Help & advice
Sam's Top Tips for October
October means Halloween excitement!
However, please be aware that October can be a very distressing and difficult month for many dogs and the humans who care for them.
Many dogs are absolutely terrified of fireworks and bangers. Some dogs may get stressed out by trick or treaters ringing the doorbell or they may be scared of people in costumes.
Help prepare your dog to Halloween noises in advance, using Dogs Trust “Sounds Scary” programme. This can help desensitise your dogs to scary noises. Read the booklet first to understand more about how counter-conditioning and desensitisation works. You can also contact an accredited reward-based trainer if you need help with this.
Please don’t force your dog to dress up in Halloween dog costumes. Halloween themed collars and bandanas are a much better option!
During Halloween, please keep your pets on lead at all times if you’re bringing them outdoors. Dogs can get easily spooked by bangers and may run off. Please keep them safe indoors with you, when not on walks.
Please ensure that your dog microchipped and that the microchip is registered and the details are up to date. Your vet can check this for you.
Please remember that it’s OK to comfort your dogs if they are upset…you can’t reinforce fear. It’s important to remain calm but give your dog reassurance if they’re struggling to cope.
If your dog is really struggling, you can put a note on your door asking people not to knock or ring the bell. You can also put some piece of tape over the doorbell and leave your treats on a small table outside for trick-or-treaters.
If bangers upset your dog, turn the T.V and radio up (or try a calming music playlist for dogs on YouTube/Spotify) and make sure your dog has a comfy den where they can hide away (a covered crate or even under a table). Don’t try to coax them out. Help them feel safe in their den.
If bangers and fireworks are common in your area in the lead up to Halloween, then your may need to change the times you walk your dog or bring them somewhere quieter. You may need to skip the walks temporarily if your dog is fearful and engage your dog with lots of fun enrichment opportunities at home instead.
Engage in play with your dog. We also recommend using puzzle toys, stuffed frozen Kongs, K9 Connectables, Lickimats, snufflemats or other interactive toys filled with high value food. It’s a good idea to have Kongs etc prepared in advance and left in your fridge or freezer for when you need them.
All dogs respond differently to the following items, but they may be helpful for your dog Thundershirts, Adaptil, Pet Remedy or approved herbs for anxiety such as Nutracalm or skullcap and valerian.
Speak to your vet if your dog has anxiety issues or noise sensitivity, or has previously struggled to cope with the Halloween season, as short-term anti-anxiety medication may be necessary for your pet.
We hope you all have a spooktastic Halloween this year, but do remember that Halloween can be a very scary and unsettling time for dogs…so have fun but make sure to keep your pets feeling safe!
Carrie – MADRA dog trainer
Photo of Sam by Suds & Paws