Spook-tacular Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe and Happy this Halloween! Dog looking worried by sounds of door knocking and trick or treaters. Image of a door with a
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15 Top Tricks & Treats To Training Your Dog For Halloween


15 Top Tricks & Treats To Training Your Dog For Halloween

Halloween can be a brilliantly fun and festive time of year. There are pumpkins to carve, costumes to plan and spooky decorations to hang.

But what about your dog? So many things about Halloween can be problematic and challenging when you have a dog. It’s a night full of novel, strange and downright scary things that your dog may never have seen or experienced before. The loud noises, eerie decorations, and unusual costumes can be overwhelming.

When considering how you can get ready for the spookiest time of year and prepare your dog with confidence, here at AbsoluteDogs we know how important it is to be proactive and train FOR the situation, so that you can be your dog’s best advocate and set them up for spooktacular success this Halloween season and beyond.

With some positive games-based training and thoughtful precautions, you can ensure that your dog has a safe and happy Halloween. Keep reading for some top tips, tricks and treats and super solutions to help keep your dog safe and happy this Halloween.

Should I dress my dog up for Halloween?

Wanting to get your dog involved in all the spooky festive fun might seem like a brilliant idea, and a great way to get some great snaps or funny videos to share on social media, but it’s really important to consider whether your dog is going to be happy and comfortable being dressed in a Halloween costume.

While some dogs may embrace the idea of wearing a festive outfit, others will find it terrifying.

When deciding whether to dress your dog up for Halloween, keep these top tips in mind to be sure you’re putting your dog’s needs first.

Trick or Treat 1

What do stress signals look like in your dog?

Watch for signs your dog is uncomfortable or stressed. From playing keepaway when the costume appears, to panting, freezing, growling or snapping, your dog may give very clear cues that they aren’t happy with the idea of getting dressed up. If you already know your dog gets worried about wearing their regular walking equipment, a Halloween costume should be a definite no. 

Trick or Treat 2:

Is your dog's halloween costume too spooky?

Keep in mind that spooky costumes can inhibit your dog’s natural movements and body language, making it harder for them to communicate effectively. A dog dressed as a pumpkin or a spider could unintentionally alarm or frighten other dogs, which could result in challenging interactions and negative experiences.

Trick or Treat 3:

How Can You Safeguard Your Dog's Optimism?

Have you ever noticed how much attention your dog gets when they’re dressed up? Suddenly, everyone wants to interact and come and say hello. Is that something your dog enjoys? Be really mindful of putting your dog in situations they won’t enjoy or don’t have the skills for. Guarding your dog’s experiences makes you their very best advocate.

Trick or Treat 4:

Are you asking the right questions?

Is the costume safe and comfortable? Even if your dog is the most chilled character and happily embraces the idea of getting dressed up, it’s vital to think of their comfort and safety first and foremost. Are there dangling attachments your dog might be tempted to chew or that could pose a choke hazard? Is there anything your dog could accidentally get tangled in? Is the costume going to cause your dog to overheat? Even if your dog is the most enthusiastic pumpkin or monster, never leave them unattended in a costume.

How To Boost Your Dog's Optimism

More than any other holiday, Halloween is perhaps the one that brings with it the most novelty. From spooky costumes and creepy decorations randomly appearing in people’s gardens, to all those extra knocks on the door, Halloween is full of strange and creepy goings on.

If your dog is worried by novelty and startled by things that appear out of place or look different, imagine how much they might struggle when their home or walks are suddenly filled with spooky distractions and worrying displays.

Everything in your dog’s world could be good or bad, friendly or scary, depending on their level of optimism. Some dogs are born optimists, while others are naturally more pessimistic in their outlook. Your dog’s level of optimism can influence how they feel about everything, from meeting new people and dogs to handling everyday situations like vet visits and car rides.

Halloween can be a test for even the most optimistic dogs, so keeping in mind what situations you expose your dog to and playing games to boost their optimism will set them up for the very best success this spooky season. Check out the following top tips.

Trick or Treat 5:

Novelty Surprise Party, anyone?

Prepare for Halloween in advance by throwing your dog a spooktacular novelty surprise party! A Halloween twist on one of the super optimism-building games you can find in the free AbsoluteDogs Optimism Rocks eBook

This is a brilliant way of pairing spooky novelty with a positive outcome. You might just start with a single novel item or two and build up to a larger pile, but the aim of the game is to simply scatter some of your dog’s daily food throughout your pile of spooky items and allow your dog the freedom to forage and investigate. This is a great game for dogs who are worried about novelty and noise because it allows them to control what they are experiencing, all while being rewarded with yummy food – pairing those sights, sounds and sensations with something great.

When you play this game, remember to use objects which are safe for your dog to interact with - and supervise at all times.

Trick or Treat 6:

Help Your Dog With Distraction Mark Treat aka DMT

Pair spooky sounds and hair-raising novelty with a calmly delivered positive outcome. One of our favourite optimism-boosting games is DMT, and at this time of year, every creepy distraction and hair-raising howl is an opportunity for DMT! The magic of this game is that it allows you to change your dog’s emotional response to distractions, replacing fear or worry with a calm, positive emotional response and an ability to see them as nothing to be spooked by.

Step 1. The first step is to teach your dog the significance of your marker word. Working somewhere without distractions and where you know your dog is going to be able to focus on you, say your marker word (eg, “Niiiice” or “Gooood”), and then calmly deliver a piece of your dog’s daily food allowance. 

Make sure you pause briefly after saying your marker word before you deliver the food. This teaches your dog that when they hear your word, a positive outcome (some yummy food) is going to follow. 

Step 2. Repeat this until your dog has learned to associate your marker word with the positive outcome that follows. You want to see them orient towards you when they hear your special word, in anticipation of that treat. This will show you that your dog has made the connection.

Step 3. Now you can start to pair your marker word with distractions. Notice a distraction (even ones your dog hasn’t noticed), say your marker word, and follow up with your treat (food). Start with easy distractions that don’t worry or over-excite your dog.

Step 4. Once you and your dog have practised this a lot at home with easy distractions, you can start using it in real life and with more challenging distractions. The ultimate aim is to pair your calm marker word with those spooky villains and bewitching distractions in the environment and change the way your dog feels about them, boosting their confidence and helping them learn to disengage (move away) from things that worry or excite them.

Create a Safe Space

One of the most important aspects of setting your dog up for success at any time of year is having a safe space they can hang out calmly, away from holiday hustle and bustle. Here are our top tips for teaching your dog to be calm and settled and helping them embrace some chill-out time!

Trick or Treat 7:

How Can Boundary Games Help Your Dog?

Here at AbsoluteDogs we love Boundary Games - and at this time of year they are brilliant for helping your dog relax around chaos, visitors and the novelty of Halloween and for keeping their nose and paws out of trouble! If you’re new to Boundary Games, our free Boundary Games eBook gives you a super step-by-step.

Trick or Treat 8:

How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Ready?

Preparing your dog in advance for being able to chill out away from visitors or the chaos of Halloween parties, trick-or-treaters and scary movies will make your festivities way less stressful for everyone involved. 

Your dog does not need to be part of the action all the time – but you do need to invest in this beforehand. Don’t expect to shut your dog away for the first time when you have a string of children dressed as witches and ghosts knocking at your door and assume they are going to be OK with that! 

If your dog struggles with spending time away from you we have some super strategies in our Separation Anxiety in Dogs – The Dos and Don’ts blog post.

Trick or Treat 9: 

What Can You Do With Your Dog During Halloween?

Giving your dog a safe long-lasting chew or stuffed Kong can help them relax when Halloween festivities get a little eerie. 

Making sure your fridge, freezer and cupboards are stocked full of healthy calming activities for ‘in-the-moment’ – when the hustle and bustle of Halloween is in full swing – is so important for promoting your dog’s calmness and giving them something to do when things get a little spooky.

Adding some Calm-K9 (from AbsoluteDogs' sister company A-OK9) to your dog’s daily food is a brilliant natural way to provide some extra calming support. 

Trick or Treating Etiquette

Trick or Treaters can very quickly fill your dog’s stress bucket, especially if those visitors are dressed as witches, ghosts and other spooky creatures!

If your dog tends to bark at spooky noises or jump up at visitors, it’s going to be important to plan ahead and minimise opportunities for them to rehearse those less appropriate behaviours.

Trick or Treat 10:

Get A Halloween Door Sign For Your Dog

Popping a sign on your door to discourage people from knocking can be a great way of guarding your dog’s optimism and minimising all that stress.

Why not print off one of our free AbsoluteDogs spooktactular door signs and hang it on your front door with a selection of goodies for any Trick or Treaters who do drop by?

Download the free AbsoluteDogs Bark No More Playbook for more super tips to help stop your dog barking.

Trick or Treat 11:

Is chocolate toxic to your dog?

Chocolate and other Halloween treats can be toxic or dangerous to dogs. Keep all your Trick and Treat goodies well out of your dog's reach, and contact your vet if you suspect your dog might have got their paws on something they shouldn’t eat. Boundary Games will come into their own here too!

Trick or Treat 12:

A Halloween Cookie Recipe For Your Dog

Your dog doesn’t need to miss out completely on the festive fun. Why not cook up a batch of Halloween treats and have them on hand for when you need to DMT a spooky sound or reward a spontaneous moment of calmness?

Bake a batch of Pumpkin Peanut Butter Bones for your dog’s tastiest Howl-oween ever!


  • 220g pumpkin
  • 90g flour
  • 1 tsp peanut butter (xylitol / birch sugar / artificial sweetener free)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 egg


  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C
  • Add chopped pumpkin to boiling water and cook until soft
  • Drain away water and mash pumpkin
  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend to make a thick batter
  • Spread and smooth mixture over your silicone treat mould (mini bone-shaped ones are perfect for Halloween!)
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until crispy
  • Once cooled, pop out of the silicone mould and into a container for storage in the fridge

The Perfect Dog Training Games For Halloween

We can’t forget games! Here at AbsoluteDogs we don’t need any excuse to play games with our dogs. Play is truly powerful. It teaches skills, boosts relationships and makes learning fun. In fact, play is your dog training superpower!

Incorporate Halloween twists on your favourite games for some spookily good fun - and skill your dog up at the same time. Check out three eerily good options below!

Trick or Treat 13:

A Fun Activity For You And Your Dog

Place apple segments into a bowl of water so that they float and encourage your dog to “bob” for them. This is great for building confidence and optimism, and boosting your dog’s grittiness in the face of challenge.

Trick or Treat 14:

How To Help Your Dog Become More Confident

You may be familiar with The Cone Game, a super optimism game which is also the foundation of a dog who is happy wearing a muzzle. In this spooky twist, use a witch’s hat, Halloween candy bucket or even a spooky mug and reward your dog for confidently and happily popping their head inside. See the original version of the game on our YouTube channel: How to prepare your dog for MUZZLE TRAINING!

Trick or Treat 15:

Pumpkin Patch Dog Training Game Explanation

How many different behaviours can your dog do with a pumpkin? Test their flexibility by seeing if they can place their front paws on, use it as a pivoting object, wrap it and touch it with their nose.

Looking for more games to boost your training and add joy and variety to your dog’s days? Games Club is dog training gamified, with solutions for every struggle - and you can jump in right now!

With the right approach, Halloween can be an enjoyable time for both you and your dog. By playing games, boosting those all-important concepts and giving your dog the skills needed to be resilient to novelty and spooky goings on, you can set them up for the very best success.

Above all, remember that your dog's comfort and wellbeing should be your top priority during the spooky season. Happy Howl-oween!