7 tips for trick-or-treating your dog

moms and kids dog in Halloween sweaters with our trick or treating; trick or treating safety tips

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There’s a hint of pumpkin spice in the air, your stylishly matching dog and owner are outfitted, and you haven’t eaten the entire bag of fun treats—yet. It’s almost Halloween! And maybe it’s time to take your dog on a trick-or-treating adventure!

Wait – can dogs trick or treat? Will they enjoy roaming the neighborhood with all the little ghosts and goblins? Or do they prefer to stay at home, patiently looking at the fall food you put on the counter?

“It all depends on the dog,” says Jenna Stregowski, RVT, health and behavior editor for Daily Paws. “If your dog loves children, is confident around a crowd, and has learned to walk on a loose leash, a trick or treat walk can be fun for both of you.” However, he cautions dogs that don’t follow really good should not trick or treat with children.

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You’ve probably already used positive reinforcement training to help your dog learn basic cues like “stay,” “heel,” and “go.” These and other skills are invaluable for keeping your pup safe and comfortable during dog trick-or-treating or other crowd-based gatherings. Here are some other tips to keep in mind.

1. Focus on training First measure

Stregowski says that if your dog tends to be nervous about new things and hasn’t yet been conditioned, now is not the time to try anything new. If your dog is still learning to walk on a loose leash, you’ll want to finish developing that skill before trick-or-treating.

2. Know where it can go

A quiet neighborhood that your baby already knows is ideal for enjoying Halloween fun, and some pet-friendly events might be good too. Just check before you go, as some areas have guidelines about which households are eligible for trick-or-treating and whether pets are included. Some apps, like Nextdoor, even create custom maps where residents can indicate if there are dog-friendly treats and treats in addition to the usual treats.

Stregowski recommends walking around during the day and evening because it’s easier to keep track of your dog, plus they’re less likely to be spooked by large, shadowy costumes or flashing lights.

“Also avoid areas with heavy traffic or events with loud music or other noisy sound effects,” he adds. “Don’t stray too far from your home or car so you can leave quickly when your dog is ready to go—which may be sooner than you expect.”

3. Get the right supplies

Oh, you’ll need everything: Flashlight (not glow sticks), water bottle for travel, poop bags, special dog treats (especially since dogs can’t afford chocolate, raisins, candy corn, or in any of the treats usually distributed) and maybe a little coat or sweater if the weather is dreadful.

4. Double check the suit

No matter how adorable a dog Halloween costume is, you don’t want an outfit that restricts your pup’s mobility or vision — and Stregowski says if any part of the costume bothers them, take it off. It should also be comfortable for them to walk in and not interfere with the use of a proper leash and collar or harness.

“Reflective tags or tape should be included in your dog’s costume for vehicle visibility and safety,” she adds. “Battery powered lights can also be used, but keep the wires/wires away from each other so your dog doesn’t chew on them.”

Most importantly, make sure your dog has a current ID and microchip in case the two of you are separated.

RELATED: 13 costumes for small dogs

5. Give your dog space

Always keep your baby on a lead and away from large crowds as this keeps them safe and prevents them from being touched by eager human trick-or-treaters.

When planning the event, Stregowski advises considering who will be coming (often the children in the family) and whether it will be stressful for you and/or your dog.

“There’s a lot to keep track of, so you might need another adult,” he says. “Also, if your dog tends to follow children around and ‘mother’ them when they approach strangers’ doors, this can be difficult for both you and your dog.” Instead, let the kids approach the front doors on their own, and you and your pup stay a few feet away. This helps them stay calm and avoid any pets in the house (we want to keep them safe too!)

Finally, give your four-legged friend frequent breaks from the ring by stepping away for short periods of time. “This allows your dog to decompress,” says Stregowski.

6. See what they smell

Normally, it is recommended to let your dog sniff a lot during walks, as this provides essential mental stimulation. However, you should watch out for what they ingest while trick-or-treating (all candy or the villain dropped costume pieces!) and be ready to catch anything they might try to steal.

7. Know when it’s time to go home

In such an active environment, it’s easy for your dog to become restless quickly. How will you know when your pet is ready to call it a night? Stregowski says that everyone is different, but here are some typical signs of stress or overstimulation:

  • Shaking/shaking

  • Twisted tail

  • Licking lips, yawning, looking away

  • Breathing at rest

  • He tries to hide it

  • Excessive sweating

  • Vocalization (barking, whining, growling)

  • Aspiration/aspiration of lungs

  • Trying to run away or pulling away from a crowd

  • Refuse to walk

  • Not responding to your cues and signals (if they are normal)

“You never know exactly how they’re going to react, so it’s important to watch your dog’s body language closely,” she says.

And if it’s time to tuck it in, that’s fine. Come home, make a bowl of dog-friendly, air-fried, and fat-free popcorn, slip under the plushest blanket, and continue celebrating the season by watching Halloween movies.

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