Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love the costumes, candy, decorations, scary movies, and the colors (black and orange). I as a human know what I am okay with and what I will avoid, so I enjoy it. However, you may not realize that your dog has his or her own limits too. We can miss the stress signals dogs show if we do not notice or are distracted. Moreover, Halloween is soon approaching and I want to share some tips to keep your dog safe and help you both have a great time by planning ahead.
#1 Wearing a costume
Dressing up is exciting for everyone but keep in mind that what you decide (a mask, face paint, high heels, hat, or a costume that could make noise) can be stressful. Choosing a costume that is not too scary is ideal and then start wearing it around your dog (for a couple minutes to start with) and see if they are curious, hide, or do nothing. This will tell you how slowly to go with it. If you see yawning, licking lips, avoiding eye contact, or hiding under the table ( just to name a few stress signals) then your dog is stressed out. I would not delay getting that costume and start working with your dog today. Knowing your dog and time are the key issues here so do not rush or get frustrated if your dog is not showing the response you want. This will also help your dog if they are going to be around others in costume on Halloween. This applies to all the other tips I will share.
#1a Your friend, family, strangers wearing a costume
It can be a challenge with just you and your dog regarding how to handle a costume, but if others are coming around for a party, that may be too much for your dog. Start having friends or family wear different costumes and start exposing your dog to it now in small increments. It may seem like a lot of work but taking the time now to set your dog up for success, rather then disaster, will help in the coming Halloweens you celebrate with your dog.
**I will be sharing tips on how to put your dog into a costume for Halloween in my next blog post.**
Theme parties are fun, especially for Halloween, to attend or have at your place. However, as a dog parent you have to consider if having a party at your house would hurt or benefit your dog.
Things to consider:
- the amount of people and their noise
- doors (anyone can come in and out as well as your dog if he/she is loose)
- food ( I will talk about that below)
- kids (if they will be around)
Do you think your dog can handle a party? I would really think about the answer and decide if you can help your dog or if it is better to have a quiet Halloween. Another option is to go to a Halloween party without your dog. You have a great time and your dog is safe. Furthermore, you can find a professional pet sitter or a friend who wants to hang out with your dog as another option.
#3 Trick or Treaters
One of the things I enjoyed as a child was ringing the door bell in my neighborhood and saying,”trick or treat”. This whole process may cause your dog to bark, jump, lunge, or get out the front door when you are helping the kids that will come to your house. There will not be consistent breaks from trick or treaters so that adds to the complication unless you turn off your porch light early or do not have it on at all. As a dog parent practicing how you dog handles the front door and people who come in outside of Halloween is something to work on.
Training Tip: Having a friend, or family member ring the door bell (having your dog on a leash and using some treats to reinforce the good behavior) is a way to start practicing. If your dog can stay in a down or sit position for example, when the door opens give a treat and start with that first. Then add the movement of the person coming in your house to help your dog not just jump or go to them. If they do not then it may take more time to work on each level you want your dog to be successful doing. If you have any questions about this please leave a comment.##
#4 Food Dangers
The temptation of candy during Halloween is hard enough for people, but dogs do not know that finding, grabbing, or knocking over candy is toxic to their health. The best way to keep your dog safe is to not buy it at all. However, that is unrealistic, so keeping the candy high up in a cabinet and away from your dog is the best way to keep everyone safe. If your dog likes to jump up on the kitchen counter, make sure there is no candy around. Also, if you have kids then keeping the candy in a safe area is a good idea as well as telling them that dogs cannot have candy is important too. Finally, I would have the Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435 or aspca.org in your cell phone. I wanted to give you a heads up about the $65 consultation fee that may be applied to your credit card.
Finally, giving your dog breaks is something I think might get overlooked in the planning and actual celebration of Halloween. Your dog relies on you to keep him/her safe and that involves breaks. This can be a stressful as well as busy day for you. If you know your dog gets stressed then breaks need to happen. You cannot expect your dog to handle this day by themselves. Going in the crate, another room, or going on a walk are ways to keep a normal routine and make sure your dog is doing okay. This can be a stressful time so using a product like Adaptil (use the spray to put on a cute halloween bandana around your dog’s neck, or spray it in the room your dog will be kept in there), a food toy like a kong, and calming music in that room too. These are things that can be used during the day or given to your dog to make the experience as positive as possible.
##Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromone mother dogs emit after giving birth to help their puppies feel calm and secure. Dogs of all ages recognize this pheromone throughout their life.##
No matter what you decide to do for Halloween I hope these tips are helpful. Working on positive experiences now will help not just with this holiday, but the other ones that will soon follow. Set yourself and your dog up for success. Happy Halloween. Please comment if this post was helpful or if you have any questions. If you want to set up a time to chat then book a free call with me.