Want your dog to have a spooktacular Howl-o-Ween? Read our Introduction:
Halloween in more simple terms is a holiday meant to scare us, humans. Please keep in mind that we know, understand and expect these things, our dogs do not. Similar to the 4th of July, this can be a scary day for a lot of dogs. Children and adults alike can be at a greater risk of dog bites from confused and scared dogs on Halloween. Our dogs may become uncomfortable, nervous, or frightened by kids screaming and running around in spooky costumes and every child/costume could prompt a different reaction from the same dog. Unless your dog has been exposed to countless different costumes recently, he/she will not just naturally understand that there is a child or young adult underneath. If time allows-- it may be a good idea to walk your dog through your neighborhood before dark, just before things pick up so he/she may be exposed in a less threatening and more secure way. *IF YOUR DOG or PUPPY DOES GET SCARED* Please do not soothe or coddle them. You are rewarding them for this behavior and training them to be afraid. Also do not force them to meet or greet anyone while they are tense or exhibiting fearful behaviors, this will lead to more problems. Stay safe, practice good dog ownership behaviors and have a Happy Halloween from all of us here at Adventure is Barking!
When Trick or Treaters Arrive: Implement the Place and Stay Command
Place: to teach a “place” command have a place picked out whether it be a yoga mat, dog bed, couch, designated rug or raised bed. Lure the dog to the spot with a treat and say “place” as you're sending him/her there. When all four paws are on the spot give the treat and say “Yes! Place”.
Important Things to Note: You can practice this at home *FOR BEST RESULTS PRACTICE BEFORE HALLOWEEN* by having someone else either ring your doorbell or knock at the door. (If you have kids at home this is an awesome opportunity to get them involved with the dogs training.) When this happens simply send your dog to its place and answer. The more you can mimic real world distractions or Halloween in this case-- the better set up for success your dog will be. Sterile environments can be helpful for initially teaching a command, but to ensure your dog actually knows his/her stuff it's best to get as much exposure to real world situations as possible.
Keep your dog’s “place” somewhere far enough back from the door so he/she does not slip out. But not too far so the dog is overly curious and more likely to break command. Keep the “place” in a central area so you can see your dog and keep control of him/her.
Stay: To teach your dog “stay” pick a spot in your space for them to remain. This is an excellent way to incorporate your “place” command. Either have them in a sit or down position and then give them the command “stay”. Take a step or two back then return and reward if they don’t move. If they do get up make sure to say “no” then place them back in a sit or down and restart.
Important things to note:
Do not draw out your command, (“Staaaaaaaaay” *while slowly backing away*) your dog will get confused and be more encouraged to get up and follow. The quicker you can be the more likely you are to capture the correct behavior and make sure to reward in a timely manner.
Don’t set the bar too high. Even if you can only take a few steps at a time, don't be discouraged; your dog needs time to learn the command before you can expect him/her to be able to apply it to longer lengths.
Keep Your Dog Engaged & Distracted
Puzzle toys can come in handy during times like these and better yet-- there are some themed puzzles if you want your dog to get into the spooky spirit.
Some puzzle toys we recommend are: (can be found online or at Chuck & Don’s)
Nina Ottosson’s Tornado by Outward Hound
*Nina Ottosson’s Twister by Outward Hound
*Trixie Dog Activity’s Mad Scientist
Trixie Dog Activity’s Poker Box (level 1 &/or 2)
*Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Snoop
Pet Zone IQ Treat Dispenser
Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Treat Dispenser
*some of our favorites here at Adventure is Barking
Keep a leash by the door or better yet, if you plan to have the dog be involved (either wearing a costume or helping to answer the door) keep a leash on your dog and let it drag behind.
Keep treats by the door so if your dog does try to slip out or if you will be using the place command then you can reward your dog for good behavior or enticing them back into your house.
If you plan to secure your dog in a different room:
Remember to close any blinds
Play music or turn a movie on loud enough to mask any triggering sounds
Give your dog something to do-- frozen and stuffed kongs are an excellent treat during times like this
If your dog is crate trained then bring their crate into the space with them so they have somewhere comfortable to be, or just crate them.
Puppies and dogs that like to chase can get overly excited by costumes with dangly bits or streaming material. If you are going to let them greet kids at the door, make sure to supervise them very carefully if you have a dog or puppy that may try to play with a child’s costume.