A Few Tips to Help Your Puppy and Adult Dog Have a Good Halloween


Halloween can be a tough day for dogs. Masks, costumes and face paint can be confusing, especially for little puppies. I decided to take Quest to Mangelson’s, a costume shop in Omaha to try on some masks during his Critical Socialization Period and make sure they arent something he is fearful of for the rest of his life.

Most people are unaware that dogs are the only animal that can read a human facial expression. Not even chimpanzees have this ability. Just another reason why dogs are so awesome.

This means that dogs can read your mood based on the look on your face. So if you mean to correct a dog and it does something cute in response, you better cover up or hide your smile if you need to send your furry friend the right message that shewing up whatever was not cool.

Since masks are set to one specific expression, they can provoke a response in some dogs. Another common Halloween staple, face paint, can cause confusion which can stress out some dogs.


If you are going to apply make up as part of your costume, having the dog there so you can show them progress (in between each layer, etc) can help them better understand its still you underneath.

If your dog is reactive around a mask, you can try leaving it on the floor (only when attended or you will end up with pieces of a mask, lol) and dropping high value treats around it so it gets comfortable approaching it and getting a positive reinforcer.

If your dog is really spooked when it sees you or someone in your home in a costume, you can try this trick. Put your dog on a leash and go across the room or to a distance where it can see the person in the costume (who is standing or sitting still), but is relaxed enough to sit and take a treat.

Make sure the treat is soft or chewable. Hold the treat up so that your dog is looking at the person in the costume while it nibbles on the treat. After giving it a few treats this way, has the costumed person take 1-2 steps towards the dog then stand / sit in place while you let your dog chew on another treat or two. Once your dog starts to get up out of the sit or ignore the treat, take a break.

When you continue, start at the distance you were at when you took the break. If you think your dog is going to react, dressing up this way a day or two before to practice this treat method can really help.

Last tip is for people dressing up their dogs. Some dogs are totally fine being dressed up. Others, not so much. If you put a costume or anything on your dog and it moves slowly, is stiff and looks uncomfortable, its a good bet its not enjoying things. If thats the case, you may want to skip having your dog play dress up.

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