Top Halloween Tips for Fido


How to get your best friend through the scary season by local dog trainer Leigh Siegfried of Opportunity Barks.


(Special thanks to Dr. Caroline Patten, owner of Liberty Vet Clinic, for pics of her costumed patients!)

Ghosts, ghouls and goblins at your front door or passing on the street. Creepy plastic hands clawing their way out of your neighbor’s front yard, er, graveyard. This time of year there are decorations and costumes that may stir a bit of laughter or fright for humans and dogs alike.


Here are our top tips to keep things low key for your pooch this Halloween season.

If you have a barker and you want to host Trick or Treaters.

  • Put candy outside in a big cauldron to avoid door knocks and doorbell rings and to maintain you and your dog’s sanity.
  • And treat your pup to a big ole’ frozen beef bone to chew and self soothe while the random kocks and rings occur at the door. Having your dog crated with a chewie or hanging in a bedroom with a closed door can also be helpful depending on how much your dog may assume the role of “sentry” on Halloween night. This is 100% recommended if you have a dog that has had a history of aggressing towards guest in your home or upon entry — remove your dog, don’t risk it.


Help!  There are weird decorations and people in costume and my dog thinks his safety is at stake.

  • Place your body between your dog and all things odd. This helps them feel safe as you pass and makes sure that a seven year old dressed at a ghoul won’t steal their soul.
  • Take treats on a walk to be prepared with a bit of a reward if needed.
  • Reassure or rub down your dog when they properly move past an odd decoration that they hesitate around. And once they relax to your touch, then move on.
  • Encourage them to check out and investigate something that spooks them- gentle touch or offering a treat for bold moves is a great gesture and inviting them to investigate will build a coping skill versus avoiding for the rest of fright night.


My dog could care less about any Halloween weirdness.

  • Ok, great! And if you have a friend with a dog that is spooked easily, then buddy up for a few walks. Having a confident doggie co-pilot can be helpful to a pup or older dog that is more easily spooked.
  • Then get to work on a costume for your dog and see if you can score some treats on Howl-o-ween or at the East Falls Fall Fest :)!


Leigh Siegfried is owner and Training Director of Opportunity Barks, Behavior and Training.  Opportunity Barks offers private lessons, group training classes, workshops and day school training programs for dogs at their new East Falls location.

Opportunity Barks
3510 Scott’s Lane
Suite #3112
(next to East Falls Glass Works on Scotts Lane)

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