Halloween - tips from Agria's behaviourist and trainer

Things are about to get scary!

Celebrating Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve is a highlight of the year for many, and the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of winter and the start of the ‘darker half’ of the year. Of course, things aren't set to be the same this year - but it might still be fun to celebrate as a bubble! Hubble...bubble....

Dressing up in fabulously scary costumes and carving pumpkins will still be great fun for the whole family – but how can you make sure it is as much fun for your dog?

As always, it is about stopping to think about things from your dog’s point of view – and realising just how scary Halloween can be!

First of all there are the costumes. All the people the dog knows and trusts suddenly turn into ghosts, and witches and zombies! They look strange, they behave oddly and for a dog who looks at outlines and not details, they can be truly frightening.

Some dogs can take this in their stride, get into the spirit of the celebrations, and enjoy the apparent madness of it all but for many, it is a confusing and worrying time.

Make sure if you are going to dress up, you let your dog see you do it – and give them a chance to investigate and smell you so they know it is really you! The same goes for all the rest of the family.

Then there is the temptation to dress up your dog and make them part of your Halloween fun. And while this is your fun - it won't be theirs.

Most dogs will happily wear a Halloween bandana and enjoy showing that off – but every year social media is full of photos of dressed up dogs looking stressed, worried or just really fed up while their owners post about how much fun they had. Don’t let this be you. As well as not being enjoyable for most dogs, costumes can block sight, sound or movement, or even cause them to overheat or itch – all of which can result in dogs acting unpredictably or even aggressively.

Remember that chocolate is toxic for dogs, and keep human treats out of reach of doggie noses! If you really want to involve your dog in Halloween, some special dog treats can make their Halloween as much fun as yours.

So enjoy Halloween, have a fabulous time but make sure that your dog enjoys it just as much.

Note: If you have any concerns that your dog may behave aggressively to family members, consult a qualified and experienced behaviourist for help.


Article written by Agria's behaviourist and trainer, Carolyn Menteith. Carolyn has over 20 years experience working with dogs and other companion animals. Her passion is for helping owners build a strong and positive relationship with their dogs and fully develop the potential of the bond between them.