Halloween can be a fun time for the family, but the strange sights and sounds both inside and outside of the home can be very frightening and stressful for our dogs. Here are my top tips for making sure that your canine companion stays happy and relaxed with the celebrations:
1. Keep your dog away from the door
If you’re expecting trick or treaters, its best to not allow your dog to meet them at the door. Your dog may be frightened by their scary costumes, which could lead to them showing undesirable or even dangerous behaviours (such as barking or growling) towards your visitors out of fear. Instead, in a separate room behind a closed door, provide them with a safe place to retreat to such as a crate covered with blankets and filled with soft bedding, toys and treats. Teach them to voluntarily enter and settle in this place well ahead of the festivities. This will also prevent them from dashing out of the front door should they become frightened.
2. Don’t dress your dog up
You may think they look cute in a witch’s hat or devil horns, but your dog will not be so amused. Costumes may have bits on them which make movements or sounds which the dog isn’t used to and finds worrying. Dogs use body language to communicate how they are feeling. Costumes which cover or obscure their eyes, ears or tails make it difficult for them to signal their feelings and intentions to us and other dogs. This is a welfare concern for the animal, as dogs may become increasingly anxious without their owners noticing, and a safety concern for people interacting with the dog, as they may not notice signs that the dog is trying to communicate that they wish to be left alone, potentially leading to bite incidents.
3. Walk your dog during daylight hours and don’t take them trick or treating
Dogs may be frightened of people dressed in unusual costumes, especially when it is dark and your dog is less able to see clearly. Its best to leave them at home, with access to their safe place or den, if you want to go out trick or treating. Ensure a family member stays home with your dog if he/she is likely to become distressed by trick or treaters knocking at the door whilst you are out.
4. Ensure your dog is microchipped, and keep your details up to date
If your dog does dash through the door or escape the garden, it will be easier for them to be found and returned to you if they are microchipped with the correct contact details registered with the database company. Microchipping is now a legal requirement for all dogs in the UK. Dog should also wear a collar with an identity tag detailing the owner’s name and address when in public.
5. Keep the treats out of reach
Chocolate and sweets can be very harmful to your dog’s health if consumed. Place all sweets securely out of your dog’s reach at all times.