On Halloween, my dog, Bailey, and I will be hiding out in our room, watching the 49ers game, while my sister is posted outside, doling out treats to the visiting goblins. That’s because Bailey is a huge football fan, and second, the constant ringing of the doorbell sends him into barking fits.
If you’re wondering about how to keep calm at your house, here are some tips from Jen Krasner, a dog expert and co-founder of Goldn, a web site that dispenses advice via texts on living your best life with your dog.
Preparing for the evening
• Disable the doorbell for the night or simply man the open door so you’re aware when visitors are present.
• Consider enlisting a friend or family member to distract your dog with playtime, treats or frequent walks.
• In addition, have a buddy — someone your pup is comfortable with — give treats to your dog when someone comes to the door. Have your buddy, at a fair distance from the door, give treats and verbal praise to your pup. (If you live in a neighborhood with lots of visitors, consider other options so you don’t end up giving your dog too many treats.)
• If your pup becomes too stressed, refusing the treats, take him or her to their safe place far away from the front door.
• Trick out your pet’s favorite safe-haven in your home by adding chew toys, blankets or bedding. Try to isolate this area as much as possible from the front door noise and check on your pet frequently to make sure they’re doing OK and let them know you’re fine, too.
• If your pup is really in distress, leave the candy outside in a bowl for a self-serve option that doesn’t include doorbells or strangers.
• Make sure your pup doesn’t get into any of the human treats — candy can be highly toxic to dogs, especially those that contain xylitol or chocolate. Wrappers are also very dangerous for them. If they do get into the candy, call poison control (1-800-222-1222) or go to an emergency pet hospital.
• Keep inedible objects such as glow sticks and small costume accessories out of their curious reach — those can be dangerous as well.
Walking your dog
• Walk before it gets dark to avoid encountering trick-or-treaters.
• Keep the dog on a short leash, and cross the street to avoid costumed groups or individuals.
• Keep plenty of dog treats on hand. If you come upon some costumed strangers, get your pup to focus on you by giving plenty of treats. If they seem stressed or scared, cross the street and put as much distance between them and your dog right away. Stop the treats once the individuals have walked away. Resume the treat fest only in the presence of other trick-or-treaters.
Halloween can be a stressful time for our dogs, who see their role in life as protecting the household from strangers encroaching on their territory. Please be mindful of that.