Halloween is here again - lots of fun for human kids, not so much fun for our furry kids!
Different dogs have different tolerance for the strange sounds and sights this weekend and on Halloween night. Petunia got right into it:
Plan ahead - even if your dog is fine with strangers ringing the doorbell all night, the groups of trick or treaters in weird costumes and makeup might cause unwanted stress and even a defensive reaction - we don't want the little vampires to get bitten! Keep your dogs away from the front door just to be sure.
The best plan is to find a quiet place at the back of the house, perhaps with a radio or tv on, and let your poochling relax in peace and quiet until the ghouls go home. If somebody can sit quietly with him, he'll be happier. Avoid saying "It's OK, it's OK" in a worried voice. That's the surest way to signal to your dog that there's something he should be worried or fearful about.
If you are going out and about with your children, leave your dog at home. Dogs are easily scared by costumes and unfamiliar sights, like ghosts in the front yards, and might slip the leash and run off.
Fireworks too. Keep dogs indoors once the fireworks start popping. Every year there are a number of dogs who react to fireworks with panic flight, from off-leash parks, from their yards, even from leashes. They run and run without any thought, and then they're lost. I get notices about lost dogs around Halloween every year.
A very calm and quiet demeanour from you is all the dogs need (they look at your body language to figure out how they should react, so a little method acting - calm, confident, unworried - goes a long way in their little doggy brains). Again, if your dog gets nervous, avoid reassuring of the "It's OK" variety - it's only a signal to your dog that there's something she needs to be anxious about. Use a calm, low-pitched voice, just say"yes, good, lovely boy/girl" - anything you like, but make it soothing, slow, quiet and completely relaxing.
Extra Halloween treats, extra snuggles, even a ghoulish bandana - all fun for you and your pooch. Remember to keep all candy out of reach - dogs love to eat the kids' sweet treats, and apart from you having to clean up after a dog with intestinal problems, chocolate is deadly poison to most dogs, and can cause serious toxic reactions.
Have a happy, happy, calm and relaxed Halloween with your furry charges,