Though we have no reason to assume that dogs hate Halloween, their behavior leads us to believe there are aspects of this holiday they strongly dislike. Halloween is a fun time for kids and adults alike; however, there are many different practices that take place during the festivities that can make even the soundest dog feel ill at ease. What are some of the reasons dogs seem to hate Halloween?
Is Halloween Scary for Dogs?
Some dogs do seem to express fear and distress when trick or treaters start making the rounds. Here are some of the most common reasons dogs might find Halloween scary at worst and a source of frustration at best:
- Being dressed up
Let’s face it; Halloween costumes for pets are completely adorable. However, rarely do dogs find these outfits as amusing as we do. Most dogs don’t enjoy being dressed up, and some actually hate it. Some dogs will spend their every waking minute rubbing up against things in an attempt to break free from their Halloween costume while others simply use their body language to communicate they prefer being “au naturel.”
- Being startled by props that move and make noise
Halloween is a great time for putting up some unique props on the lawn to help youngsters get in the spirit of the holiday. Today’s Halloween decorations and props often make noises and move at random, something that can be very distressing to dogs. Though humans are easily able to discern between what is real and what is fake when it comes to Halloween props, this is not the case for Fido who may perceive that that talking skeleton head is actually alive and a cause for serious concern. Many of these props can cause dogs to become severely distressed. It is best to keep dogs far away from these items to help them remain calm and stress-free during Halloween.
- Being left home while the kids are out for a walk
Dogs don’t understand why they can’t accompany their families on what appears to them to be a nighttime walk on Halloween. Though it is best for Fido to stay indoors to avoid things like scary props, costumes, and masks, he might not see it this way; instead feeling like his family is out doing his favorite thing while he’s left to mope at home.
- Being surrounded by treats the dog can’t eat
Halloween is a holiday that is filled with tasty treats, and many of them are not safe for dogs to consume. Chocolate, in particular, is a favorite candy that is in great abundance during Halloween. Since chocolate is toxic to dogs, these treats must be kept far out of the reach of dogs who would be only too happy to sample a piece of two. Many children are not that careful about where they place their trick or treat stash, meaning it can be much easier for a dog to gain access to a sweet snack that may end in a trip to the emergency vet.
- Hearing a lot of unusual noises
Many dogs take pride in watching over their home and hearth to keep their families safe from danger, both perceived and imagined. Unfortunately, Halloween is a night when unusual noises are the name of the game, leaving Fido on guard and ready to pounce all night long.
- Hearing the word “treat” a lot but not getting any extras
Dogs are incredibly intelligent. Experts note that most dogs are able to recognize and respond to approximately 165 words. Treat is every dog’s favorite word, being right up there with walk and car ride. Since merry costume wearers appear at the door sharing a hearty “Trick or treat” for each homeowner they greet, dogs are hearing their fave word a lot, but they aren’t getting any extra rewards for it. This can cause most dogs to feel very frustrated when their interest in piqued, but no treats are forthcoming.
- Seeing a lot of strange and frightening masks
Generally speaking, dogs are uncomfortable when something obscures a person’s face. This means masks are a definite no no for dogs. Rubber face masks, whether they depict a pretty nurse, a political figure, or a creature straight out of a horror movie—all look the same to a dog and all elicit the same response: fear and discomfort.
- Hearing the non-stop peal of the doorbell
For most dogs, the sound of the doorbell is cause for a rouse of barking. Some dogs associate the doorbell with family and friends that are coming for a social visit. Others may consider the doorbell the sign of an intruder like the mailman, a door to door salesman, or someone delivering a package. Either way, the non-stop ringing of the doorbell means dogs are on high alert throughout the night. Staying in this state for a continual period of time can cause dogs to become seriously overstimulated. When this happens, the dog may react aggressively. Some dogs become so upset by the constant noise that they are unable to settle until Halloween night has come to an end.
- Seeing odd and unfamiliar costumes
Dogs like routine, and Halloween is definitely a night when normalcy is in short supply. Dogs know what human beings should look like; however, during trick or treating, they are exposed to many different people dressed in unusual costumes. Some costumes may come complete with extra arms or legs and even props such as hats, canes, and more, causing dogs to feel confused and afraid. Costumes that distort a person’s silhouette can also lead to feelings of stress and anxiety in dogs.
What are Some Things I Can Do with My Dog on Halloween?
It’s always a great idea to come up with an alternative activity you can do with your dog during holidays that leave your dog feeling stressed, anxious, or afraid. Here are a few tried and true ideas to keep Fido cool as a cucumber on Halloween:
- Leave a bowl of candy and a note on your front porch for trick or treaters
You can still participate in the fun of Halloween without having to have your dog feel distressed. Simply fill a bowl with Halloween treats and leave them by your door or on your front porch with a sign inviting trick or treaters to help themselves to a treat and to please not ring your doorbell or knock on your door. This allows you to bring some happiness to the lively trick or treaters out for a night of fun without causing your dog to feel anxious.
- Put your dog in an area of the house where he or she cannot hear the doorbell and trick or treaters
Sometimes the act of removing your dog from the situation that causes him anxiety is the best way to help him remain calm. You could also book your dog into a boarding kennel for the night, allowing him to have some fun with some new canine friends and a get good night’s sleep before his return home the next day.
- Play a favorite TV show or some music and provide your dog with something to nibble on
Creating some white noise through the TV or some music can help drown out the sounds made by happy Halloween revellers. Give your dog a raw meaty bone, a fun interactive toy, or a Kong stuffed with delicious treats to unearth, and your dog will most likely be blissfully unaware of the Halloween festivities going on around him.
Why do dogs hate Halloween? It’s a night of many unusual experiences for our best canine pals. With a little ingenuity, you can enjoy participating in the fun of Halloween and keep Fido calm and stress-free too!