Dog Halloween | There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are turning and pumpkins are popping up all over the place, Halloween is right around the corner. While it’s a festive and fun event for adults and children it can be downright frightening (literally!) for your favorite canine kid.
Here are 3 things you can do to keep your dog safe and happy during the days leading up to and after Halloween:
Pet Parades: Keep your dog home if your dog hasn’t been socialized to a wide variety of people. Be aware of loud sounds (think marching bands and fire truck sirens) and crazy costumes. While we humans understand that it’s “only a costume,” our dogs see the scary ghosts, ghouls, goblins and monsters as real beings. Even the friendliest, most lovable creature can immediately want to retreat or lunge and bark (or worse) at something that scares them. Summon up the emotions you feel when scared and have empathy for your dog.
Dog Halloween Events: I’m not a person who dresses my dog. The exception is the occasional bunny ears at Easter and reindeer antlers at Christmas. However, before I do so, I appropriately condition my dog to each of those articles. So should you if you want your dog to wear a costume of any sort. Here’s a brief description of the steps.
It’s all about classical conditioning, the costume “makes food happen!”
Have your dog beside you when you open the costume package. Place the costume on the floor where he can see it and feed yummy treats while he’s looking at it. Pick it up and move it behind your back, all food stops. Bring it into your dog’s view, feed yummy treats. Repeat 10 times. After you do this for a couple of days, place the costume on the dog (don’t fasten it or put it on, merely place it lightly on the dog’s back for a few seconds and feed treats. Remove the costume, all food stops.
Repeat this process 5 or 10 times daily for a few days. Then slowly increasing the length of time the dog halloween costume is worn. After a few days, you should start seeing some excitement in your dog’s behavior when you bring out the costume. If so, then you’re ready to fully put it on him or fasten it. Once it’s fastened, feed him some yummy treats or play his favorite game, then remove the costume. Gradually increase the length of time your dog is wearing the costume.
All That Candy
Too much sugar isn’t a good thing for people or dogs. However, chocolate can be lethal for your favorite furry friend. While chocolate candy really doesn’t have much real chocolate in it, remember to keep all candy out of harm’s way. Even sugarless candy that has the artificial sweeter, Xylitol, in it can be toxic for your dog. The same goes for grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts. If you have Trick or Treaters at your home, please scour your front yard to pick up all inadvertently dropped candy. Call your vet or the ASPCA poison control hotline 888-426-4435 if you’re concerned about something your dog has eaten.
Here’s to a safe and Happy Dog Halloween for canine and human alike!
Lisa Lyle Waggoner is a CPDT-KA, a CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer), a Pat Miller Certified Trainer Level 2, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior, a dog*tec Certified Professional Dog Walker and the founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. She enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as offering educational opportunities and distance consults for clients, dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S. and Europe. www.coldnosecollege.com