With Halloween right around the corner I want to share some tips for keeping your dog feeling safe during this potentially scary holiday. For many dogs people at the door is stressful, let alone dozens of kids in costumes which can stress out even highly social dogs. Or maybe you have a young puppy that has had limited experience with people coming to the door and you want to set them up to succeed and avoid a stressful experience with a person. What can you do to help?
1. Keep your dog inside during high traffic Trick or Treating times. Do a potty break before Trick or Treating starts so they will be set throughout the evening.
2. Create a safe space in a room away from the front door. Include somewhere comfortable to lay like a bed or their crate.
3. Block out sounds that may trigger a stress response from your dog (doorbell, knocking at the door, people's voices, etc). I like box fans or classical music for this. Check out Through a Dog's Ear or Relax My Dog on YouTube for classical music designed specifically for dogs.
4. Stock up on enrichment items to keep your dog mentally stimulated and relaxed in their safe space. Some of my favorites are:
- The Kong classic stuffed with frozen peanut butter, wet food, yogurt, cream cheese, or whatever else your dog loves.
- Licki mats smeared with peanut butter or wet food. I find this keeps your dog busy longer without freezing.
- Boxes! Fill them with small pieces of treats or kibble, smear peanut butter on the sides, put in a chew like a bully stick, get creative. For those of you with a dog that is an enrichment box pro make it harder for them by putting boxes inside of boxes. Another fun one is to take paper towel and toilet paper rolls, put a couple pieces of food in them, pinch off the sides and put those inside of a box.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween season!
Chelsea Campbell, CDPT-KA