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BITE Prevention for Halloween: 9 Ways to Keep Fangs At Bay

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Dog Training & Care | 33 comments

Have you thought about dog bite Halloween safety? and I’m not talking about vampires, either. Many dogs enjoy the howl-idays. But dogs biting kids happens more often at this time of year than any other.

This is a timely subject so I try to revisit the information every year. I write about this every year because it’s so darned important. With Halloween in the offing, this is the perfect time to brush up on dog safety issues and protect your kids, too.

To give equal time, there are many kitty-centric Halloween myth-teries you’ll find fascinating, especially about black cats.

While nonstop doorbell rings and visitors showering attention may be doggy bliss for your pet, even friendly laid back pooches get their tails in a twist over the disruption to routine. That can be dangerous for the pet—and for the human. Learn more about dog bites and kid safety here.

Halloween Witch

TO KNOW US IS TO SMELL US…

Dogs recognize people by smell but also by sight. He may not recognize a favorite human behind that Halloween mask. Miniature goblins, witches and other ghoulish visitors often are strange children he won’t know. A flowing cape or sparkly fairy wings can be scary. A frightened dog easily mistakes a waving “light saber” or pitchfork as a weapon aimed to hurt.

Halloween is a high-risk holiday for dog bites with children in costumes that scare dogs encountering strange pets on their own turf. And when hero dogs defend themselves, their homes and their people from “space aliens” your child could get bitten. Wolfbane, garlic and holy water won’t help but these tips can keep trick or treaters safe and the dogs happy, too.

devil dog for halloween with owner

9 Tips To Prevent Halloween Dogs Biting Kids

  • Call Ahead. It’s best to plan trick or treat visits with people you know—and ask them about confining their dog before you arrive. Pet “parents” want to keep their “fur-kids” safe, too, and should appreciate your thoughtfulness.
  • Keep Doors Clear. Closed spaces and especially entryways get dogs excited. Your pet will be hyper-protective of doors and gates. So when the kids arrive, keep King in his own room. Advise your children to avoid entering a stranger’s gated fence when a dog is inside—that keeps him from escaping, too.
  • Admire From A Distance. Costumed kids should not approach, touch or play with any dog they don’t know. Even a known pet may be suspicious of a three-foot Sponge-Bob. Cute dogs may be friendly but swipe candy or knock down a toddler.
  • Supervise. There’s nothing better than parents eyeballing their kids and dogs. An adult should always be present when kids and dogs mix. Petting any dog requires permission first from the person who knows the dog best.
  • Ask Before Treating. Candy can be dangerous for dogs. And some owners may not want you to treat their dog with food rewards, either, so always ask. Offering a treat to an unknown dog might tell him you’re a walking smorgasbord open for business so he pesters you—or mugs you—for the trick or treat bag.
prevent dog bites with common sense

Don’t tempt fate! How stooopid is this?

  • Look Away. Should you notice a strange dog, don’t stare. In dog language that can challenge a dog to show you the sharp ends of his teeth.
  • Be A Tree. Loud giggly voices, running, and arm waving can be so exciting to dogs they chase kids out of reflex and perhaps knock them down. So if a strange dog does approach standing still—like a tree—helps keep him calm.
  • Be A Log. Dogs instinctively jump up to check out a human’s face, and that Halloween mask may prove too intriguing. But if your child gets knocked down, coach her to act like a log—roll up and be still—until the dog goes away. Otherwise, a wriggling kid teases the dog to grab the costume—or an ankle—and play tug.
  • Avoid Doggy Gangs. Just like rambunctious kids, when a bunch of friendly well-behaved dogs get together they can egg each other on and paw-step over the line. So give doggy gangs some space. If their approach concerns you, don’t run or yell—stay still. You can sacrifice the candy by throwing it far enough away to entice them to munch while you walk away.

DOGS AREN’T PERFECT–NEITHER ARE HUMANS

Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year with 800,000 individuals—half of them children—requiring medical treatment. Half of all children in the US experience a dog bite by age 12, with 5 to 9-year-olds and boys at significantly higher risk. That’s actually a low percentage compared to other types of injuries, but still scary enough for Halloween. Use these tips and avoid adding to the statistics.

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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

 

33 Comments

  1. Nichole

    Great tips! Some dogs just don’t mix well with Halloween.

  2. Rachel

    These are definitely great things to consider for Halloween! Our dog is definitely set off by the doorbell, but we rarely get trick or treaters in our neighborhood.

    • Amy Shojai

      Exactly. Might be worth while for doorbell anxious dogs to do some counter-conditioning ahead of time, if you think there will be a lot of that over Halloween at your home.

  3. hbethp

    Halloween may be such a fun time for us (I’ve already decorated my windows!!), but not so fun for our pets. Great tips, thanks for sharing.

    • Amy Shojai

      I’ve seen some wonderful decorations! And some dogs love getting dressed up, too. It’s just important to KNOW your dogs and protect ’em.

  4. Rosa Doodle (@RosaDoodle1)

    I really don’t like Halloween because of the impact it has on my dogs. They just can’t handle the noise, door bell, knocking etc. I guess I’m just getting old…

    • Amy Shojai

      I’m getting cranky the longer I live, and I think it’s because we’re smarter–and less clueless. That’s my story and I’m sticking too it!

  5. Ruth Epstein

    Great tips and I say to myself on Halloween thank goodness I live in a building where there are no kids so that means peace in our house 🙂 LOL

    • Amy Shojai

      Yep, even for well adjusted dogs…never mind the spooky pooches.

  6. Paul Kirhagis

    The underlying theme here is to know your dog and be proactive with managing the risks you know are coming. Good post Amy, I wish more folks paid attention to this kind of thing(year round)

    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks Paul. I agree, that unfortunately folks rarely think of such things until AFTER something has happened. 🙁

  7. raisingyourpetsnaturally

    Really good tips. Halloween can be very scary for pets. Keeping everyone safe is crucial.

  8. Meet Dash Kitten (@DashKitten)

    Keeping dogs away from kids should be oglibatory at Halloween, Dogs get excited, kids get excited and things go wrong. We don’t have serious halloween here, unforunately do DO get fireworks.

  9. Kia

    Really awesome tips for Halloween and preventing the fangs from making an appearance! I will definitely be pinning this!

  10. Tenacious Little Terrier

    We very rarely get trick or treaters so I don’t really worry about it. We do make sure the candy is out of reach though.

    • Amy Shojai

      We don’t get them, either, but both Magic and Karma-Kat are eager to test the candy.

  11. Sonja

    So glad I live in a building and the security guard deals with trick or treaters. 🙂

  12. The Daily Pip

    My husband and I tag team with Ruby on Halloween. She is leashed (even inside). One of us answers the door and the other holds her on leash away from the door. Sometimes, one of us stays inside while the other stands in the front yard and passes out the candy.

    Great tips! I especially love stand like a tree and like a log!

  13. Sweet Purrfections

    Important tips to remember! I’m one of those Halloween scrooges who turns off the lights and goes to the back of the house with the girls so they don’t get stressed or escape.

  14. It's Dog Or Nothing (@ItsDogOrNothing)

    These are definitely great tips! We normally hide during Trick or Treat because it’s a lot for guard dogs to handle. We always have fun cuddling up to watch a Halloween movie together 🙂

    • Amy Shojai

      Yes, Magic is very protective and just us opening the front door sets him on alert.

  15. beanparty

    Great post. We are always concerned that one of the pups will slip out of the open front door. They also get stressed when the bell rings over and over, so they are normally tucked away in a quiet room upstairs while the festivities are taking place. This also helps with the humans who may be fearful of dogs.

    • Amy Shojai

      Yes, there are those frightened of dogs and that can make it even worse. For dogs that spend a lot of time outside, it’s also important to be sure the “goblins” don’t accidentally leave fence gates open.

  16. Cathy Armato

    Such critical information! We usually keep our dogs indoors & leashed when trick or treaters ring the bell. Costumes can be so scary to dogs. They can get very anxious with so many people coming to the door. Great advice, sharing!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  17. Joe@BorrowMyPooch

    Hello Amy, this is my first time to comment on your blog. Good advice and tips. My dog even scare to see a camera flashing and she will turn head around when seeing the lens zooming in and out, then, of course, it will be double times scary to see the haunted creatures or so weird looking Halloween custome. Sometimes kids can do a stupid thing and so does the dog. So better keep my dog indoors when all the scary thing appears on the street.

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