Halloween is in the top 10 for popular holidays celebrated here in America. So be prepared - especially if you live in a busy neighborhood, and the stresses that might trigger your already mentally sensitive pooch.
For this first blog, let’s focus on a possible stressful situation(s).
1. “My dog loves people - especially children!”
Answer: That’s wonderful, but does your dog see the same children that love and play with your furry kid 364 days a year wearing costumes during their play? Chances are, the answer is, “no.” How should you overcome this? If you plan on giving candy whilst sitting outside, test your pooch and see how she reacts to the mask, face paint, costumes etc,. However, please don’t push your dog towards the children/family; this could potentially cause your dog to act out and snap at the person.
Pay Attention- To Body Language: Ears will be erect and oriented towards the person(s), tail might be up; However, the tail may or may not be wagging, eyes will be focused on the individual, and the muscles around the eyes will be bulging, coat on top of neck/back will be standing on end; there might be other signs, but these are the most common. Test your dog’s focus by speaking calmly to the dog. If your dog refuses to listen or look at you, the dog most likely has shut down and is nervous and could potentially become unpredictable. This is a sign your dog looks at the situation as a threat. Please don’t let the children approach the dog. You should go to the child leaving the dog behind to observe your interactions with the children. If you are still adamant on getting your pooch closer to the “object”, ask the adult if the child can throw a treat towards the dog to “break the ice”. This could help “soften” the dog towards the strangers wearing weird stuff. Keep this up and hopefully by the time you all are about to run out of candy, your pooch might be calmer. This might seem as if you’ve been unsuccessful, but you have just introduced the dog to a training method that could help your dog overcome her/his fears of hats, hoodies etc,.
2. “My dog is afraid of doorbells”.
Answer: This is a quick fix: let the trick or treaters ring the doorbell, BUT make sure you have someone in the house to distract the dog with an activity or treat. In this situation, please don’t over-stimulate the dog. It can actually backfire and cause the dog to regress if you’ve managed to train the dog not to over react to daily sounds (i.e., car motors, kids playing/laughing, delivery people). If the pup is extremely uncomfortable with the constant ringing of the doorbell or door knocking, or if you are unable to calm the dog, don’t let the trick or treaters ring the doorbell and/or knock. You just might need to stand/sit at the door and wait for the kids to come by.
Final note: be proactive and practice scenarios prior to the Day of Halloween, and see if you can find solutions to overcome possible uncomfortable issues you might experience with your fur baby.
Please, please, have the dog(s) on a leash if you plan to take the dog outside while you give out treats. The latter is common sense and keeping the dog and humans safe.
Happy Spooky Tails 👻🐾