Halloween is the time of year for weird and wonderful traditions. From pumpkin carving competitions, to creepy costume parties, trick-or-treating and fireworks displays, the list of frightful festivities is endless! But what’s deemed as harmless fun for us humans, could lead to stress and anxiety for our four-legged friends.
According to the RSPCA, more than a third of dogs in the UK show avoidance behaviour, such as cowering, trembling and whining in response to loud noises. Halloween is the prime time for louder than usual sounds (fireworks & parties) as well as potential new (spooky!) visitors. Just as you’re planning ahead for the ultimate Halloween costume, it’s best to have plans in place to make sure your dog feels as comfortable as possible.
To make sure you don’t have a haunted hound this Halloween, our friends at the RSPCA recommend you follow these simple steps.
1. Provide your dog with a safe haven
Make sure you give your dog somewhere to hide. This could even be under some furniture or in a cupboard, as long as they are able to get to it at any time. RSPCA animal behaviour expert Dr Samantha Gaines says:
“Choose somewhere quiet and help them to learn that being there is positive and that no harm will come to them. You can do this by giving them a variety of chew toys.”
2. Ensure your dog is kept in a secure environment
It’s possible that you will be frequently opening the door to trick or treaters, and so it’s particularly important to ensure your dog has no way of escaping. By law your dog should also be microchipped, just in case they do get spooked and manage to get loose!
3. Warn trick-or-treaters
Consider putting a sign on your front door to let any trick-or-treaters know you have a nervous pet and ask them to pass on without knocking or ringing the doorbell. You could leave some goodies in a bowl outside if you don’t want to miss out on the festivities.
4. Go for ‘walkies’ during the day
Walking your dog during the day can help avoid trick or treaters (those costumes can be rather daunting, after all!) and avoids them having to go outside when any fireworks are being set off.
5. Keep the ‘treats’ away from your dog
Don’t forget to keep any chocolate and sweets away from your dog, as even though they are enjoyable for us, eating these could make your pooch really poorly. Call your vet straight away if you’re concerned they have eaten something they shouldn’t.
Why not try out some of our terrifyingly awesome Halloween dog treat recipes, so your pooch can enjoy a treat too!
6. Prepare for night-time
When the night draws in, close your windows and curtains and put on some music to muffle the sound of any loud noises outside. Dr Samantha Gaines suggests you should also seek pre-halloween advice from your vet:
“Your vet may recommend the use of diffusers which dispense calming chemicals into the room. In the longer term, if your dog is frightened of unfamiliar noises or fireworks, your vet may suggest referral to a clinical animal behaviourist to teach him/her to get used to the sounds.”
It’s important to understand the particular needs of your pooch in order to minimise the potential ‘frights’ for them at this time of year. If your dog shows territorial behaviour towards new visitors, it’s probably best to warn those trick or treaters off, or attend a party at a friend’s house rather than hosting your own. You can also check out our tips to find out what may be causing your dog’s overly protective behaviour and how to get it under control.
Overall, it’s best to avoid leaving your dog alone around this time of year, particularly if your dog suffers from separation anxiety. If you are heading out for some frightful halloween fun, or hosting your own halloween haunt, a DogBuddy sitter can provide your pooch with the company and safe haven they need.
What have you and your pooch got planned this Halloween? If you’ve got any tips to share that help keep your four-legged friend calm, leave us a message in the comment below or chat to us on Facebook or Twitter @DogBuddyCo.