This is my most favorite Holiday!! Maybe it was the staying out late as a kid, the AWESOME decorations, the bountiful haul of candy, or SCARING PEOPLE that makes it my favorite. But, it’s just the best! Although, it’s not about the candy for me anymore – I still remember how awesome it was when I was younger though. 😉
This holiday can be a nightmare for some animals, fun for others, and then the few unaffected who don’t pay much mind to it. Adie, like my husky Prince, is definitely the latter. Prince only thought it was pretty cool when my sister and I would stay in the garage for hours on end, setting up our haunted house, as he cruised around and “helped”. But that was as involved as he ever got. Adie likes to play with the Halloween decorations and lay in the piles of plastic bags that are our “walls” for our haunted house. But she’ll just sleep through tonight, comfy on her bed.
My Shepherd Tobi, though, it almost drove him a bit crazy having so many people come to the door over and over and over randomly, all night long. And, if I had handled the situation any differently, he could very well have been a big ball of stress and nerves that night. Considering his breed, and the fact that he worked alongside me ALL the time. And this was one night a year I was out front, with a lot of people coming over, and he couldn’t “protect me”. 🙂 Even though he would get excited and bark once in a while, he was never stressed or upset. More on the jealous side, if anything.
I have a neighbor whose dog does NOT enjoy Halloween. At. All. He will begin barking tonight around 5pm. And will continue all night in three-to-five-bark increments, until about 10:30pm. I’m not sure what they do with him, but it’s clear he goes outside, and that seems to be it. It’s been this way for years. (Yes, I have offered more than once to help them out).
Nervous or Stressed Doggies:
Number one thing – don’t coddle them when they begin their nervous behaviors. Holding them, hugging them, telling them sweetly that “it’s ok”… That may be very comforting to a human child? It does the opposite to your dog. It actually encourages them to continue the nervousness and it can get worse from there.
You want to keep your nervous pet busy. Give them something to do, so that way they can channel that nervous energy into something constructive instead of barking or pacing or any other sort of “off” behavior they may do. My favorite suggestion is always having something for them to chew or gnaw on, throughout the night. Natural Peanut Butter in a Kong toy, thrown in the freezer. Treat Puzzle toys where the dog needs to figure out how to get the treats out. A new bone to chew on. I like giving natural bones from the butcher, I ask for a shank bone and will give that to the dogs around the time your first trick-or-treater comes by.
Providing a safe place for them to be. A bedroom, bathroom, their crate or a back room away from the front door and all the activity. Have their bed, blankets, or maybe a shirt of yours for them to cuddle up with. Close the door, turn on the radio on low, and give them their chewy to focus on. Going in and checking on them when things are quiet and calm, to tell them how good they’re being will help them a lot. This way they feel protected, and away from all the action going on. They can control the situation they are in – which brings them comfort when they’re in a state of nervousness.
On the contrary, sometimes that can cause a dog to be more upset because they’re not with you. If you are worried about your dog fear-bolting, but you think it has a better time being with you as you open the door to trick-or-treaters, I suggest having them on a tie-down nearby. Whether it be on leash with another family member holding them for safety, or on the railing of a staircase. This way they can see what’s going on but you don’t run the risk of them running out the door if they get scared by a costume. I would still provide them with their favorite toys or a new bone or something to chew on or play with, to keep them busy.
Ultimately, the idea is keeping their minds busy on something POSITIVE while the scary thing is happening. Acting like the boss, not coddling or comforting them. Instead, you will be their leader and tell them, confidently, that you got this and they’re just fine.
My recommendation for those of you with cats that are indoor/outdoor kitties. I suggest you leave them inside today. And keep them in until tomorrow. I posted last week about Kitty Superstitions, and even though the stories aren’t true. People can still be mean to cats on Halloween. Especially if they’re Black Cats! It’s unfortunate, but better to keep your kitty safe!
For indoor-only kitties, I would also close them up in a room. That way there’s no chance of them accidentally slipping out, or running out/bolting because of fear. Again, you may have a very confident kitty who can take care of him/herself, but it’s better to be safe than to chance it. You Just never know.
Costumes are fun for some, not so much for others. You know your pet best and if you think they’ll dig a costume – by all means, do it! I have never actually put my dogs in full on costumes. But, costumes didn’t start becoming popular until just a few years ago, so that’s just by default, I guess. I did, however, always put my dogs in seasonal-themed bandannas. Tobi loved them the most. He had one on almost all year-round. Prince would tear his off. Adie likes them for a little while, but gets tired of them.
Introduce your dog to them slowly. Let them sniff the items first. Place them on the dog gently. Just lay it on them, at first, and praise them for allowing you to do that. Be sure that the costume size is just right for them. Nothing too small, because you don’t want them to feel constricted. Just make sure it’s a positive interaction, and you try it out a few times before the actual night (I know, it’s kind of late for that – but now you know for next year!).
Some pets love them, and wear costumes happily and proudly! And then they can go trick-or-treating as well! It’s just like going on a walk, only in costume – with lots of stops. But it’s a good idea to expose them to you wearing costumes, before Halloween night, as well. By having them watch you put them on and take them off, it teaches the dog that sometimes we can change our “skins”. And they will be less likely to be fearful of other peoples’ costumes.
Obviously, this is one thing you really want to watch out for. Dogs shouldn’t have candy of any kind. Sugar is just not good for them. But especially chocolate. Every pet owner should know not to give ANY of your animals chocolate. Ever. It’s not that chocolate, itself, is necessarily dangerous. It’s the concentrated caffeine that comes from the cocoa bean that can cause issues with dogs. Their heartbeat increases and they can’t calm themselves down. It can cause issues in their digestive system as well. Ideally, you want to induce vomiting in case they get a hold of any. But, consider the circumstances first. If my 120lb malamute gets an M&M or 2, she’s most likely going to be fine. But if she ate an entire bag of chocolates, like my sisters dog once did? That would cause a problem. I would encourage vomiting right away. Give her water and watch her. If I were to see any signs of distress, I would bring her in to the vet. But, normally, treatments include fluids and vomiting. Unless the case is pretty bad. So, if your little 5lb chihuahua gets into a snickers bar, that would raise a concern – and I’d most likely take them in to be seen, as a precaution.
It’s best to just keep the candy up high, where they can’t get into it. And also keep a bottle of Syrup of Ipecac in your animal first-aid kid. For those “just in case” times.
Be safe out there tonight, if you’re going out with your kids. Enjoy yourself! Have fun, and make it fun for your doggies, too!
One last thing! If you’re taking your dogs out with you, at night? Take a look at getting a leash with reflectors on it, or buying reflective material to highlight your dog – just like giving your kids glow sticks. 😉