Halloween is known for tricks and treats but keeping your dog safe and stress-free doesn’t have to spook you! Here are a few simple steps to keep your four-legged friend happy and healthy during this festive holiday.
No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not the dog. Chocolate in all forms — especially dark or baking chocolate — can be very dangerous. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause health issues. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian immediately.
Costumes: If you’re planning to dress up your dog, be sure to have him try on the costume before the holiday. Make sure that it doesn’t impair mobility, sight or ability to breathe and that it doesn’t include any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces.
If your dog is stressed, manage it like you would any other stress, and first make sure that you’re not anxious; your dog will synchronize with you, so make sure to use that to their advantage.
Second, lighten the mood with the usual “this is fun” attitude and, of course, give lots of treats and rewards!
If your dog doesn’t acclimate well to wearing the costume, considering only putting on some pieces at a time to lessen the stress bit-by-bit. If the costume is truly too much for him, you may want to skip it altogether.
Warrior Canine Connection holds special Halloween-themed training classes in advance of the holiday and encourages puppy parents to dress up their service dogs in training as a trial run.
Keep dogs inside the house: With your door constantly opening and closing to greet trick-or-treaters, it’s a good idea to keep your dog inside on Halloween night. Putting your dog in a crate can help reduce stress and prevent him from darting outside the door.
Halloween can also be a good training opportunity; presenting your dog with plenty of positive reinforcements while seeing the strange visitors approach your door will give him exposure to new stimuli. However, trainers caution that if you sense uncertainty or fear, you should provide your dog with more space between it and the ghost or goblin at your door and reward him with the highest-value treats. It is important not to force your dog to go past their threshold of success.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!