Dog trainer shares 9 top tips to keep your dog safe this Hallowe'en
Our pets are part of our family.
And while Hallowe'en can be a great time to celebrate with friends, it can also be a little nerve-racking for our furry pals - especially with bonfires, fireworks and more just around the corner.
Dog trainer and co-owner of Werewolf Food, Christopher Hanlon, told Her his top tips to keep your dogs happy and safe this Halloween.
"Halloween anxiety in dogs in a very real scenario and although you’ll know when your dog is scared, unhappy or nervous, knowing how to handle it in the moment, or avoid it altogether is key," He explained. "Every element of the day from the food to the fireworks needs to be considered but planning a little ahead should make for a relaxing evening."
Chris suggests taking your dog for a longer walk than you usually wood early in the evening, or late in the afternoon - basically, before "much of the madness ensues."
This will help them to relax as much as possible, "and hopefully mean they are a little bit less angsty if the evening turns out be full of loud noises and have lots of visitors."
"As we know, the fireworks and noises can be unexpected so it’s worthwhile keeping your dog on its lead throughout," he added.
Hide the sweet treats
According to Chris, the next big risk to dogs on Hallowe'en night is the bags of sweets left out for trick-or-treaters.
"These need to be kept out of reach of your furry friend," he said. "We all know our dogs will sniff out every human treat they are not supposed to have and get up to all kinds of mischief in the kitchen when we’re not looking so it’s worthwhile being extra careful and leaving treats in high cupboards or locked away in between trick-or-treater visits.
"Monkey nut shells can be a choking risk while chocolate and other sweet treats can be poisonous to dogs and cause tummy upset so stick to the dog-friendly treats to include your dog in the fun.”
As with the sweet treats, Chris reminds us that dangerous decorations can be a risk too.
“The number one risk is lit pumpkins. We all know our dogs are curious and as they aren’t used to inviting lit pumpkins, keep them out of paws reach," he said. "Overall, my advice would be not to overdo it – the more the house appears to be unfamiliar, especially with scary statues and hangers, the more your dog will get riled up.
"Bear in mind too that by wearing a mask, your dog no longer recognises you and your family members so perhaps pop it on out of their sight.”
Stay with them
Chris explains that while it may seem like the practical option to keep your dog in a quiet part of the house, away from all the noise, it would actually be better to stay with them.
"We can underestimate just how scary fireworks, spooky costumes and consistent unexpected visitors can be to dogs so I suggest keeping them close, giving them their favourite toys to keep them as distracted as possible and comforting them with affection as they need it," he advised. "A handy trick is to turn on music or the TV to try and drown out external noise as much as possible.”
Chris has a handy tip for dealing with the unexpected visitors on Hallowe'en night.
“You can leave a note on the door for trick or treaters to knock quietly so you don’t disturb your dog too much. Similarly, I always draw the curtains too so our dogs don’t see them coming and going and passing," he said. "The most-important thing is to ensure your dog doesn’t come to the door with you.
Make a den
Particularly helpful if you think your dog may take comfort hiding behind the sofa, or in a nook in the room.
"If you think from past experience that this might be something your dog will do, it’s worth creating a den a few days before so they know they have somewhere to go on the big night," Chris said. "Putting a kids’ tepee in the room where you’ll be, or even a cardboard box, can do the trick.”
Know the signs
Chris warns that curiosity and worry may reveal themselves very differently in dogs.
"If your dog has heard a noise and is barking in response, don’t rile them more or give them additional cause for concern by responding too much to this. Similarly, a little whimper here and there is fine too," he said. "However, excessive panting, shaking and pacing are all signs that Halloween activity is affecting your dog more than you might think. It’s also very important to watch their evening food intake and even the next day as refusing their food is good indicator of upset.”
Ask a friend
But if you really don't think that your furry friend is going to cope well with the Hallowe'en festivities, Chris advises not leaving things to chance - ask a friend who lives in a quieter area if you can pop by during the busy times, or even if they would be up for dog sitting.
"You can also consider a boarding kennels in a rural area that you rate so you can have some peace of mind," he said.
Chris and his wife Bridgeen are the duo behind Ireland's first subscription-based dog food company - meaning you can get your dog's food delivered right to your door, just as your dog needs it.
Werewolf Food shares its home with the duo’s existing dog-related business - Brookvale Detection- which has built a global reputation breeding and training specialist sniffer dogs used by police & government services locally and internationally as far afield as Singapore and USA.