Should I Bring My Dog Trick-or-Treating?
Halloween brings candy, monsters, and (best of all) dogs in costumes! It’s tempting to bring your miniature werewolf or Wookie along for trick-or-treating—but will your dog enjoy it as much as you do?
Will Your Dog Be a Good Trick-or-Treater?
As much as we wish we could bring our dogs everywhere, each unique dog shines best in different environments. Some dogs find crowds stressful, while others love the attention! Some dogs are pros at staying right by your side, and some prefer to roam.
Go through this simple checklist and see if you can confidently answer “yes” to every question:
- Is your dog comfortable in crowds?
- Are they unafraid of strangers?
- Is your dog friendly toward children?
- Are they comfortable with people in unfamiliar costumes?
- Do loud noises or sudden movements make them anxious?
- Will they reliably come when called?
- Do they know how to heel or walk on a short leash?
- Are they a pro at not stealing nibbles of human food?
- Most importantly—do you think your dog will have fun trick-or-treating?
If you can confidently tick off every box on the list, congratulations—your dog is likely to be an enthusiastic trick-or-treater! If there are some areas where your pooch might be a little shaky, it doesn’t mean Halloween adventures are off the table. You can start small with any dogs who might be a little uncomfortable or new to trick-or-treating.
Try going early or late in the evening to avoid the densest crowds. Keep your dog close to home so they can easily check out at any time and head back to their happy place for a break. Consider keeping jumpy pets on the sidewalk with you while the kids knock on doors instead of bringing them door to door to reduce meet-and-greets with strangers and potential jump scares from enthusiastic homeowners. Small adjustments can make Halloween night a lot more approachable for your dog!
Should You Dress Up Your Dog?
Look, we know that dogs in pet costumes are the cutest thing on four legs, but there are some things you should consider before raiding the pet shop for Halloween costumes.
Firstly, is your dog happy wearing clothes? Some pups love to be swaddled in cozy sweaters, winter coats, and little snow boots, which is a great sign of their patience with a costume. On the other hand, if you have a dog who tries to tear off a bandana or goes limp in a t-shirt, you should probably scale back on your costume plans.
The good news is that there’s a whole range of Halloween dog costumes that accommodate all comfort levels with dressing up!
For dogs that like wearing clothes, you have a lot of options! Just be mindful about the occasion you’re dressing them for. You can go wild for a doggy costume contest, but if you’re going to be going to a rambunctious dog trick-or-treat event or human trick-or-treating with jam-packed crowds, you might want to skip any costumes with big wings or legs that could impede their movement.
For dogs who are less comfortable dressing up, keep things minimal! A vampire cape that just ties around their neck like a collar might feel more familiar to them than a full shirt. A classic Scooby-Doo collar completes a costume with one strip of fabric! You can also decorate their leash for a little flair that they won’t feel at all.
If your dog’s enthusiasm for costumes doesn’t match your own, consider doing a quick Halloween photoshoot at home before trick-or-treating. They’ll probably be a little more patient for a photo or two wearing their costume in your living room before taking it off and getting to roam the neighborhood with you exactly the way they’re comfortable.
Tips for Dog-Friendly Trick-or-Treating
If you’ve decided to take your dog trick-or-treating on Halloween, we’ve got a few pieces of advice to keep things safe and fun for your pup.
- Keep all Halloween candy far away from your dog! Sugar isn’t great for them to begin with, and chocolate, licorice, and sugar-free candies can be especially dangerous for dogs.
- Bring dog treats with you so you have dog-safe goodies to give them while the kids are getting their sugar rush on.
- Make sure your dog has a clear and current ID tag on them even if they’re in costume! Halloween can be chaotic and you want to make sure they can find their way home if you lose them in the crowd.
- Keep a close eye on your dog’s body language to make sure they’re not getting stressed. Taking them home for a break or for the rest of the night at the first sign of discomfort lowers the chance for any bad interactions that might sour their experience.
You can find more safety advice for Halloween season here!
Finally, if you decide that trick-or-treating isn’t in the cards for your dog, there are plenty of other things you can do together on October 31! Low-stamina senior dogs might enjoy getting dolled up in an extra-cushy hot dog costume and keeping the jack o’ lanterns company on the porch while you hand out treats. Homebody dogs, cats, and people alike can enjoy a night on the couch watching a Halloween dog movie—maybe just skip Cujo this time (sorry, Stephen King).
P.S. Want to find out your pet’s spooky Halloween dog name? We’ve got you!