Halloween can be lots of fun for kids and even adults. But it’s a holiday that dogs may find genuinely frightening. Dogs will encounter many rowdy costumed children, tempting treats and they may even be forced to wear their own dog Halloween costume.
If you have done work on dog obedience training with your dog, this is a great time to use those commands. Skills like sit, down or place can be particularly helpful.
Nothing is more frustrating or irritating than having your dog charge the door when the doorbell rings. During Halloween, this can also be especially dangerous.
So, what do you do? Well, if you have an extra pair of hands (such as a family member) to help you, you can take this time to work your dog on what you’ve already taught him with obedience training. So each time the trick-or-treaters ring the doorbell, you have your dog do the preferred behavior of: sit, down or go to place while someone else answers the door.
I cannot think of a more opportune time to work your obedience training – using all those free, built in distractions. Leila and I do this every Halloween just to reinforce what we want the dogs to do instead of bark at the front door.
So turn on your porch light and get ready early. Work your dog on leash for best results and to keep your dog “in the classroom” so to speak.
As Halloween approaches, also be thinking “safety” with your dog. Here are some things you might not have thought about as you prepare your safety “check list.”
- Walk your dog in plenty of time before trick-or-treaters start their visits. This manages their energy before all the chaos begins.
- Explain to everyone in your home – especially kids – how dangerous candies are to pets. Keep dogs out of the candy bowl.
- Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.
- Make sure the dogs can’t get into the trash. Be aware of dog poisoning from: Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause nerve damage and even death in dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated it is. Raisins are also extremely hazardous for dogs.
- Candies containing the artificial sweetner Xylitol (like sugar free gum) are poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of this can cause symptoms of dog poisoning such as a sudden drop in blood sugar which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures.
- Pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively non-toxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset if ingested by your dog. If they swallow a large piece, it could also cause intestinal blockage.
- Dress-up can be a big stress maker for dogs. Please don’t put your dog in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it. If you do put a costume on your dog make sure the dog can breathe, see and hear and that the costume is flame retardant. Remove any small or dangling accessories that could be chewed or swallowed. No rubber bands – they cut off circulation. Allow your dog to feel safe in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treat hours. Too many visitors can stress a dog.
- If you do allow your dog to go to the door with you be sure to have a baby gate across the opening to prevent someone accidentally letting your dog out.
- At the front door, make sure your dog is on leash.
- Make sure your dog’s ID on his collar is current and ON the collar.
- Keep your dog inside on Halloween do not leave him or her in the backyard. You do not want your dog to be subject to taunting by children or worse.
- Here is one most people do not think of: allow your dog to get used to people in costumes PRIOR to Halloween night.
Your dog may regard his family members as strangers once they put on their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to scent the costumes. Keep masks off while your dog is around. Do NOT allow your kids to scare or taunt the dog while in costume (they should not ever do that anyway)
Halloween is one of our favorite holidays but it is stressful for lots of dogs. Keep your pet’s safety in the forefront of your mind and do not eat too many chocolates. They ARE for the trick or treaters you know 🙂
Remember, Together We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog!
I hope you found this article to be useful. Comment below on what you’re doing this Halloween that might include your dog. Let other’s know about this great info by sharing on Twitter and YOUR Facebook page.
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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients. Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years. One of his clients says it best: There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant. Jane Wagner
(c)Jim Burwell Inc.