Halloween can be a scary time of year for dogs. Unexpected knocks at the front door and people dressed in costumes can be confusing and frightening for them. Read our top tips to keep your dog safe and happy this Halloween…
- Walk your dog before it gets dark. If you get home after dark and don’t have time to walk your dog in daylight, think about fun ways to tire them out in the safety of your home. This could be with food toys, training, or search games.
- It’s inevitable that your doorbell will be going off more than normal on Halloween night, so plan ahead. Stick to your dog’s routine and pre-empt people knocking by preparing lots of things to keep your dog busy, quiet and happy. Separate them from the entrance to your home using a stair gate if this is what would suit them better and they are used to it.
- You might not want your dog going to greet people at the door as the trick or treaters are likely to be children your dog doesn’t know and they won’t know your dog, or necessarily how to act around dogs appropriately. Even if your dog does know the child, children dressed up in ghoulish outfits might look very different to how your dog usually recognises them. This can be awkward - scary even - for your dog. Try to see things from your dog’s point of view.
- If your dog is really worried by people and may not cope with trick or treaters coming to the door, you could put a sign on your gate saying ‘Nervous dog. Please don’t knock on the door. Please take sweets from the box’ and leave a box of treats in the front garden for children.
- Be careful around sweets and chocolate as these can be toxic to dogs
- Reward your dog’s good behaviour: this includes calmness, settling, and responding to cues. Remember that if your dog is naughty, this may because they are worried and reacting to very different experiences to those they are used to on a normal evening. Set them up for success and don’t tell them off. Telling a dog off can make the problem worse.
- Make sure they have a safe space to go to if they are worried, and that this is comfortable. This could be their bed or crate, but make sure it is away from front windows or the door.
- Stuff a Kong to keep them busy. Have some ready made for when children come to the door and give it to your dog to keep them busy and occupied while you answer it.