10 Ways to Help Keep Your Dogs Safe and Stress-free During Halloween
Unexpected Halloween witches, goblins with googly eyeballs, ghosts and jack-o-lanterns hanging on every door, adorning tables and festooning walls. Costumes with face-covering masks or body paint that you put on for the big night, masks and complete so complete nobody – not even your kids and dog can recognize you. An endless parade of kids banging on your front door or ringing your doorbell, excitedly yelling “trick or treat” at the top of their lungs.
These are just a few of the things that can cause stress in even the calmest, stress-free dogs leading up to and during Halloween night.
And if your dog is naturally stressed or experiences high degrees of anxiety, All Hallows Eve is especially tough.
Today, I’m sharing 10 tips to help keep your dog calm or stress-free- or at least reduce the amount of stress they experience on the when witches, ghosts and goblins takeover your home and neighborhood.
Prepping Your Home for Halloween:
- Be Mindful of Where You Place Your Halloween Decorations: If your dog does not have anxiety, or if Halloween decorations don’t seem to bother him, there is no worry.However if Fido is fearful, placing decorations higher than his line of sight helps can help prevent or reduce stress and anxiety. aid in them not feeling as if an unwanted stranger has moved into their spot.
- Securely Store Costumes and Costume Accessories So Dogs Can’t Chew Them During Stressful Times: This may seem like common sense, but it definitely bears repeating!During times of stress, many dogs begin to chew to release some of their pent up stress. And dogs being dogs, they don’t always chew things that are safe or that we deem appropriate.By keeping costumes and all other costume accessories hidden away from your dog, not only are you keeping your or your kids costume intact, you are avoiding the possibility of your dog swallowing pieces of the costume that cause a gastrointestinal blockage- and the super fun and expensive visit to an after-hours emergency hospital.
- Keep Chocolate and All Other Candy Away from Your Dog! Halloween and chocolate go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs and should never be given to your dogs.. It’s also important to store chocolate and other candy out of your dog’s reach.Instead, provide your dog healthy treats such as freeze dried low-fat, low-calorie treat.
Prepping for Halloween Night:
- Expose Your Dog to Halloween Costumes and Halloween Decorations Early in Life or Early in the Season: A great way to desensitize your dog to potentially scary items is to have them be present when you unbox all your Halloween swag.Have them sit on the floor with you while you pull the items out of the boxes and slowly allow the dog to sniff (but not chew!) on your decorations so he will learn that they are not a threat to be frightened of.
- Extra Exercise: One way you can prep your dog for the increased activity and stress of Halloween night is to give your dog extra exercise before the Halloween tricks or treats begin. Try taking your dog on a longer than usual walk or run or extra play time in the backyard or dog park.If the weather or your schedule isn’t cooperating, you can even walk and/or run stairs inside your home. Check out this video example!
During Halloween Night:
- Designate a Safe Room: If your dog is stressed by Halloween decorations, costumes or the increased activity level- or if your dog is generally anxious to begin with- you may want to designate a safe room for your dog.In general, your dog’s safe room should be far away from your front door and Halloween activities and free of all Halloween decorations.If your dog is crate trained, then tricking out his crate with all his favorite toys plus a few new ones, extra blankets and food or treat dispensers are great way to help your dog keep calm. A great example of a easy to use and equally easy to clean food or treat dispenser is the Kong Wobbler.If your dog is not crate trained, than setting up a spare bedroom or laundry room away from all the activity will help decrease his stress level. These areas, with your clothes, sheets and other items, smell like you and will help create a comforting space to rest.
- Sit on Your Front Porch on Halloween Night to Decrease Shouting at Your Door and Door Bell Ringing: This is a very easy and effective tip to help reduce activity in your home and at your front. By sitting on your front porch (or in the yard near the front door if you don’t have a porch), you can distribute candy to that parade of costumed kids AND reduce the shouting and door bell ringing.
- CBD/ Herbal Supplements: CBD oil could- and will be- a completely separate article, but without diving too deeply into the health benefits of CBD, CBD is a great, natural solution for helping dogs experiencing stress.While CBD can provide calming effects on dogs, it is most definitely NOT weed for dogs.CBD is available in many forms, from treats to tinctures and beyond. When choosing a CBS product for your dog, do research, ask questions and choose a company that is transparent, has an extensive quality control program and, ideally, always uses the same strain- this will go a long way to making sure your dog is receiving the same amount of quality CBD every time!
- Calming Essential Oils: Essential oils are another complex topic that requires a separate and dedicated article to fully explain.However, if you are keen on using essential oils on your dog this Halloween, here are a few general tips:First, choose an essential oil that is known to help relieve stress in dogs, such as lavender, cedarwood, cardamom, frankincense and citronella oil.Essential oils are available in different forms such as ingestible, topical and environmental. Always make sure you choose the right form and NEVER give your dog an oral essential oil unless it is labeled as an ingestible.
For dogs with extreme anxiety, talk to your vet about Rx medication:
Some dogs who experience extreme anxiety may need to be given a prescription medication. In this case, have your dog examined by a veterinarian, explain the situation and what you have tried. Your vet may determine that your dogs would do best on a prescription medication during stressful events, such as Halloween.
Halloween can be a time of great fun and creativity- even if you have a dog. The simple steps and tips outlined above are a great way to include your dog in the festivities even if your dog experiences anxiety.