It’s that spooky, creepy, yet fun time of year again for us humans where Halloween decorations are everywhere around us.
But have you ever stopped to wonder what all of these decorations do to dogs?
Like, do dogs get scared of Halloween decorations? Or do they not mind them?
Or, here’s a crazy thought – do they even want to play with them?
Tell you what, during my time as a professional dog walker and pet sitter but also as a dog owner myself, I experienced all three behaviors!
So in this blog post, I’ll tell you about a few dogs and their different reactions to Halloween decorations, along with tips on how to help skittish dogs be more relaxed.
Do Dogs Get Scared Of Halloween Decorations?
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Dogs Who Are Not Scared Of Halloween Decorations
Some dogs are as brave as they come and couldn’t care less about the eerie decorations in, on and in front of people’s homes during Halloween.
That would be my previous dogs Missy & Buzz, as well as my current pup Wally.
Missy & Buzz were Boxer mix littermates who came into my life when they were just 8 weeks old. Both were completely unfazed by Halloween decorations.
They didn’t even mind the sounds that some of them made! And as you can tell by the picture below, some of our neighbors truly went ALL out with their decorations…
Wally, my Feist mix, came into my life after a second cancer diagnosis took Missy from me for good, and Buzz moved in with his Daddy after our divorce. He was a little over 1 year old when I adopted him.
Whenever he sees any Halloween decorations (and Christmas decorations too by the way!), his nosy doggie nature takes over and he HAS to investigate the creature!
The video below features him with a Halloween witch:
But also former client dog Stanley, a longhaired German Shepherd.
He was one of my weekly dog walking clients. His owners bought him from a breeder when he was 12 weeks old.
For dogs like Missy, Buzz, Wally and Stanley, Halloween season was/is just another month filled with excitement and adventure.
Dogs Who Are Indifferent To Halloween Decorations
Some dogs fall into the category of indifference when it comes to Halloween decorations.
Bailey, a mellow mutt, is one such example. Similar to Stanley, Bailey was one of my daily dog walking clients for many years – 5 to be exact!
She didn’t display any fear around Halloween decorations, but she didn’t particularly engage with them either.
I will say though that when I started walking her, she was a bit shy around Halloween decorations. Christmas decorations, too. Back then, she was about 6 months old.
When I noticed, I made sure to bring some treats along and gave her some whenever we walked past them.
I also told her what a good, brave girl she was, and ever since that very first Halloween and Christmas season of hers, she no longer cared about any of the decorations.
Dogs Who Get Spooked By Halloween Decorations
On the other end of the spectrum, some dogs are easily spooked by Halloween decorations.
Lila, a timid but lovable Pekingese mix, is a prime example of this group.
Lila was one of my pet sitting clients, and whenever people were starting to decorate their homes for Halloween, Lila became visibly anxious on our walks.
She would tuck her tail between her legs and VERY slowly and carefully investigate some of them.
In the picture below, you can see her slowly inching forward towards some Halloween graveyard tombstones:
Shih Tzus Izzy and Lulu are two other dogs who got spooked by Halloween decorations, both inside and outside.
They were my former Mother in Law’s dogs.
They were pretty skittish overall, so anything large and unusual looking made them uneasy – including my dogs Missy and Buzz!
Below, there’s a picture of them visiting with us:
Why Do Dogs React Differently To Halloween Decorations?
Well, it depends on the dog and their level of socialization!
Dog socialization is when you help your dog get used to different things and people so they grow up to be happy and well-behaved pets.
It’s like giving them lots of experiences to make them feel comfortable and not scared of new stuff.
- Going to different places
- Hearing different sounds
- Meeting different people and dogs
- Getting used to being touched and groomed
When Missy & Buzz moved in with me at 8 weeks of age, I went ahead and created a puppy socialization list that I worked hard on checking off!
That said, it’s important to make these experiences fun and not too scary.
Socializing your dog when they are young helps them be more relaxed, friendly, and not afraid of new things when they grow up. For example, Halloween decorations!
Check out my blog post on 6 ways to socialize your puppy here.
Tip: But even when you socialize your dog as a puppy, ongoing socialization throughout their adult lives is still important, too!
Tips To Help Skittish Dogs Be More Relaxed Around Halloween Decorations
Helping skittish dogs feel more relaxed around Halloween decorations requires patience and understanding.
Here are some tips to create a comfortable environment for your furry friend during this spooky season:
Start decorating early and introduce decorations one at a time. Allow your dog to get used to each item before adding more.
Gradually expose your dog to the sounds and sights associated with Halloween, such as recorded spooky noises, to help them become more accustomed to them.
Bring tasty dog treats and favorite dog toys that distract from the scary skeletons, tombstones and weird looking creatures. Use praise to reward your dog when they approach or show curiosity without fear.
For the treats, I recommend slightly smelly ones like freeze-dried Beef Tripe Nibs by Vital Essentials because they’re better at distracting than odorless ones.
Remember, a dog’s sense of smell is much more powerful than ours, so I suggest you use it to your advantage! Another high value dog treat I swear by are the freeze-dried herrings by Icelandic + (Amazon link).
Tip: You can also find the herring treats on the Icelandic + website.
Calm and Reassuring Tone
Speak to your dog in a calm and soothing tone to reassure them when they encounter new decorations.
Skip The Dog Costume
If your dog is generally skittish around Halloween decorations, I recommend you skip the costume. Yes, it looks cute, but if your dog will be stressed out while wearing it, what’s the point?
If anything, have them wear a Thundershirt to ease their anxiety!
Avoid Overwhelming Halloween Displays
Limit the number and intensity of decorations, especially moving or noisy ones, to prevent overwhelming your dog.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation during Halloween season to help reduce anxiety.
Of course, when you’re walking outside, it can be more difficult to avoid Halloween decorations altogether.
So try to make those October walks as pleasant as possible and see about walking with dogs who aren’t scared of the decorations.
Their calm behavior may very well rub off on your scared pup!
Do Dogs Get Scared Of Halloween Decorations: Bottom Line
So, do dogs get scared of Halloween decorations?
The answer varies from one dog to another. While some, like Missy, Buzz, Wally and Stanley, remain unperturbed by the spooky decor, others, like Lila, Izzy and Lulu, can get easily spooked.
That’s why it’s crucial for people to gauge their dog’s individual temperament and adjust their Halloween celebrations and decorations accordingly.
Remember, for dogs who are easily spooked, you may want to minimize your inside Halloween decorations as well as the outside ones on your property to keep them from becoming overly anxious.
Happy Howl-o-ween, y’all!
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