Halloween – A Real Fright Night for Fido?

Ringing doorbells, trick-or-treaters in crazy get-ups, eerie noises and frighteningly real displays.

It may be the perfect haunted Halloween for you, but Fido may not realize it’s all pretend. All the strange sights and sounds can scare him, or at the very least stress him out.

He may go into extreme protectiveness mode and bark at everyone who comes to the door. Or go crazy trying to get that cute doggie costume off or drive you crazy trying to get at the Halloween treats.

“Some dogs take Halloween in stride, but others act out,” said County Animal Services Director Dan DeSousa. “Do Fido a favor and keep him behind a closed door or a crate away from the front door.”

Whether it’s Fido’s first Halloween or one of many, you may need to help your dog get through it or your day may turn into a ruff night.

Here are some tips from County Animal Services:

For pet owners:

  • Secure your dog away from the door.
  • Distract your dog with a favorite toy.
  • Turn on the TV or play music in the dog’s room to mask sounds of activity at the front door.
  • Close the drapes so the dog doesn’t see people walking by the front windows.
  • If your dog barks at the doorbell, disconnect it or watch for trick-or-treaters so they won’t ring the bell or knock at the door.
  • Keep all pets indoors (cats, too) so they don’t get spooked and run away.
  • Make sure all your pets are microchipped and dogs are registered with Finding Rover in case they do escape out the front door.

For parents and kids out trick-or-treating:

  • Don’t approach any dog even if you know him. He may not recognize you in costume.
  • Avoid houses with a dog barking behind the door or a fence.
  • If a dog is at the door when the owner opens it, do not approach him. Let the owner come to you with candy.
  • If the dog escapes or you meet a loose dog, stand still and “be a tree.” That means fold your hands in front and watch your feet. The dog will probably just sniff you and move away but if the owner is present, wait for him to get the dog before you turn away.

Keep these tips in mind and both you and your pets can enjoy a safe and happy Halloween.

Tracy DeFore is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact