No Tricks just Treats please!  How to make Halloween less stressful for your reactive dog

No Tricks just Treats please!  How to make Halloween less stressful for your reactive dog

Halloween can be a fun and exciting time for humans, but it can be stressful for dogs, especially reactive dogs.  Halloween can be worrying for dogs who find novel things scary, are worried by people wearing ‘strange’ outfits, worried by unfamiliar people, or sensitive to noise.

On Halloween night, there are many things that can create stress for a reactive dog, such as:

  • Costumed trick-or-treaters
  • Loud noises, such as fireworks or doorbells ringing
  • Sudden movements, such as people jumping out from behind bushes
  • Strange smells, such as candy or costumes

How to Make Halloween Less Stressful for Your Dog

There are a few things you can do to make Halloween less stressful for them:

1. Prepare ahead of time

The best way to help your dog cope with Halloween is to start preparing ahead of time. Start by desensitizing them to Halloween-related stimuli, such as decorations, costumes, and doorbell ringing. You can do this by exposing them to these things in a gradual and controlled way. For example, you could start by putting up a few Halloween decorations around the house and letting your dog sniff them and investigate them at their own pace. Once they seem comfortable with that, you could move on to playing recordings of doorbell ringing or playing videos of people in costumes.

2. Create a safe space for your dog

On Halloween night, create a safe space for your dog where they can relax and feel comfortable.  This could be a quiet room in the house or even a crate.  Give them plenty of toys and treats to keep them occupied.

3. Exercise your dog

Ensure your dog gets evening walks before Halloween night sets in.  If they’ve had their exercise, have been fed, and had their evening toilet break early, this will help them settle easier on the night.

4. Manage your dog’s environment

On Halloween night, try to manage your dog’s environment as much as possible. This means keeping them away from the front door and other areas where they are likely to be exposed to Halloween-related stimuli.  You may also want to turn up the TV or play soothing music to help mask the noise of trick-or-treaters.

5.  Avoid dressing up your dog in Halloween costumes

Dogs can find Halloween costumes uncomfortable, and this discomfort can add to their feelings of stress.  A festive bandana can be a good way to ‘dress up’ your dog for Halloween photos.

6. Be patient and understanding

Even if you take all these precautions, your dog may still be anxious on Halloween night.  Be patient and understanding with them.  If they appear stressed, take them to their safe space and give them some time to de-stress with you.

Additional Helpful Tips for Halloween and your Reactive Dog

Here are some additional tips that may be helpful:

  • If your dog has a history of becoming aggressive when they are scared or anxious, it is important to consult with a professional dog behaviour specialist and your veterinarian to develop a plan for keeping them safe on Halloween night.
  • If you are concerned about your dog’s safety or well-being on Halloween night, you may want to consider boarding them with a trusted pet sitter or kennel.
  • If you do choose to keep your dog home on Halloween night, be sure to check on them frequently and provide them with plenty of love and support.

With a little planning and preparation, you can help your reactive dog have a safe and stress-free Halloween.

If you are concerned about your dog’s behaviours, it is important to talk to your veterinarian or an accredited dog behaviour professional.   At On Kew Dog, we can help you to identify the factors that are contributing to your dog’s behaviour and develop a behaviour modification plan to address them.

Contact us now for behaviour support for your reactive or aggressive dog.

Nada Chebib KPA-CTP ABTC 

ID 1: A large red and white bull breed dog is sitting in front of a painted white front door.  She is wearing a black bandana which says:  “No Tricks Just Treats Please” in white and orange text.

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