‘Trick-or-treating’ at Halloween has become a tradition in Canada, the US, United Kingdom and Ireland and has brought endless fun to kids of all ages. Lots of sweets and candy, dressing up in scary costumes and knocking on peoples’ doors can be fun for humans - but what about our dogs?
How do our canine friends cope when the doorbell constantly rings with visitors, there are bowls of tempting treats lying around, and their owners are wearing crazy disguises?
Halloween can be a confusing time for dogs. It's easy for them to become overwhelmed and anxious - but there are things that you can do to prevent your dog from being spooked.
14 HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT YOUR DOG BEING SPOOKED
In your home
- Make sure your dog has had a long walk during the day before the celebrations begin. Remember though, that some people may decide to start early and could already be dressed up, so make sure you are able to distract your dog with a treat or a favourite toy in case you have any spooky encounters!
- At home, make sure your pooch has a safe and secure place as far away from the front door as possible. In a different room with the TV playing would help, but remember that dogs have very sensitive hearing so will probably hear the doorbell ringing. Making their bed in a crate with comfy cushions and covers over the top will help to muffle any sounds. It may also help to give your dog a chew toy or puzzle feeder to distract them, or have someone (in normal clothes!) stay with a nervous dog to keep them reassured.
- In the same room, plug in an ADAPTIL Home Calm Diffuser to help your dog stay calm. ADAPTIL releases “comforting messages” to create a safe and secure environment for your pooch, particularly in situations they are uncertain of, like loud noises or new visitors. And during Halloween - where we can expect the unexpected - providing your dog with reassurance is more important than ever.
- If you don’t have a separate space, consider keeping your dog on a lead so they can’t escape when you open the door. This will also help your visitors feel less intimidated if they encounter an excited pooch but don’t force your dog to interact with any visitors.
- If you are dressing up too, make sure your dog is in the same room so that they can see what you are putting on and give them plenty of time to sniff and investigate this ‘new you’.
- If your dog gets over excited when the doorbell rings continuously, leave a note on your door asking visitors to knock (rather than ring the doorbell); your dog may be less sensitive to a knock.
- However, if your pooch is showing signs of excessive anxiety, you may find it necessary to avoid the celebrations, and turn off all lights to discourage visitors - or leave a box of treats away from the door so people can help themselves.
- If you plan to join in the fun and visit other houses, try to make sure someone stays at home with your dog so that they can be reassured when necessary.
- If you are confident to take your dog out with you Trick or Treating, keep an eye on them to make sure they are comfortable with all the noise and spooky encounters. They should be wearing a reflective vest or collar so that they can be seen clearly in the dark - some people are wary of dogs and may make sudden noises that startle your dog. Ensure you keep your dog on a lead at all times.
- Do not take your dog up to someone else’s front door - the owners may not welcome them, or there may be a resident dog which will object to another dog encroaching on their territory.
- Be aware of any sweets or chocolate on the ground which may have been dropped. These can contain xylitol (which can be fatal for dogs). If you think they may have eaten something which they should not have done, contact your vet to get them checked out immediately.
- Similarly, there will be a lot of chocolate and sweets at home after the celebrations, so keep these well out of your dog’s reach.
- Be extra cautious with Halloween decorations and keep them out of your dog’s way, particularly if your dog is naturally inquisitive and likes to chew things - for example they may mistake a glow stick for a toy, but this contains chemicals which could be harmful.
- Think carefully before you dress your dog in a Halloween costume; although they might look cute to you, they could be uncomfortable for your pooch and even affect their ability to communicate. They may even try to scratch them off their body and ingest some small parts that could harm them.
Outside of your home
Make sure you take precautions to help your dog stay calm and serene during Halloween and any other national celebrations by using ADAPTIL but if you are concerned about how your dog will cope, speak to your vet or behaviourist for advice and follow our top tips.
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