Manager of ABC’s Dog Obedience Programme. She adds: “With continuous doorbell ringing by overzealous trick-or-treaters and the screams and laughter of ghosts and goblins running up and down the street, dogs can easily become overexcited and fearful. Teaching them training basics and making appropriate accommodations, when necessary, will eliminate stress and ensure a happy and safe celebration.”

Here are some top training tips to keep your pet pooch, and you, happier and less stressed over Halloween:

Desensitise Your Dog

To desensitise your dog to the sound of the front doorbell, have a family member or friend ring the doorbell, but nobody is there. Do not react. Lack of reaction indicates that the sound means nothing. Do this repeatedly several times a day leading up to Halloween.

Sit and Stay

While teaching your dog doorbell conduct, reinforce the ‘Sit-Stay’ command. Have someone open and close the front door. Reward and praise your dog every time they follow commands and remain calm. Repeat this process leading up to fright night.

Treat Time

On Halloween night, have someone else handout treats. Keep your dog on a leash at your side. Every time they display the appropriate behaviour and listen to commands, reward with a treat. If you are taking your dog trick-or-treating with the family, be mindful that some dogs are afraid of inflated or kinetic decorations. If your dog displays fear, stop and ask him to ‘Sit-Stay’. When he or she follows your command, reward with a treat.

In addition to pre-Halloween dog training, ABC recommends five Halloween pet safety tips:

Prepare in Advance

Ensure your pet is microchipped with current contact information and is wearing a secure collar with appropriate ID tags. This will prove helpful in locating them in case they manage to escape.

Contain and Control

Do not allow your dog to roam in the garden or have free access to entranceways where trick-or-treaters come in. Keep them leashed by your side or move them to a quiet room in another area of the house.

Avoid Dangerous Decorations

A tail-wagging dog can accidentally knock items over and wreak havoc on decorations. Keep pumpkins with burning candles, fake dangling cobwebs, costume accessories and other harmful and potentially dangerous decorations up and out of reach.

Costumed Strangers

Some dogs are fearful of strangers and become anxious. They view strangers as intruders. Keep dogs calm and away from the fray by moving them to a safe and quiet room where they can feel secure.

Toxic Treats

If having a Halloween party, set ground rules for guests. Rich and spicy table foods and sweets, especially chocolate, can be dangerous and even fatal to dogs. Ask guests not to feed them and ensure unattended alcoholic beverages are not within the dog’s reach. If possible, move dogs to a quite area of the house away from the melee. Be sure to check occasionally to ensure there is plenty of water.


Collared is a dog accessory and gift shop in the heart of The Pantiles. The store sources top quality products from around the world for puppies and dog lovers. These include Puppia, West Paw, Wacky Walker, Rough Wear, Walters, Hunter and Flexi. The staff at Collared love to meet customers, especially the furry variety, and are ideally placed to offer advice on all dog-related topics.

Pay Collared a visit for some more ideas to keep your pooch happy this Halloween.