What is Halloween for a dog?
For a lot of dogs, it’s a flipping nightmare. The doorbell keeps ringing all night long. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find doorbell music all that wonderful so I imagine that dogs might get sick of it too.
What then happens after the doorbell rings? Alien monsters are standing on the step…. And if that’s not bad enough, they start screaming “trick or treat” at the top of their lungs!!! This makes absolutely no sense to a dog. Dogs do not understand screaming aliens. Without some solid prep work, few dogs will cope with Halloween all that well.
What can you do? You can take each component of that nightmare and you create a happy ending for it.
- When the doorbell rings, have your dog lay down on a bed and get a treat. It doesn’t matter where you put that bed to start with, just create a happy link in the dog’s mind between treats and the doorbell. Eventually you will put that bed where you want the dog to be on Halloween night.
- Create costumes from sheets, stupid hats, and weird glasses …. And have people that your dog knows quite well put on one of these items at a time …. Feed the dog treats all the while. Create a happy link between costumes and treats.
- Practice screaming Trick or Treat at random times around the house. You do it, have your friends do it. Just create happy connection for your dog between treats and humans that holler stupid things. Combine 2 of these three things together to begin with …..that is the doorbell + hollering, or, crazy costumes + hollering. When your dog has happily adjusted to those, then combine all 3 together: doorbell, hollering trick or treat, and weird costumes
You want your dog to associate all of these crazy things with good treats and fun times with their favourite humans in the house. Start small and work your way up to that total commotion that is Halloween night in most neighbourhoods. Go at your dog’s pace!!! You don’t want to scare them. You want them to get used to it. So, start small and quiet, and add small pieces of it.
What if you don’t have enough time to do all this? What if your dog isn’t ready? Then, it is in the best interest for your dog to get them out of the house for the evening. Take a long walk in the park. Go for a nice long drive where there’s no trick or treaters on the roads. Go somewhere that is calm, quiet and peaceful. Be kind to your dog. It is one night of the year. Just avoid it.
The other very important thing to remember about Halloween for dogs is the danger of too much sugar, and possible poisoning from chocolate. If the dog gets into your kid’s candy haul, then you need to contact your vet. Make note of how much and what kind of candy your dog has consumed: your vet will want to know.