Navigating Halloween & Keeping your Canine Companions Calm
Spooky Season is upon us, and it’s not just spooky for us humans, but for our dogs as well. One could argue it's actually more fear-inducing for our dogs because we, as humans, have the cognitive ability to rationalize what we are seeing, our dogs do not.
Dogs don't have the ability to put into context all of the costumes and decorations that come with this time of year. So how can we help them through it?
Here are three things to keep in mind for Halloween with your dog:
1. Don't force them into situations they don't want to be in.
If they want to move away from the scary ghost decoration on your neighbours lawn, that's okay! I can understand the intent behind wanting to bring them up and show them that "it won't hurt them”, however, you can risk psychological harm to your dog in the process.
Keep reading to see what I mean.
Desensitization (the process of gradually exposing your dog to the scary stimuli) requires a carefully thought out plan and should only be done under the supervision of a qualified dog behaviour expert.
It also might be more helpful to leave your dog home during Trick or Treating due to the combination of things happening around them. Your dog might prefer to cuddle up on the couch while the family heads out into the night.
2. Fireworks can be traumatizing to our dogs.
Loud bangs coming from the sky without context...terrifying! This is a very real fear that some dogs have. If your dog experiences extreme fear of loud noises such as fireworks, now would be a great time to consult your Veterinarian to discuss if medication might be an option for your dog. It's also helpful to discuss this with a behaviour professional before your dog will be exposed to the actual event.
3. Candy and chocolate are human treats!
Without sounding too obvious, chocolate is toxic to dogs. Theobromine is the main component in chocolate that results in toxicity. The darker the chocolate, the higher levels of Theobromine, thus, the more hazardous the consumption can be. If your dog has consumed chocolate, I recommend contacting your veterinarian immediately and they will be able to further assist you. Candy is another one of those tasty goodies that isn't all that great for our dogs. While likely not fatal, the high sugar content can cause tummy upset. Keep all the chocolate and the sweet human treats out of reach from Fluffy to avoid candy-induced illness.
Halloween can be fun for our dogs if we are able keep it as low key as possible for them. Keep their world quiet and small for the few days leading up to, and after the holiday.
Have a safe, spooky Halloween 🎃