While we might love a spooky holiday, sometimes Halloween can be a bit much for our furry friends. It’s especially hard on dogs that are family-focused and not very fond of strangers. Even if it’s only kids dressed up in cute costumes, the ringing doorbell or knocks on the door could send some dogs into fits of barking. Here’s what to do with a protective dog on Halloween.

Why Do Some Dogs Bark a Lot? 

There are many reasons that your dog might be barking. They might be alerting you that it is dinner time and you are 4 minutes late, or they could be barking at someone coming up the drive. 

No matter the reason, it is important to remember that not all barks are aggressive or worrying. Barking is natural for dogs and is one of the few ways that they exercise their voice. The trick to understanding why your dog is barking is to learn to read their body language

How to tell what a barking dog is feeling:

  • A barking dog that is backing up with their tail tucked is either frightened by the situation or scared of a person or animal nearby.
  • Barking with hackles standing up (the hackles are the hair on the back of the neck and over their spine) means your dog is feeling angry, worried, and ready for danger.
  • When dogs bark with their butt in the air and their heads down low, they are feeling playful. 
  • Yips or howls with no tense body language are often how a dog attempts to have a conversation with you.

Protective vs. Aggressive Dog Behavior

Protective dogs will often be wary of the situation and may bark at new people or environments. However, before they act, they will look to their human for signals. Your behavior determines whether they should continue being scared or wary, or whether they should accept the new situation. 

Aggressive dogs think that everything and everyone is a threat. They often feel scared, and will not look to their human before they decide if they need to defend themselves. But even though there is a big difference between protective vs aggressive dog behavior, both of these types of dogs are considered reactive.

Reactive dogs are not always dangerous—with careful training, love, and proper care they can become our best friends. But holidays like Halloween can be hard on them—sometimes the best strategy is to keep them distracted in order to stay calm. 

How to Keep Your Dog Calm on Halloween 

1. Set up a quiet zone.

Find the point your house furthest from the door, and set up their bed or crate there for the night. Your dog’s favorite snacks and toys will help to keep them on that end of your home. Closing them in will also help prevent any accidents like your dog getting out when you pass out candy. 

2. Greet trick-or-treaters before they ring the doorbell.

Try sitting outside for the night, or stay close to the window and open the door with a boo before they have a chance to ring the bell. 

3. Get some extra exercise.

A nice long walk, an intense game of catch, or even mental stimulation like a puzzle toy, can help tire your dog out for the night. If your dog feels tired they (hopefully) won’t have the energy to bark all night long. 

4. Train your dog ahead of time.

Throughout the year, try offering your dog a treat every time someone knocks at the door or rings your doorbell. Giving your dog something tasty to eat (or something fun to play with, if they are not food-motivated) is a good way to change their behavior. 

All Pets Deserve Excellent Veterinary Care

Whether they bark a lot or not at all, our furry friends deserve the best veterinary care. At East Valley Animal Hospital we are here to help all dogs live the healthiest and longest lives possible. We’ll gladly take the time to answer any questions you have, including what to do if you have an overly protective dog. If you live in the Gilbert area, contact us today to schedule an appointment.





Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/23/23). Photo by Don Agnello on Unsplash.