Halloween is just around the corner, and whether you’re actively looking forwards to all that this entails or are largely planning to let the night itself pass you by, Halloween can and usually does have a number of impacts on your dog.
Even if your home is one that very deliberately doesn’t decorate in order to discourage trick or treaters, it is hard to avoid the seasonal festivities, and yet all too easy to overlook how they might affect your dog’s stress levels, comfort, and even potentially health.
Some dogs very much enjoy Halloween and have a great time with the rest of the family, and many more simply aren’t really bothered or negatively affected by it in any way. But some dogs will find this time of year stressful, and there are a few potential hazards that the owners of all types of dogs should be on the lookout for.
With this in mind, this article will tell you more about five key things than can have an impact on your dog at Halloween, which might not have already occurred to you. Read on to learn more.
If you’re dressing up at Halloween or even if your idea of the perfect Halloween outfit is pyjamas and a glass of wine while the kids get on with it, think about how those Halloween costumes look from your dog’s point of view.
Things that mask your face, change your appearance, smell odd to your dog or that result in silly behaviour are all hard for your dog to understand and interpret, and this can generate unpredictable responses in dogs.
This might result in some hilarious canine responses whilst your dog gets used to things, but if an outfit confuses, unnerves or scares your dog, their response might be defensive aggression, even in the mildest mannered of pups.
Avoid stressing your dog out, and let them sniff and investigate your costume before you put it on, keeping your behaviour sensible around your dog, and speaking to them calmly and reassuringly and allowing them to sniff you and see your face whilst in costume too.
Also, bear in mind that people out on the streets will be dressed up and excitable too, and you will need to ensure that you don’t expose your dog to unnecessary stress or risk them behaving unpredictably outside of the home either.
Halloween means lots of sweets and treats, and it is important to ensure your kids aren’t sharing theirs with the dog, that your dog can’t reach treats in the home, and that well-meaning strangers aren’t slipping your dog the odd chocolate when nobody is looking.
However, you also need to bear in mind that out on the pavements and driveways, your dog is potentially going to find rich pickings of discarded or lost sweets as the evening of Halloween itself goes on, and possibly the next day too – including in the park and your regular walks. Factor this in and keep a close eye on your dog and what is lying around!
Like Christmas, Halloween tends to cause a tangible air of excitement in most populated areas, and the sights, sounds and smells of the season all generate a reaction in people. This, plus the behaviours and excitement of people themselves, all rub off on your dog too and mean that they may react accordingly, with some once more unpredictable behaviours, or simply being more opportunistic than normal about begging or acting out!
If you’re welcoming trick or treaters, think about the impact this may have on your dog first. If your dog is highly territorial, goes mad when the postman comes, or finds visitors or the sound of the doorbell stressful, you might be better off discouraging trick or treaters, or taking your dog out for the night.
Not only should you consider how trick or treaters and lots of callers might wind up your dog, you also need to consider the safety of said callers, and if your dog might become so stressed that they get snappy or even try to run off.
Having people over, taking the kids to parties, going trick or treating, or even altering when you take your dog for a walk to try to avoid trick or treaters all signal changes to your dog’s regular routine, and this can be unsettling for dogs.
It is usually better to avoid walking your dog when the streets will be very busy with people in costume, but try to stick to your dog’s usual routine as much as possible aside from this, and always make sure that their needs are attended to as normal.