Halloween –Can Be Fright Night for Fido

He can smell something is up. Jack-o’-lanterns, decorations and all that candy! And what’s this? A funny hat for him?

But wait, what’s that sound? Strangers at the door!

If your dog goes into high alert when people ring the doorbell or come a-knocking, Halloween trick-or-treaters are sure to set him barking.

Or if your dog gets scared of spooky, eerie noises from say, the faux haunted house next door, or costumed people waving noisy wands, swords, light sabers and the like, you may want to keep him away from all the Halloween hoopla.

“In either case, some dogs get so stressed out, they 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.”

Granted, some dogs take Halloween in stride and will sport that embarrassing costume just to make you happy. Just make sure it isn’t too restrictive or bothersome and that he can’t get into any candy.

For those dogs who will 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 microchippedand 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