Can You Take Your Dog Trick-or-Treating?

Published: 10/19/2020

Can you take your dog trick-or-treating? That depends on your pup's personality. Some dogs love soaking up the atmosphere of a busy crowd. Others prefer to chill at home away from all the people and noise.

Remember, Halloween isn't your everyday outing. Strange costumes, rambunctious children, and lots of activity can overstimulate even the most social dogs. Before leashing up and heading out, carefully consider your dog's temperament.

Thinking of bringing the fur-kids along to hunt for tricks and treats? Read on to discover how to plan your excursion, how to tell if your dog isn't feeling it, dog-friendly alternatives to trick-or-treating, and more!

Planning your trick-or-treating adventure

Here are a few things you can do in advance to ensure your dog-friendly Fright Night goes off without a hitch.

  • Purchase a reflective collar/harness and leash if you don't have already have one. Both the humans and hounds in your family should wear reflective gear. This keeps you safe by ensuring drivers can see you.
  • Know which neighborhood(s) you'll visit and how long you'll be out. It's a good idea to map out your route ahead of time. You might want to check with relevant neighborhood associations for information on which houses are giving out candy.
  • Check your dog's ID tags. You'll undoubtedly take every precaution to keep Spot safe, but accidents happen. Ensure your dog's tags are current in case your pup runs off.
  • Make sure your kids know that candy isn't safe for dogs. Young kids might want to share their goodies with the four-legged family members. Before you set out, explain to your children that candy can hurt dogs. They'll be happy to hear they won't have to share their candy hoard!
  • Practice your dog's obedience training. Make sure your dog's obedience skills are up to par before the big night. Commands to practice include "come", "watch me", and "heel".

How to take your dog trick-or-treating

Now that you're "pawsitively" sure your pal is ready to face the crowd of pint-sized ghosts and goblins, here's how to take your dog trick-or-treating.

  • Observe standard "petiquette". Although this one goes without saying, keep Lucky leashed at all times and respect other trick-or-treaters by cleaning up after your pup.
  • Monitor your fur-baby closely. If your pooch shows signs of aggression, anxiety, fear, or stress, turn paw and head back home. (Keep reading for signs that your dog isn't enjoying Halloween.)
  • Stick to the sidewalk. Walking along the shoulder of a road at night is dangerous for you, your dog, and drivers. Play it safe and stay on the sidewalk.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. We have no doubt you and your mutt will do everything right. But Halloween is a prime time for pranks. Stay vigilant!
  • Set boundaries with well-meaning trick-or-treaters. Allowing too many people and pets to interact with your dog could overstimulate them. Even the friendliest pups have their limits.
  • Keep your pup out of the candy. The last thing you want is your dog sticking their nose in the candy bucket! Maintain control over your dog at all times while you're out. When you get home, store the candy well out of their reach.
  • Bring some treats for Tucker! Seeing everyone else getting goodies is sure to turn Gizmo green with envy. Stash some treats in your pocket to let them join the festivities. (And to reward your dog's good behavior.)

A note on costumes and masks

Planning to don your creepiest Halloween mask? Be careful if you're bringing your dog along. Masks can not only scare your dog, but they might also make you unrecognizable. Try on the mask in front of your dog, preferably in a comfortable environment, to make sure they don't react. If your dog doesn't like your mask, it's safe to say they won't like anyone else's.

Speaking of masks, think twice before dressing up your pup. While there's no denying Bella will look adorable in that pirate outfit, costumes can impair your dog's vision and trigger anxiety. Some costumes might hide otherwise obvious signs of stress.

How to tell if your dog isn't enjoying trick-or-treating

Supervision is key to a successful Halloween outing. Here are some tell-"tail" signs that your dog isn't enjoying Fright Night as much as you are:

  • Tucking their tail between their legs
  • Excessive vocalizing
  • Lowered ears
  • Refusing to move from one spot
  • Shaking
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Cowering or turning away
  • Excessive yawning
  • Shallow or labored breathing

If you notice any of these signs, it's a good idea to call it a night. You don't want to cause unnecessary stress for your dog by forcing them to continue. Plus, when you get back, you can stick on your favorite Halloween movie! Which leads us to our next tip.

Trick-or-treating alternatives for anxious dogs

Got an anxious Afghan who doesn't do well in crowds? Don't fret! We've dug up some fun Halloween activities for anxious dogs.

Bake some tasty peanut butter Halloween treats

Your dog gets to stay in, and you get to munch on some tasty treats with your best four-legged friend. We call that a win-win. We've whipped up some peanut butter dog treat recipes that are sure to leave your buddy begging for more!

Paint a pumpkin together

All you and your shy Sheltie need for this dog-friendly Halloween activity is a pumpkin, some non-toxic paint, and a little creativity! Decorate a ceramic pumpkin with your pup's paw prints for the "ultimutt" spooky keepsake.

Cuddle up on the couch and watch a spooktastic flick.

What better way to spend Halloween than with a classic Halloween movie with your fur-baby by your side? Get extra cozy with dog-safe treats and plush blankets.

Need more inspiration? Check out our guide for more fun Halloween activities for introverted pets.

Receiving trick-or-treaters with your dog

Giving out candy this year instead? Your well-mannered dog can join you to pass out the goods. Here are a few tips for receiving trick-or-treaters with your spooky sidekick.

Brush up on your dog's obedience commands

This is extra important if your pooch is the type to bound up to the door, eager to greet visitors. You never know how strangers will react to your dog. (Especially if your pupper shows their excitement by jumping, licking, and barking.)

In the lead-up to Halloween, practice your dog's obedience commands. "Stay" is essential if you're receiving visitors. Working on "wait" and "quiet" is also a good idea for hyperactive hounds.

Does your mutt need a helping paw with mastering their manners? Book a training session with a dog trainer near you a couple of weeks before Halloween. This will give them plenty of time to perfect their commands.

Train your dog to give out candy

We know this one's a little far-fetched, but just Google "dogs handing out Halloween candy" if you don't believe us!

If your woofer has mastered every trick in the training manual, training them to give out Halloween candy might be right up their alley. Start by training your dog to drop an object.

However, Halloween candy is extremely dangerous for dogs. So if there's any doubt in your mind that your wolf might, well, wolf it down instead of handing it out, skip this one.

Alternatively, you might want to prepare goodie bags for your pal to give tricksters and treaters.

Let Rufus rest if they need to.

Watching your dog for signs of fear, stress, and anxiety is key while handing out candy. An endless stream of strangers ringing the doorbell could overwhelm your pup. If your dog isn't feeling it, send them to their crate or bed for a little quiet time.

Don't leave Lassie alone this Halloween

Deciding to leave your barker behind on Fright Night is a tough call. Keep your canine company and book a drop-in session with Wag!. Your pet caregiver will check on your dog and take them out for a potty break if needed. Message your pet caregiver right in the app to keep tabs on Tucker while you're out.

From all of us here at Wag!, have a happy "Howloween" with your hound!