Friday, October 10, 2014

5 Tips for Surviving Halloween With Your Dog

Halloween is quickly approaching us, and it can be one of the most difficult and scary times for dogs. Here are 5 simple ways you can help prepare your dog for the upcoming holiday.

  1. Costumes and Decorations - Halloween comes with a variety of things that dogs can find scary (regardless of if we INTEND them to be scary!) Spend some time leading up to the holiday preparing your dog for what he might encounter. Teach your dog that decorations and people wearing costumes mean great things happen to him by pairing them with delicious treats or his favorite game. Start with less scary things, such as a pumpkin by the door, or a new hat as a costume and gradually build up to more terrifying things. Such as an Abigail in a mask, wig, boots, and cape...

  1. Waits at Door - When trick or treaters come to your door, you don’t want to have to be playing the “block the opening” game with your dog while trying to deliver candy to young guests. Teach your dog to wait politely until you tell him he is allowed to go through the door. We go over how to teach this in detail in most of our classes, but the short description is to start by opening the door a tiny crack. If your dog doesn’t attempt to go through the door, give your release word, open the door the rest of the way, and have a party on the other side. If he tries to get through the door, it simply closes and you try again. Over time, you will be able to open the door further and further while your dog waits politely for your release word.

  1. Leave it - Candy is tempting for everyone, but it can be especially dangerous for our canine companions. Candy often contains chocolate, lots of sugar, and high fat content. All of which can be dangerous for dogs. Spend some time proofing your dog’s leave it to ensure your dog (and your candy stash!) remains safe.

  1. Kids - Kids love halloween, but not all dogs love kids (especially when they are wearing costumes). Ensure that you know how your dog will react around your smallest trick or treaters and that you have the management skills to handle his reaction. If possible, find some polite, well-behaved children who can help you to teach your dog to be calm and relaxed around children before they start arriving at your door demanding treats!

  1. Crates and Management - Thinking you might have a lot of work to do and not enough time in which to accomplish it? Then this last tip is for you! The simplest and easiest way to manage your dog is to use your crate when you can’t ensure that your dog is going to behave appropriately. Teach your dog to love going into his crate and how to relax with a delicious food toy. This way, if you know your dog won’t be able to handle a situation, you have an easy way to make sure everyone stays safe and happy!