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The Scoop

How to Ease Your Dog's Halloween Night Stress

Trick Them with A Treat: How to Help Make Halloween Night a Walk in The Bark

 

If you head to any pet store this fall, it’s clear that Halloween has gone to the dogs. While it’s easy for owners to get caught up in the fun of assembling costumes, decorating, and treat buying, it’s important to remember the stress and anxiety that surrounds this holiday for many of our furry friends. After all, things like creepy lawn ornaments, costumes, and strangers at the door can all cause quite a fright for our canine companions.

Here are some tips and tricks to ensure that your Halloween night is filled with more treats than tricks this year!

 

 

 

Prep In Advance for the Witching Hour

When it comes to Halloween night, the thought of a constant ringing doorbell may make some dog owners cringe with dread. After all, stranger fear, over-excitement, and doorbell reactivity are common dog problems that many pet parents encounter regularly.

While the increased door traffic on Halloween night may have had your family renaming the holiday to “HOWL-o-ween” in the past, opt to prepare in advance to make this year a fresh start.

Address this behavior ahead of time by desensitizing your pooch to your front door. Conditioning your dogs to be less reactive to the door is a fantastic way to set your home up for success (and to save your eardrums!). Not only that but creating positive associations around the door can help ease your dog’s anxiety around these interactions. 

Trick #1

Desensitizing your dog to knocks and doorbell ringing. Have a family member ring the doorbell and direct your dog to their bed, putting them in a “place” command. Reward your dog with a “treat party” when your dog stops barking and repeat. This will help reinforce that silence around door sounds results in positive rewards for your dog. Be sure to practice as much as possible before the big night for the best outcome.

 Pork or Duck superfood treats are just the right sizes for a training session 

Shop West Paw Treats

 

 

 

Beat the Neighborhood Trick-or-Traffic

Before the boys and ghouls hit the town, take your dogs out for a good exercise session while the sun is still up. Whether you go on a walk, have a nice long play session, or a trip for a pup-kin spice latte – burning some energy beforehand is always a good idea.

 

Zisc® Glow (in case that play sessions goes ‘til dark)

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Trick #2

Taking your dog for a walk at your local park, a local trail, or playing some fetch! Engaged play is always great for the bond you have with your pooch and can burn off some afternoon zoomies. The right toys at the right time can get your dog into a more receptive headspace, so don’t be afraid to get your play on!

 

 

Engage in some Paranormal Snacktivity

A great way to destress your dogs on Halloween is to trick them with a treat! Studies show that enrichment toys aid in lowering stress levels in our furry companions. One study revealed that stuffed enrichment toys even lowered the frequency of barking.

On Halloween night, simply give your dog a nice stuffed treat to focus on once the trick or treaters start to roll in. This way, your dog can focus their time on obtaining the yummy contents, and less time stressing about the door.

Trick #3

Prepping some stuffed enrichment toys in advance for Halloween night. Layer the bottom of the snack with the highest value ingredient to motivate your dog to work through the entire contents. To increase the longevity of the treat, try popping it in the freezer.

 Treat your dog to a Toppl® (and you are treated a distraction dog!) 

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Create a Spooktacular Sanctuary Space

While the front door is booming with excitement, it’s never a bad idea to set up a quiet space where your dog can seek sanctuary during the festivities. This space will also allow you to keep your dog away from the constantly opening and closing door - a bonus to prevent any flight risks.

 

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Trick #4

Setting up a nice warm bed, some nice music to muffle out the excitement, and maybe even some DogTV! Top it off with a nice chew or frozen treat.

 

 

Once the trick-or-treaters have fizzled out and gone home with their loot, cuddle up with your dog for some personal attention and watch some scary movies (if you dare!). To wind down the night, try a decompression activity like foraging or scattered feedings to get your dog back to a calm, balanced headspace.

 

 

 

Sources

(PDF) Effects of environmental enrichment on the behavior of shelter dogs (researchgate.net)

5 Canine Enrichment Studies & Resources: What Science Tells Us About Enrichment (bindisbucketlist.com)

The effect of feeding enrichment toys on the behaviour of kennelled dogs (Canis familiaris) - ScienceDirect

Train your dog with toys—for a well-behaved pupper and extra-cool pet - West Paw

What Are "Decompression" Activities for Dogs, and Why Are They Important? (bindisbucketlist.com)