Halloween Tips

Monsters and Zombies and Ghouls, Oh My!  Fall is finally here!  Who can resist the fun scarves, warm campfires, and charming witch décor?  Even my dogs love fall!  I’m not sure what they like more… rolling in the crunchy leaves, sniffing the crisp air, or the extra puppuccinos they get from Starbucks because of my inevitable increase in cravings for hot chocolate.  Who am I kidding, it’s definitely the puppuccinos.  I’ll tell you what my dogs don’t love about fall, though.  Halloween.  I’ve tried convincing them with fresh popcorn during movie marathons of Beetlejuice and Hocus Pocus, but no luck.  However, when seeing things from their perspective, it’s pretty easy to understand why spooky is not very fun.  Keep reading to help your dog stay safe and calm this Halloween.
I think I saw a…
The month of October is chock full of scary figures.  Whether they’re regular people playing dress up or animatronic Halloween props, the startle or fear they can elicit in our dogs is very real.  You can help keep your dog safe and secure this Halloween by keeping them inside during your neighborhood’s Trick-or-Treat night.  Be sure to have your dog in a space where they won’t have access to your front door or windows.  This will help minimize stress by making sure they don’t have to see the neighborhood children dressed up in costume.  Because while Timothy from next door might have been your pup’s best friend all summer long, he definitely doesn’t look the same when he’s dressed up as a mummy.
Did you hear that sound?
Whether it’s a witch’s cackle or the doorbell ringing all night long, if your dog is sound sensitive, Halloween can be a hard holiday to cope with.  Try to help them stay busy and feel calm by giving them an edible chew, a frozen, stuffed Kong, or a puzzle toy with exciting treats in it.  The food will cause a serotonin and dopamine release in their body which will ease their nerves as they lick and chew.  You may need to have several food items prepared in order to keep them busy and relaxed the entire evening.  You can also add an audio element of relaxation by turning on some white noise to drown out the scary noises that might drift in from outside.  A calming soundtrack from Through a Dog’s Ears could help quite a bit.
Even Scooby-Doo runs from ghosts!
During the fright filled weeks of October, but particularly during Halloween week, your normal walking route will be lined with outdoor props that move or make noise the moment you and your dog walk by.  It’s important for your dog to wear identification at all times when they are outside of your home, especially if they’re sensitive to changes in their environment or are likely to run when startled.  Even in your own backyard, keep your dog’s collar and ID tag on, and stay with them.  Leaving your dog unattended outside will leave them more susceptible to being frightened by the strange sights and sounds they might be exposed to outdoors.
No Sugar for your Sweet Pup!
Without a doubt one of the best parts of Halloween are all the sweets that go on sale the day after.  But chocolate and candy are not healthy for your pup, so be sure to keep your counters clear and the candy bags in a vault!  Or at least in the pantry, where your dog can’t access them.  If you’d like to include your dog in the eating of themed Halloween treats, pick up some pumpkin treats from your local pet store or add a spoonful of plain canned pumpkin to their Halloween dinner.  Better yet!  Add some plain canned pumpkin to their filled, frozen Kong. Your dog is sure to love the snack!
Have fun this Halloween!  And if you hear your dog howling at the moon… watch out for werewolves!  They speak the same language after all.

See you next time, at Central Bark!

– Carla

Dog Enrichment Specialist

Carla is an Operations Field Representative for Central Bark and co-owns a dog training and behavior consulting business, Good Karma Canine. Carla has three dogs Karma, a seven-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier Mix; Gypsy, a five-year-old Bull Terrier/Lab Mix; and Newt, a two-year-old Chihuahua.