Tips for a Dog-Friendly Halloween
Halloween (not Howl O’Ween!) for Your Dog
There’s no doubt that Halloween can be a scary time for our four-legged friends who can’t be cajoled with a chocolate bar when the night holds too much trick and not enough treat. Here are some tips for making your dog a happier little pumpkin on Halloween night.
- Stranger Things
Remember that everything from humans in strange costumes to decorations to giant blowups in the yard are novel objects to your dog. Take some time to introduce new (and potentially scary) objects in advance, slowly and deliberately. Try out your costume with your dog first. Then, give your pup rewards for showing relaxed behavior and good recovery responses.
- Read between the lines
Pay close attention to your dog’s body language when he first encounters a startling new sound, tactile sensation, or apparition. Some particular signs to watch for are jumping, being slow to approach, pinned back ears, and tongue flicks. These are all signs of distress or fear.
- Play it cool
Do not pressure your dog into a new encounter. Never drag him into a situation he is unwilling to check out. Give him time to explore novel objects from different angles and sides. Be matter-of-fact in your tone of voice, and remember to give treats to reward relaxed behavior.
- To dress or not to dress?
There are arguments on both sides of the doggy costume question, and while asking your pup to wear human clothes, a hat, or other gear may help your pup adjust to body handling, the key is to keep it brief. Make certain the costume is comfortable and allows for normal mobility.
- Door manners
If you’re going to insist that he greet trick-or-treaters with you, take it slowly, and practice having a stranger come to the door first. The goal is for your dog to remain calm and unfazed by the potentially frightful parade of ghosts and witches…and excited little children. Keep those dog treats handy for “good boys!”
- Candy is NOT dandy
Keep your dog away from human treats, especially toxic chocolate and potentially fatal xylitol, an ingredient found in sugar-free candy. Canned and cooked pureed pumpkin are healthy, but never give raw pumpkin.
If strangers, doorbells, and costumes (oh my!) create too much stress for your dog, Halloween may be the perfect time for lights out and a quiet crate! Happy Halloween!