Halloween – All Tricks and No Treats for Fido

If Fido could talk, he’d tell you Halloween is a ruff night for him. Strangers constantly ring the doorbell. They’re dressed up in weird costumes and waving all manner of noisy light sabers, swords and wands. He’s not allowed to bark at them or jump on them, much less chase them off.

Even people he knows look completely different and smell different. There are treats around, but he can’t have them. For a dog, Halloween is a big night of “No!” and “Stop that!”

“Some dogs get so stressed out by all the commotion, they act out,” said County Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson. “They’ll be happier if they are secured behind a closed door or in a crate in a room away from the front door.”chihuahua_taco_costume

To be fair, County Animal Services says the Halloween hullaballoo might not bother your pooch at all. In that case, just make sure any costumes aren’t restrictive or too bothersome for them, and they can’t get into candy.

If you know your dog is apt to howl at all the commotion, here are some tips:

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