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A Helping Hand Through Halloween
Help your dog through this holiday
There is a lot that can go wrong at Halloween for dogs, be it eating something they shouldn't, getting a fright from the weird outfits, or being scared by the loud bangs of fireworks. We can do a lot to help your dog through this scary time and avoiding any unwanted trips to the vet. Ideally you need to practice and prepare your dog for this season throughout the year. However this article is focusing purely on getting through the lead up and night itself.
Dealing with a Scared Dog
Your dog cannot reason their way through all the things that are scaring them during Halloween. The best thing to do when it comes around is to manage the situation for them and get to work preparing for next year as soon as this year's excitement is over.
There are a few things that you need to manage: noise; scary people; and other visuals, like sparklers, that don't make sense to your dog. Managing the scary sights is relatively straight forward, keep your dog inside and draw the curtains. If you are going to answer the door to trick-or-treaters, be sure the keep the line of sight to your dog blocked so they don't have to see them all.
Dealing with the noise is a little trickier. Your dog's range of hearing is a lot better than yours, so they will pick out the background bangs sooner than you will. Keep an eye on their body language to know when they are starting to worry.
It is better to keep your dog at a lower state of worry throughout the night than have it get bad and then try and get them to settle down later. This is a lot easier said than done.
- Play music or white noise in the background to mask the worst of the noise.
- Build a few caves for your dog around the house so they can go hide if they want to. Small bathrooms with no windows are a good option, under the bed or under the kitchen table are also good.
- Don't force your dog to be sociable or to be in the company of family, let them go to the location they are most comfortable and go to them.
- Spend time with your dog in the space they have chosen, don't force them to cuddle or interact if they don't want to, just be there and sit with them. It is a great reason to pick up a good book.
- Dim the lights a little if possible in the space your dog has chosen. Just make sure that none of the flashes of fireworks from outside light up the room when the lights are dimmed.
- Play some scent games with your dog. Hide or scatter some treats near your dog and give them time to go find them all. Have some great jackpots in there too. You can also give them a stuffed Kong if they are not too nervous of the evening. Scent games are a great low-arousal activity for your dog that lowers the heart rate and gets the brain working again, something that stops when they get scared.
Even if your dog is not particularly scared there are a lot of things that can go wrong for them from eating something they shouldn't, to getting a fright and running away, to meeting the wrong kind of people on the night.
One of the biggest things at Halloween is safety, please make sure your dog is safe and secure indoors with at least two closed doors between them and the outside world at all times. This will prevent any accidents causing your dog to get out either through play or a fright.
The other thing to watch for is all the chocolate and sweets laying around during the holiday. This is the case before, during and after the big night itself so make sure they are kept far away from dogs and, when going through your stashes, make sure the kids keep them up high on the table away from your dog. You can have some doggy biscuits on standby for the kids to give to your dog in case they want to give the dog something.