That exciting time of year when people and pets don their scariest costumes, put spooky pumpkins out on display, and make the annual door-to-door trek for trick-or-treating is approaching quickly. For many, it’s all fun and games. But for some, all that heightened excitement can be stressful for dogs, especially if they react negatively to the doorbell constantly ringing.
Instead of dealing with a night of non-stop barking at the door and at costumed visitors, devise a plan for how to manage your dog’s discomfort or stress. Here are a few helpful tips.
Don’t force your dog into a costume
First things first. Is your dog the one in costume? Consider that for some dogs, stress levels can rise simply because of the discomfort of being in unfamiliar attire. If your dog shows signs of distress or is clearly not enjoying his Halloween costume, don’t force it. On the other hand, if your dog doesn’t seem to mind wearing a spooky ensemble, just make sure the disguise doesn’t pose a safety risk or restrict his movement or vision.
Practice your training commands
Consider this an occasion when you can put your dog’s obedience training to great use. When the doorbell rings, give your dog a command, such as sit or stay. If he’s trained to retreat to a bed or crate, direct him to that location. Use a reward, such as a treat, if he follows this behavior. You can also consider instilling this command long after the trick-or-treaters have come and gone. It can be put to use any time your doorbell rings.
Occupy his time
A treat or toy is a good way to divert your dog’s attention from the ringing doorbell. Pet stores are packed with Halloween-themed merchandise, so you may consider purchasing a new Halloween-themed toy. Toys that help focus your dog mentally, such as puzzle balls or Kong® rubber toys, can keep him occupied over a longer period of time. Interactive experiences like these may help focus your dog’s attention on the positive versus fretting over who is at the door.
Create a safe space
If there’s a room in your house away from all the noise, reserve it for your dog on Halloween night. Consider putting his bed or crate in this reserved space, along with toys or treats to occupy his time. Knowing that he’s safe and sound in an enclosed space will give you peace of mind and lessen the risk of him escaping out the front door every time it opens.
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