With Halloween coming up very shortly, it’s important that we don’t forget our furry friends in the revelry.
I love Halloween is one of my favourite things ever. That and Christmas are my real holidays if you know what I mean.
And whilst I love it and you probably do too, sometimes our dogs don’t enjoy it, right?
Some dogs are more nervous than others. Some dogs don’t necessarily enjoy the masks, they don’t enjoy the doorbells, they don’t enjoy all the things that make Halloween fun for us weird humans.
I wanted to spend a little bit of time with you today and go through the Halloween thing and break it down into digestible sections so that you can focus on the things that are going to be a bother for you.
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Halloween & The Ever Scary Doorbell
Let’s start with the dogs that are more anxious by nature. Most of these dogs tend to have a problem with doorbells stop there.
Right now it’s going to be too late to doorbell train your dog. Because you can do that. I don’t know if you knew that. But you absolutely can. So if your dog reacts to the to the doorbell, like does he or she the insane guard dog bark, bark, bark and tries to seem really totally terrifying, you can resolve that.
That is something that you can train for.
I can show you how to do. But that’s not something you’re going to achieve in time for Halloween this year.
An alternative for parents whose dog wants to bark at the doorbell, it could be a really good idea for you to set up basically an honesty box outside with the halloween treats that you want to give away. Put a little sign up saying what, Ah, whatever. And that way your doorbell doesn’t get wrong. I mean, yeah, okay, it means that you’re not gonna see Halloween costumes and the goal being a little bit less social. But sometimes the safety and the anxieties of our dogs need to come first.
If you do want this to be a part of your life? Maybe this is the highlight of your social calendar (like it is mine!) and you want your dog to be okay with the doorbell on Halloween (and other occasions, multipurpose this training!), make a pledge to yourself that this year is going to be the last year that you are not social and you are going to take care of your dog.
You are going to stay home and you are going to pop the treats outside in the honesty fashion. And you are going to train for this time next year. Okay? And I will hold you to that because if you don’t do it, I’m gonna get you… (kidding!).
Whilst it is a bit of an avoidance technique, if it means that our dogs aren’t stressed out at the end of the night, that’s a good thing, right?
Sometimes short term wins can facilitate long term gains!
Chocolate, Sweets, Candy & Your Dog…
And the next one really obvious one.
Chocolate, Sweets, Raisins, Nuts, Halloween treats, sweets, candy.
whatever you want to call them often come with a whole bunch of problems if your dog gets into them.
So if you do have kids and you are going trick or treating or you’re going to have kids visit and your dog doesn’t care about doorbells, but might be inclined to snaffle out of a suitably seasonal cauldron that you leave beside the door in a nice festive fashion and steal whatever they fancy? This one is for you.
You might be best to remember that chocolate, raisins, artificial sweeteners are common ingredients in a lot of Halloween treats.
If you can buy if you want to purposefully buy treats that have none of those things. In good for you, that’s a really good way to go. Or we can just make sure that they stay out of reach of pup. And that goes for anything that your kids may bring home to. So make sure that they are, hopefully try at least two. Keep get your kids to be responsible. And if they’re too young to be responsible, make sure you’re responsible for them.
There’s no excuse, okay? Because we don’t need emergency trips to the vet. That’s just not that’s not in the spirit is it and also, it’s going to work here with a nice bill and put your dog silly avoidable risk. So let’s do it. Let’s not do any of those things. And let’s just be normal or nice and sensible about these things.
If your pup does get into something please call the ASPCA’s Poison Hotline (888) 426-4435
Your Dog & Halloween Costumes
Okay. costumes. Now, I am entirely freaking guilty of this. I love making my dog look like an eejit.
I love making him look daft and putting, you know, costumes on him and making him like be a part of the experience. But Indie’s find that it? Indie has been desensitised to it massively. And he’s very, very happy to take part.
Some dogs are not, for example. My hounds are not fans of anything costume-related.
I tried to put a little headband with antlers on for Christmas. They were really small, and for Christmas last year on Shelby because she’s like, perfectly coloured for it. but no, we were not having any of that.
At that point I had to realise that Shelby (along with Lucy who was equally unamused) have both been banished to festive bandanas and collars.
If you do have a dog who is more sensitive to wearing things, and they don’t like to participate in these sorts of holidays, cause and bandanas are usually a fairly offence free way of including your dog. I mean, it does mean that you aren’t going to get that wickedly awesome shot for instagram. But is it worth compromising your dog’s happiness to get that shot?
As far as I’m concerned, no. And excuse me, um, and especially when you consider what Photoshop can do these days, it’s not even funny.
I know somebody who’s got a black German shepherd. And she takes like a normal picture of her German Shepherd in some place that looks kind of spooky. And she will like Photoshop in fog, horns, elongate teeth, she’s great.
You can find people that do that on Fiverr for something like 10 bucks.
So if you really want that, maybe save the money on the costume and spend it on Fiverr instead, and get the picture of your dog that you’ve always wanted. And get the picture without upsetting your pup! Win win!
So please be conscious of costumes for your dog to wear. And if your dog or puppy do seem uncomfortable, just take them off.
Don’t don’t put them through it, it’s not worth it.
If you’re unsure of what fear looks like in your dog, Lili Chin’s Doggie Language gives a fantastic guide!
Your Dog & People In Costumes
And then there’s people in costumes, people in costumes, and in masks, especially, like costumes that make people look bigger than they are all while like costumes with a lot of movement can be suddenly quite terrifying to dogs.
If you are getting people coming around your house, whether they are trick or treating, or whether you are hosting the biggest Halloween party in your neighbourhood, and you are famous for doing so, it might be best to just pop pup away for the evening.
Make sure that pup has some ways of calming themselves down of self-regulating and that everybody’s told just leave pup alone.
Okay, I know it feels miserable. But think of it like have you ever had that friend that just doesn’t want to do Halloween, they don’t enjoy it or they don’t enjoy Christmas. And no matter what you do, you aren’t going to change their mind.
So you just kind of have to accept it.
Think of that weirdo-friend as your dog.
It’s also good to remember that adding in stress to our dog lives often results in undesirable things. And one of those undesirable things, sadly, is the inclusion of teeth.
Our dog’s last line of defence is their teeth, and they will use them should they feel threatened. And In instances like this, especially when you’ve got people who might not necessarily know dogs, or understand dogs to the side same level that you and I do. It’s a risk.
Whether you’ve got a chihuahua or Great Dane, it really doesn’t matter. A Bite is a bite. So let’s not have bite incidence on Halloween, please, let’s just make sure that everybody is safe, happy content and all of our guests’ party or trick or treat or whatever, remain happy and content.
If you want to include something like that in the room that they’re left in and make sure that they’ve got some little enrichment toys going on, and nice comfy that they’ve got their bed in there and you know, just set them down and make sure that they are happy and content is complete.
Okay, that seems like a fairly simple thing, right?
Then this one’s a little bit left field, but on the instance that they do get scared.
Don’t Get Spooked… But If You Do…
On the instance that you do take your dog out with you. And he insists that they get scared, please make sure that you do have their ID up to date. If you’ve moved, or changed your number? Just go get the tag updated.
For fear of anything happening, it takes two minutes, you can head into your local pet shop usually and they will have a tagging greeting service right there.
It will mean that if your dog does get away from you, like I don’t know why you would but saying you you give your puppy his leash down for two seconds and he goes and chases the cat but say it so that happens say I don’t know a car backfires and they scalp and that’s that they don’t, you’ve got a chance to get them back. Right. So takes two minutes, it means that they are safe and secure. And that they are as well covered as wecan possibly make them. Which is really, really important.
And Happy Howl-oween!
So in summary Halloween, I want you to make a promise to yourself if you have a doorbell, reactive dog that next year you will have them trained, okay. And I want you to pop your treats outside with an honesty system and avoid people ringing the doorbell for your own sanity.
If you are having a party, make sure that pops popped away if pup is not sociable or easily overwhelmed. Especially if there’s going to be big scary costumes in there because some people love to go all out (I am one of them!). We can use licky toys, long-lasting Chews and various other things to make sure that they can keep themselves calm and entertained whilst your shindig is going on.
Make sure that all chocolate, artificial sweeteners, nuts and raisins are kept out of pups reach.
If you are buying treats and candy and sweets and things for Halloween, maybe consider like if you particularly if you’ve got a dog that is liable to just snag stuff from wherever they are. So if they are inclined to steal things off the side, just try and buy stuff that is dog friendly so that at worst, you know that that is just going to give them the squits, which might not be pleasant, but at least it’s not a trip to the vets!
And then when it comes to costumes be sensitive about your dog and whether they actually want to wear one.
Lastly, just make sure that their ID tags are up to date. Please It’s one of those things that’s like a really basic thing of owning a dog. But it’s always it’s something that gets overlooked very, very quickly.
And that way? Your’e all going to have a wonderful Halloween!
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021’s worlds’ best pet blog!