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Five Reasons Your Dog May Hate Halloween

Updated on October 16, 2016
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Does your dog Love or Hate Halloween?

When any festivity is around the corner, it's quite normal to want to include our four-legged companions and celebrate with them. Dogs now get Santa Bow Wow stockings hanging by the chimney, they get cute Valentine cards (to rip up in pieces) and they even get to go on Easter egg hunts. For Halloween, dressing up pets is one of the most popular ways dog owners include their dogs in the celebration. However, at times things can get a tad bit out of hand when we start anthropomorphizing too much, giving dogs human traits that are not in their nature. Dogs do not have a concept of celebrating like we do, what they often feel during festivities is chaos, changes to their routines and exposure to new or unusual stimuli that may cause uneasiness. Feelings of overexcitement, nervousness and anxiety are not uncommon.

Sure, it's fun to dress up dogs in costumes and take them along for trick-or-treating, but let's first ask dogs what they really think about wearing costumes and their overall thoughts about Halloween. After interviewing a few canines, we found out the top things dogs hate about Halloween. Don't mean to be a party-pooper, but this information was too interesting to keep for ourselves so we're sharing them in this post.

Reason 1) Please Don't Let me Wear that Weiner Costume Again!

Top Reasons Why Dogs hate Halloween.
Top Reasons Why Dogs hate Halloween.

Sure, your dog looks cute in that costume, but does he really like wearing it? If you watch him carefully,and read his body language he's probably sending "hate" statements left and right.

"Get that thing off of me!" says Rosco the Boston terrier as he shakes his fur as he usually does after being given a bath. When dogs scroll their skin like that, they're typically trying to remove something from their bodies. Whether it's water after being given a bath, dirt after sleeping on the ground or that silly hat you put on his head, this signal is pretty clear.

"What's that thing on my back?, I want it off!" says Missy, the poodle, as she repeatedly keeps turning her head around and rubs her body against people's legs and furniture.

And what about Oscar, the corgi? He says "please don't let me wear that weiner costume again!" But since he can't really do anything about it, he poses for the picture just to make everybody happy.

Dogs as such are not being party poopers, they just don't really understand costumes and since they don't wear them for about 364 days a year, it's natural that, when Halloween day arrives, they're caught unprepared. Wearing costumes is odd, bothersome, and can even be stressful for sensitive dogs. Sure, there are dogs who may not seem to mind them much and who actually like the trade-off attention they receive when wearing a costume, but many dogs have a hard time coping, especially if they weren't given a chance to get used to wearing it several days prior.

If you want your dog to wear a costume for Halloween, watch him closely and see what he's saying. If he repeatedly shakes his body, shakes his head, scratches himself, rubs his body around, growls, yawns, licks his lips, shows whale eyes, stops moving or starts panting, chances are he's feeling quite uncomfortable. Sure, your dog may get used to it by the end of the day, but he's not really having fun, especially if he's wearing a costume that impairs movement.

Tip: If you really want your dog to wear something, consider that some dogs have an easier time wearing a festive bandana around their collar rather than a full-body costume.

Reason 2: Weird Beings Populate the Night

When dogs are puppies, they need to be socialized to people, other animals, children and other stimuli that they'll likely encounter in their future, but rarely, are masks, costumes and eerie looking people included in their repertoire of exposure stimuli. So when Halloween is around the corner, it's quite normal for dogs to feel on edge when they see all these eerie looking people walking down the neighborhood, and worse, even coming into their homes!

Bella, the terrier mix says " I don't normally like people near my property, let alone odd looking people that seem like they come from another planet!"

Brutus the mastiff says: " Halloween is a stressful night for me, I don't feel safe at all with all these weird looking creatures, but what's worse of all is that my owners don't understand me, and even scold me for barking at them! Gosh, I was only trying to protect my turf and family!"

Finally, Missy with her dilated pupils says: " Eeeek, I think I just saw a zombie!" as she runs to hide under the bed.

Tip: dogs are better off kept in a quiet, calm room on Halloween night. If possible, use a room that doesn't allow any access to outdoor visual stimulation or use a room where you can close the drapes. You can give your dog a stuffed Kong so he can stay occupied. Masks and costumes can be scary as dogs don't understand there's a person behind the mask. A dog's reaction may range from fleeing to barking or even attacking a person, so best to play it safe!

Reason 3: Need to Pull Guard Duty and Work Extra Hours

Calming Music for Dogs

As if dealing with ghostly figures, zombies knocking at the door or ringing the doorbell wasn't enough, dogs reported to us that Halloween night leaves them exhausted from all the commotion going on.

Bear the Rottweiler says: "I spent the whole evening barking while my owners were out having fun. People were screaming, knocking on the door and I saw odd figures walk by my house. I pulled guard duty and worked over time."

Dottie the Dalmatian says "I couldn't sleep all night, our neighbors had a party and the noise was unbearable, please let me get my dose of daily sleep now, OK?"

Tip: If your dog is normally left outside, you may want to keep him indoors the night of Halloween. All that activity going on may stress him out. Not to mention, people playing pranks. If it's particularly noisy, you can play a calming CD such as Through a Dog's Ear" which is made specifically for dogs.

If your dog is reactive towards the doorbell, you can disconnect it for the evening or stay outdoors so there's no need for trick-or-treaters to knock or ring the bell. Some dogs may require calming aids such as DAP infused collars, Thundershirts or Calming Caps.

Reason 3: Lots of Treats, but Nothing for me!

Halloween means lots of treats for the kids, but dogs don't get nothing of all of that (hopefully!) Whether it's Hershey bars, candy corn, or Chupa Chupas, for Halloween night there will be lots of candy around. It will be laying around in bowls, the kids will be eating it and grandma may be baking her famous chocolate fudge cupcakes with eerie decorations.

And then there is Rover, sniffing candy wrappers, trying to gain access to candy in bowls and trying to steal something from a filled-up child's pumpkin pail.

Gunny the German shepherd shakes his head in disbelief and remarks: "It's terrible, everybody seems to be enjoying candy, and I am left drooling helplessly."

Clara the cocker spaniel claims: " You know what? Usually, all I need to do is look at my owners with languid eyes and they will share whatever they are eating, not this time though. Halloween seems to make people stingy."

Roscoe says " Gosh, all I hear is the words "trick" and the word "treat." I tilted my head all day in hopes of performing a trick to get my treat, but not today."

Finally, Milly the Lab says as she shakes her head, "Halloween brings bad memories to me. Last year, I spent the day at the vet's being forced to vomit 'cause I had a chocolate overdose. Not good."

Every holiday seems to bring some sort of danger to dogs. On Christmas there are lights, Christmas ornaments and candles, on Easter there are chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies, and then you have Halloween with all the treats. The biggest dangers in dogs are chocolates and sugar-free candies.

The issue with chocolate is that it contains caffeine and theobromine, two compounds that are poisonous to dogs, explains veterinarian Dr. Eric Barchas. The most troublesome types of chocolate are dark chocolate and unsweetened baker's chocolate, but milk chocolate can also cause trouble if consumed in large amounts. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity in dogs may range from nervousness to seizures, irregular heartbeat and even death.

Sugar-free candies are troublesome as they contain artificial sweeteners such as xylitol. Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free gum, sugar-free candies and several baked goods. While xylitol is pretty safe for humans to consume, it's extremely toxic to dogs. According to VCA Animal Hospital, symptoms may occur within 10 to 60 minutes of ingesting products made with xylitol and affected dogs can develop low blood sugar and liver failure, which left untreated, can even lead to death.

The dangers don't end here. Corn on the cob, a common Halloween decoration is sometimes gobbled up in dogs and if the swallow it without chewing, the chunks can cause an intestinal blockage. Also, any time a dog consumes something different from their regular diet, they risk developing an upset stomach with copious vomiting or diarrhea. Not a great way to spend a festivity.

Tip: if you really want to involve your dog in the festivity, then why not bake him some treats or buy some dog treats made with carob for dogs? Carob is as close you can get to chocolate but without its dangerous side effects!

Reason 5: We are Given Less Attention

Halloween may be a fun festivity for the kids, but Rover thinks it a bit differently. Dogs are creatures of habits and don't like it when there are many changes going on at once. Whether it's wearing a ridiculous costume, being told repeatedly to stay out of the way and hearing people repeatedly knock at the door screaming at the top of their lungs" trick or treat!", Halloween can be stressful for man's' best friend.

Being secluded in a room away from the hustle and bustle may be a good solution for the time being, but Rover will be glad when it's all over and he is back to his routine of being around his family. Before concluding, let's give our last words to the dogs.

Spot says: "I can't wait for Halloween to be over, I am left alone for most of the day."

Bobby the boxer says: "I spend the whole day barking my lungs out at all these people passing by my property."

Bingo the beagle seems to think it differently, he says: " I really love seeing people in my house, don't mind them coming over, but when I decided to dart out of the open door, all the fun was over and my owners told me I am bad and locked me up."

Pete instead feels neglected, he said "I was getting loads of attention when my owner made me wear a pink tutu but when I took it off, nobody paid attention to me. Why can't people like me "au naturale and enjoy me when I am wearing my birthday suit?"

Of course, dogs don't express their feelings in such as way, but for sure for many dogs Halloween is a far cry from being the day filled with fun we may hope for. Sure, there are real hams who don't seem to mind wearing a costume and mingling with the crowds, but it's always best to play it safe and prevent dogs from being exposed to overwhelming or unsafe situations.

With this mind, wishing a Happy Howl-oween and a Happy Wag-O'-Ween to all!

Alexadry© all rights reserved, do not copy.

Does your dog love or hate Halloween?

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© 2015 Adrienne Janet Farricelli



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    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      3 years ago from USA

      Lipnancy, so true, I can see them saying something like that. Too bad we can't hear their thoughts, but their body language says it all!

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      3 years ago from USA

      Thanks Bob, good typo catch! I fixed it, thanks!

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      3 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Your pictures are absolutely wonderful in this article. The dogs are cute in the costumes, but they just look at you and seem to be saying, "Why are you doing this to me?"

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 

      3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Fun way to present important information, Adrienne. I always do a "Halloween Dangers" feature in my weekly newspaper column and after 21 years, it's still an effort in futility. The pet supply stores are full of costumes, social media are abuzz with ideas and pics, and fundraisers connected to Halloween usually have a "best costume" contest, etc. But, I see a lot of dogs who tolerate the costumes, too. I the body language and if the dog resists, don't force him to wear it. BTW, the bot in me picked up a typo in the speech balloon in the 3rd picture. Given the option, I would have voted up, useful, funny and interesting.


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