Monday, October 31, 2016

A dog-friendly Halloween in 3 easy steps

Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier with their pumpkins

Halloween has always been a special holiday for pug Liam. I brought him home just a few weeks before Halloween, so it was the first holiday we celebrated as a family. I'd like to think that he has at least a few good memories concerning costumes, candy and celebrations. (Including this year, when he dressed up like a spider. Good times.)

But Halloween can be a little disconcerting or even downright frightening for some dogs--including fearful dogs like Sinead the Boston terrier. When she thinks about Halloween, her memories might not be filled with fun and happiness.

There's a lot you can do to help fearful dogs--or dogs in general--to enjoy the Halloween season. Here are my top 3 tips.

Sinead the Boston terrier and a pumpkin

1. Invest in delicious dog snacks. 

My dogs are both very food oriented, and there's very little they won't do if they think there's a treat reward waiting for them. I can boost up their affection for a day that's important to me if I provide them with some kind of tasty snack.

Hubby and I tend to make some kind of feast for Halloween. This year, we're making a turkey. Liam and Sinead will be thrilled to get just a tablespoon of lean meat, and that's not a snack that will pack a huge caloric punch.

If you're not that into cooking on a Monday (and many people aren't), a dog cookie snack might do the trick. The idea is to provide a sort of out-of-the-blue treat the dogs don't have to work for. That makes the day itself rewarding, and it might be just the thing your dogs have been hoping for.

2. Use your happy voice. 

Halloween is filled with scary noises. Even the jazz radio station I habitually listen to has been playing songs scattered with sounds of women screaming, cats wailing, chains rattling and things moaning. Dogs hate these sorts of noises.

When I hear unusual noises, I whip out the happy voice. It's higher than my normal speaking voice, and I tend to use a sort of sing-song cadence. I tell the dogs things like: "Isn't this fun?" or "Aren't we having a great time?" or "Isn't that silly?" The dogs know this is the voice I use when something wonderful is about to happen. Using it in moments when sounds have them scared can help them to break unpleasant associations and learn to tolerate these weird noises a little better in the future. 

Liam the pug in his tie

3. Take the wee ones on a ghoulish walk.

I don't take in trick-or-treaters on Halloween, as the commotion is too hard for blind cat Lucy to tolerate. But Liam likes to see small children having fun. And the more I can expose Sinead to small children, the less likely she is to be afraid of them. Walks help a lot.

On Halloween, I like to take the dogs for a walk at dusk. They see plenty of people dressed up in costume, and if it's not raining, I have them wear costumes, too. They see a lot of friendly people, and they get a lot of attention. Liam lives for attention, so he loves this. Sinead can tolerate it with cookies, and it's good for her training.

Remember: Halloween comes with some safety dangers for dogs, so you will want to be cautious. but I hope I've given you some good ideas on how to make the holiday canine friendly. Let me know what you think in the comments, okay?


  1. Suppur post guys, filled with great advice! Thanks fur sharing :D

    Happy Halloween and spooky purrs

    Basil & Co xox

  2. We find living in the country without any trick or treaters helps too:) Happy howling!

  3. I really used to like Halloween until the aliens came to the door. Happy Halloween everyone!

  4. Great post, guys. Halloween can be scary for pets, but following tips like these sure help alleviate all that stuff. :)

  5. Mes must hairy slobbery sister Cinnamon LOVES pumpkin! Mommy makes all of her dog food and she gets quite a bit!
    Thanks for being part of my Pumpkin Patch this year! It would not has been the same without yous!
    Happy Howel-ween!