A nervous chihuahua panting.

We like to call one of our dogs the Pillow Princess. She does not like to go for walks. She does not especially like to go outside. In fact, her ideal day is one where she doesn’t have to see anyone but her own immediate family and gets to stay all day on the couch.

 Because she is so shy, holidays are a tough time for her. The doorbell is constantly ringing, people insist on coming over, and things change around the house.

It’s a tough time to be a shy dog, but if you’re worried about how your dog will deal with Halloween, here’s a guide.

Exercise Where Possible

My dog is a pillow princess, but she can be coaxed to go on a walk. If your dog can be convinced, it’s a good idea to take them out for a very long walk before the night’s festivities begin. This gives them a chance to expend their energy and feel tired, so they’re much more likely to be calm about being sidelined from all the excitement.

If your pet stubbornly refuses to walk or you don’t think it’s safe, mental exercise can work too. Try training your dog to do a new trick or asking for sit-down drills. By exercising their brain, you can help exhaust them in a different way.

Gentle Introduction to Halloween

Shy dogs often need more time to come to terms with changes in their world than the one-day holiday allows. Try desensitizing your dog to Halloween by letting them sniff décor, inspect costumes, and realize hats or masks are not dangerous.

This needs to be done very slowly. If it’s already close to Halloween, you may want to simply remove your dog from the Halloween frivolities completely this year and save some decorations and costumes to work on desensitization the rest of the year.

If you practice with masks, hats, costumes, and décor the rest of the year, your dog will likely be a lot calmer by the time Halloween rolls around again next year.

Safe Space

If you know your dog is not going to handle Halloween well, you’ll want to put them away in a safe place where they will be more comfortable. This could be a bedroom, their kennel, or a quiet back room. The ideal location will protect them from seeing the scary people in costume, guests in the house, or people at the door.

A good space should also have things for your dog to do while they are in the back room. A favorite chew snack or a stuffed kong are great ways to keep your pup busy while you are handling trick-or-treaters.

Dog Reacts to Doorbell? Go outside.

If your dog is stressed by people constantly knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell, consider sitting outside for trick-or-treaters. If you are right outside the door passing out candy, there’s no reason for the kids to knock on the door.

This isn’t always fun for us humans, but it can greatly reduce the stress your pet feels. In fact, simply by being outside to avoid doorbells and limiting what the dog can see out the windows, Halloween can almost be a normal day for them.

Safety First

We can’t plan for accidents. After 4th of July, Halloween is the most common day dogs get lost. Keep ID tags on your dog at all times on this day, block access to the door with baby gates, or otherwise keep the dog away from the door.

It’s very easy for your dog to bolt out the door, and he may end up miles away trying to run from the Halloween festivities. We have a great article here in case your dog does get lost, but this is something that is best prevented from happening entirely.

If you want to be extra safe, the collar you keep your dog’s ID tags on should be a high viz collar.

Halloween isn’t fun for dogs who are easily frightened. These tips should help keep your pet safe and calm this Halloween.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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