Halloween from your Dog’s Point of View
Halloween is one of the most exciting events of the year for children, but what do our dogs think about it?
Dark nights, knocks on the door and doorbells ringing, noise, scary costumes, fireworks, toxic food can all add up to quite a lot of stress for a dog.
Remember that the first few months of their life, the critical socialisation period, is when puppies learn what’s safe and what should be avoided. After this, anything novel is more likely to provoke fear. Lockdown puppies and some rescue dogs may be more unsettled about visitors because they didn’t experience this in the first few months.
Scary costumes will be novel to many dogs, regardless of their early beginnings.
Dogs have lots of ways to tell us when they want to avoid something. Look for lip licks, tight closed mouths, yawning, turning their head away, panting. It’s important to listen to these whispers so they don’t have to shout (growl, snap). Google ‘dogs in Halloween costumes’ and you will see lots of examples of dogs who are stressed.
Preventing Dog Bites and Reducing Stress
If your dog already barks like crazy at the doorbell, start dropping a high value treat on their bed when they hear the noise, then answer the door without them. Over time, a ring at the door will predict a treat rather than a situation they need to deal with.
Walk your dog early. Go somewhere quiet where they can do lots of sniffing rather than high adrenaline chasing. Sniffing produces calming chemicals in the brain whereas adrenaline takes time to recover from making it harder for them to relax
Set up an area for your dog to settle in, as far away from the front door as possible and put the radio on. If there’s a chance a door will get left open, use baby gates to prevent escape.
Prepare chews and stuffed Kongs in advance. Chewing and licking are soothing, calming activities for dogs.
Don’t feel guilty about excluding your dog from children’s parties. Much like most adults, if they could speak, most dogs would choose downtime with a chew over loud, excited children!
Most dogs don’t enjoy costumes. If you want to take Halloween pictures which include your dog, how about adding stickers to your photo or teaching your dog a ‘paws up’ on a pumpkin!
If you live in the New Forest or Southampton areas of Hampshire, get in touch to find out how I can help you via the contact page