Real-life Advice on Preparing Your Dogs for Halloween
There’s lots of great tips and advice on the internet about Halloween Safety Tips for Pets. Of course we need to be sure our animals are safe and secure during the first major fall holiday of the year, but sometimes the tips and advice we read can prove difficult to translate into our individual situations with our own pets.
I honestly hadn’t given a lick of thought to preparing Sally, our newest family member, for Halloween until about a week ago. First, I panicked, and my immediate thought was to forget about Halloween this year and just keep the lights off and block access to the door bell. After those two seconds flashed by, I realized that was silly and moved on to ponder some real solutions.
Sally loves kids, and if we handle it right, Halloween could be a ton of fun for her. The problem for now is that she hasn’t quite got the hang of being calm when she sees them approaching, and it’s is our responsibility to protect her and the people who come to our home. The simple fact is that an overly excited 60 pound boxer mix could easily knock one over and cause injury, even though she just wanted to give them some love.
After some discussion with the rest of the family, we’ve come up with a few solid ideas that are based on two proven training techniques – desensitization and positive reinforcement. We’re hoping that these ideas will help you, and us, to make Halloween a happy event for everyone.
Since she arrived, we’ve been working on how Sally responds to the sound of the door bell so that it doesn’t cause her to immediately fire up into “super-excited” mode. She does really well already, but we’re concerned that the bell going off repeatedly will make her anxious. So, perhaps ringing the door bell multiple times a day, followed up with our “bed” and “stay” commands would get her used to it – especially when she gets some of her favorite treats after every successful exercise.
Gating the front entryway so that she can see the kids at the door, but can’t make physical contact seems like a pretty solid option to us as well. She’s still learning, and this could help cut out the confusion that could go on as we start opening and shutting the door. The gate would keep her from prancing away with the neighborhood children, or scaring someone with her exuberance and getting into a bad situation. Again, rewarding her with a treat every time she sits or lays down calmly behind the gate as we open the door would key to making everything fun and anxiety-free for Ms. Sally. This technique is something we can practice beforehand as well.
Our final idea is to take her out to the front of the house and put the candy dish on a table a few paces away. That way she can observe the goings on, but she won’t be faced with the temptation to put her paws up on some unsuspecting Power Ranger (do kids even care about Power Rangers anymore?). Again, treats would be in order for every time she handled people approaching her space calmly.
At this point, we think sitting outside with her is the best option. That way if it’s too much for her, one of us can stay outside passing out the goodies while Sally relaxes inside with her other family members. We want the whole evening to be a positive experience in her mind once the candy fest is over.
Even though these ideas are tailored for our situation, you can use the same lines of thought in preparing your fur baby for Halloween. Most dogs get the idea pretty quickly, and you could have Fido ready and raring to go by the time the sun sets on October 31!
How about you? Are you worried about how to handle Halloween as far as your pets are concerned? Or maybe you’re an old pro and you’d like to share your tips with PetsWeekly readers. Be sure to comment below with any questions or helpful advice you might have!