When we think of the most stress-inducing holidays for our pets, our minds typically go to New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July thanks to all the fireworks. But did you know that Halloween can also be pretty scary for a dog? And not just because everyone is in costumes and masks!
Whether your dog already displays some nervous behavior, or you aren’t quite sure how they might react to the parade of trick-or-treaters coming to your door, we’ve put together some of our best tips and tricks to keep the scares away this Halloween.
1. Establish a Safe Space
Creating a safe space for your dog is a must if they’re showing signs of anxiety on Halloween night. Safe spaces can be a great place for them to retreat to if things get too overwhelming, and you should consider choosing a quiet location that’s away from the door. A bedroom or even a different place for their crate should do just the trick. Don’t forget to fill the space with their favorite toys and blankets. You can even play a white noise or doggy-friendly video on YouTube to help calm your pup’s nerves –– in fact, some studies have shown that classical music can help dogs feel less agitated and more relaxed!
2. Desensitize Them to the Sights and Sounds
If you want your pup to be involved in your Halloween plans, you should start introducing them to the sights and sounds of the holiday early. Practice ringing the doorbell, showing them Halloween decorations, and playing Halloween music on a very low volume. When your dog reacts positively, reward them with praise and treats. By desensitizing them to the spookiest parts of the season, you’ll be able to help them feel more at ease when the actual festivities begin. Just remember to go at your pup’s pace!
3. Get Them Moving
Just like it does for us humans, exercise is a great way to relieve any stress and anxiety that your dog might be experiencing. Before the evening begins, take your dog on a long walk or spend some time in the park playing fetch with them. By letting them exercise beforehand, they should be able to work off any excess energy that might make them more anxious when trick-or-treating begins.
4. Keep an Eye on the Candy Bowl
The scariest part of Halloween night aren’t the costumes or the decorations, but the possibility that your dog might get into something they shouldn’t. Keep a close eye on the candy bowl as the evening progresses, and if you have trick-or-treaters in your household, make sure they don’t drop any candy as they survey their spoils for the night. Some dogs display destructive behaviors when anxious and might go after the candy bowl if they can see it, and while you’re free to enjoy all the candy that you’d like, your pup really should steer clear.
5. Get a Little Outside Help
Despite our best efforts, stress sometimes doesn't go away. Luckily, there are plenty of supplements on the market that can help relax a nervous pup. Super Snouts Chill+Out CBD “Calming” Soft Chews is one of our favorites. These chews are specifically formulated with nervous, hyperactive, and stressed pups in mind, and, as the name suggests, use broad-spectrum hemp to help them chill out. If you haven’t tried a supplement with CBD before, we also recommend Ark Naturals Happy Traveler soft chews or capsules, which are made with ingredients like L-Tryptophan and St. John’s Wort that help promote calmness and can be used situationally. And if calming chews don’t seem to help, it might be time to consult with your vet, who might have some helpful suggestions to alleviate your dog’s nervousness.
By following these helpful tips, you and your pup can enjoy fewer tricks and more treats this Halloween!