Halloween is a particularly challenging holiday for some dogs. It presents the stimuli that can make dogs crazy with alarm and reactivity: a doorbell ringing constantly; the dog’s humans – sometimes with scary hats and wigs – running to that door repeatedly and opening it wide; truly terrifying masks and costumes on little people who yell things and sometimes even step inside (!); baskets filled with food to sample and guard, resulting in scolding; and a neighborhood populated with skeletons, pumpkins and soundtracks that would make even resilient dogs batty.

There are a few strategies that can make all of this a little less harrowing:

1. Walk your dog well before dusk and try keep her off the streets during the witching hours of 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Take food with you to redirect and soothe your dog past scary props. Cross the street if you encounter young children making early rounds.

2. Don’t take your dog trick-or-treating. She will be much happier and safer at home.

3. Some dogs are okay about doggy costumes, but others might be stressed by them.

4. Back home — identify a familiar, comfortable area (not the cold garage or dark basement) as far from the activity as possible and provide background noise –television, radio, and white noise – to muffle the doorbell and conversations. Keep your dog there for the duration of the evening. Don’t let them be free in the house with access to that front door.

5. If your dog has historically been very frightened, talk to your veterinarian about the possible use of anti-anxiety medication.

6. Feed your dog her dinner and additional treats through long-lasting puzzle toys. Prepare filled and frozen Kongs with baby food, yogurt, canned food slurry or kibble mixed with anything yummy. Provide one at a time to keep up her interest.

7. Make sure your dog is wearing her collar with all your contact information just in case she does get spooked and runs away.

If you sometimes feel that holidays were created with canine angst in mind, you might be correct. These steps can help you both get through the evening and set the stage for the next in line – Thanksgiving!