10 Ways to help your dog easily survive a crazy Halloween - Hanging With HoundsHalloween is a fun holiday for many of us. In fact, for some of us, it is our favourite holiday of the year. For many puppies, though, Halloween is a frightening time.

Many of our neighbourhoods transform with new and scary lawn displays. Giant inflatable lawn creatures move in the wind, motion-activated lights and noises startle you as you walk by. These displays are not something our dogs would have encountered before. As the sun sets, the little ghosts and goblins emerge from their homes, excited to be trick-or-treating around the neighbourhoods. Later in the night, fireworks are often set off. These are the scariest thing of all for many dogs. Our dogs are not prepared for the intermittent noise and will go to extreme lengths to escape to find a safe spot to hide.

How do we enjoy Halloween without terrifying our dogs?

  1. As they say, 'the best defence is a good offence' (or is it the other way around?). Setting your dog up to have a relaxed evening sequestered away from all the turmoil is often the easiest and best approach. Securing them in a room away from all the visitors ensures that they are immune from the craziness. Giving them their favourite chewie means they can hunker down and chew away, while the human family can enjoy the holiday.
  2. Have background music on to drown out the noises. Play the TV or have music going to dimmish the noises coming in from outside. The sound will help minimize the sound of the doorbell, squeals of terror or laughter coming from outside and hopefully fireworks.
  3. Do some proactive training to ensure your dog is okay with the kids' costumes (both young & old). Watch this short video for some tips on how to start training. 
  4. If you want to dress your dog up, be sure that you choose costumes that will not frighten them or impact their ability to see and hear. Be careful that the costumes are safe, that they aren't flammable or include anything toxic that may irritate their skin. Ensure the costume is visible and doesn't have anything that can get caught that might injure them or become a choking hazard. Be proactive by introducing the outfit early so that your dog has time to get used to them. And remember, it should be fun. If your dog isn't enjoying it, don't force them.  Watch your dog's body language.  If you see signs that they are uncomfortable such as lip licks, paw lifts, yawns etc, rethink your choice.  Your dog will look just as snazzy with an awesome bandana or coat and will likely have a better time as well.
  5. If your neighbourhood goes above and beyond for Halloween, use care when walking your dog. Choose routes with less scary decorations and maybe walk during the daylight hours when your dog can see better. If something frightens them, cross the street or move further away so your dog can observe without the scary thing being right in their face. There is no shame in going a different direction or choosing a different walking route for a few days.
  6. Make sure your dog is wearing their identification tags. This is especially important if the dog will be going trick-or-treating with you. Even if the puppy is staying home, with the busyness of children coming to the door, a dog that gets excited or spooked can easily slip through an open door.
  7. If you are taking your dog out to trick or treat, be sure to leave the retractable leash at home. Walk them on a shorter leash to have good control and ensure that their collar and harness fit well so that there is no chance that they can slip out if they are spooked.
  8. If you can't exercise your dog as much because of the scary things, remember to increase the enrichment activities. Shredding, licking, and chewing are all calming activities so make sure your dog is getting more of these activities to help them through this time.
  9. If your dog is having a rough time with it, talk to your vet. This is especially important if you live in an area that has lots of fireworks. It is not possible to prepare your dog for the erratic nature of fireworks. Their hearing is so much better than ours. Sometimes the only thing to do is to talk to your vet about situational medications to help them.
  10. Lastly, and by no mean least, store that valuable candy loot in a safe place.  Our pups have descended from a long line of scavengers.  Candy, chocolate and even wrappers can be a big problem if ingested, causing poisoning, vomiting, diarrhea and even obstruction.  After an evening of trick-or-treating, the last thing you want to do is to visit your local emergency veterinary clinic.

We want everyone to enjoy Halloween. If Halloween is your favourite holiday, by all means, go all out. Just be aware that your dog may not share your feelings. Taking your dog's feelings into account will ensure that everyone will have the best time.

For a fun game to do with your dog, visit the Jack-o-Lantern at this link.

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Need help with separation anxiety for your dog? Hanging With Hounds is based near Victoria, BC. If you don't live near us, you are in luck. We can help dogs with separation anxiety in Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Schedule a quick chat to learn how we can help you.

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