It’s that time of year again:


Do trick or treaters trigger your dog’s worst behavior? If so, check out our 8 tips for keeping your dog calm when, ding dong, those Halloween goblins arrive. This is the third installment in our popular Tips Series, divided into treats and tricks instead of do’s and don’ts.

Exercise your dog

Hint: This is a given!

A dog bubbling with energy is more likely to trigger when the doorbell rings than a dog that is well-exercised.

Make sure your dog is wearing her collar and leash

Put your dog’s collar and leash on and keep them on during trick or treating hours. If your dog wears a training collar, put that on and attach the leash. A dog wearing their training equipment is in a frame of mind to learn and listen.

A dog running loose is impossible to catch or calm.

Keep your dog with you as the hours pass

Massage its neck. Keeping your dog at your side during trick or treat hours will give your dog confidence, and help him stay calm.

Do not break into a run when the doorbell rings.

Answer the door BEFORE your dog

Before you open the door, step on your dog’s leash. Place your dog behind you. THEN answer the door.

A dog that gets to the door first is likely to believe she is in charge of deciding who can enter and who can’t.

Goblins: Trick or Treat!
Dog: Bark, bark, Go away!
Goblins: Trick or Treat. Trick or Treat.
Dog: Bark, bark. Go away, you nasty, horrible goblin. Go away I tell you. Go away!

Position your dog behind you during the entire trick or treat event

No visiting until your dog is calm. Stand at your dog’s front end. Not its back. Not six feet away. Hold your dog’s hand – so to speak – massage its neck.

Do not let go of your dog unless the door is secure, all four paws are on the ground, and your dog is calm, calm, calm.

Consider placing your dog in her crate near the door

…Or using gates, or tying the dog so you can repeat the training procedure each time the bell rings: Calm the dog, take her collar, massage her neck, keep her behind you while you answer the door. Step on the leash!

Do not lock your dog in the bathroom or a bedroom. Avoidance leads to more of the same behavior. Addressing your dog’s questions leads to change. AGAIN, do not let go of your dog unless the door is secure, all four paws are on the ground, and your dog is calm, calm, calm.

Talk to your visitors, not your dog

Do not talk or make eye contact with your dog while you are exclaiming over costumes.

High pitched voices, baby talk and excitable speech are likely to over-excite both your visitor and your dog!

Do say “Good dog”

When the night is done, give your beloved pup a well-deserved reward in the form of a loving pat, an ear massage, a sweet (quiet) word, and/or possibly a high-protein doggie treat.

No candy; no chocolate.

And lastly – DO enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.