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Halloween can be a dog’s worst nightmare. Scary strangers will ring her home’s doorbell every five minutes, and she’ll be forced to wear an irritating costume. Worst night ever!

Your dog really can love Halloween. She can wear a costume she loves, and enjoy the attention that comes with it. She can calmly lay on her blanket while the funny-looking kids come and go.

Here’s your guide to relieving the two biggest sources of stress for your dog on Halloween – so she can have fun too.

The Halloween Doorbell Dilemma

Imagine the calamity – your doorbell rings, and your dog goes NUTS – like always.

You’re reaching for the candy bowl, tripping over your dog. As you open the door, and your dog sees those scary masks and hears that screechy “TRICK OR TREAT!!!” she might just try to run out into the street.

So there you are, holding back your anxious dog, while you try to hand out your KitKats. Utter calamity!

You’ll need to teach your dog how to calmly react to doorbells, or she’ll react in the most natural way she can – by freaking out.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, go into training mode every time someone rings your doorbell. You might also want to enlist a friend to ring the doorbell while you work on your dog’s doorbell manners.

Whenever the doorbell rings, have your dog sit or lay down – preferably far from the door, on a blanket or in her crate.

Do NOT open the door until your dog is where she’s supposed to be. She needs to be calm, and sitting or laying in her designated spot. You may need to use treats and a leash at first. Most importantly, you need to be calm yourself!

No, your dog doesn’t have to HATE her costume!

Whenever I take out one of Matilda’s outfits, she gets really waggy and jumps around. As I start to put her outfit on, she sits politely and lifts her paws so I can adjust her straps.

It’s not just the diva chihuahua in her – by making clothes fun for her, I’ve taught her to love getting dressed up. You can do the same!

My best piece of advice? Compliment your dog. 

The moment you pull out the costume, don’t start thinking about how you’re irritating your dog – because you don’t have to be. Don’t think you’re going to have to struggle and persuade her to keep it on for just a few seconds. Remember, your dog can love dressing up – you just have to show her how.

When you pull out that costume, say, “Wow! What a wonderful costume! You’re going to look so beautiful in this!”

I like to think my dogs love compliments. It’s more likely that a cheerful voice tells them something good is about to happen. Or… they may just be divas.

As you put your dog’s costume on her, praise her for being so patient.

Continue to praise her once the costume is on. Tell her to sit. Avoid giving her a chance to start biting and tugging at her outfit. If she starts to struggle out of her clothes, try to distract her with a game or a toy.

If that doesn’t work, quickly take it off, and praise her – yes, again – wearing clothes needs to be a totally positive experience for your dog. Never scold your dog for trying to get out of her clothes. Don’t force it.

Also, choose an appropriate costume.

Avoid hats and headpieces, unless your dog is a seasoned dresser-upper.

Matilda bee hat

Matilda’s bee costume comes with an antenna hat that squishes her ears, so we only had her wear it for a few moments for photos. You can tell she’s uncomfortable here – but so gosh darn cute.

cow flower halloween costume

Cow has never worn clothes before, she got a tiny flower to wear on her collar.

Alright, you’ve seen our costumes, let’s see yours!

Post your cute Halloween pics in the comment section below!

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.