If you are like me, your dog IS your doorbell. But when people ring your actual doorbell, chaos ensues. Especially when you have young kids in the house, the dogs barking at someone ringing (or knocking) at the door can cause unnecessary stress, both for you and your family. Normally, this stress lasts for just a few minutes, but on holidays like Halloween, when friends and neighbors are knocking every few minutes, it can send your pets over the edge. On top of doorbell stress, holidays like Halloween come with a lot of extra noise and new people, which can increase the risk of runaways and fear-based responses in dogs, like aggression. Not only that, but candy and candles can pose an extra safety risk for your furry friends. Rather than let your pets spend the evening in fear, there are a few ways you can alleviate stress this Halloween.
1. Calm EnvironmentEspecially when kids are trick-or-treating and knocking on your door, it is important to keep your anxious pup in a separate room with a door or a gate. If your dog runs outside every time you open the door, is aggressive with new people, or is generally anxious when there is too much activity, putting them into a separate room with a calm environment can keep them from getting hurt or hurting others. Make sure to put your pets favorite toy and bed in the room where they will be riding out the holiday. You may also find that playing classical music at a low volume helps keep them calm. Additionally, try giving them a toy that will occupy their mind for a bit (for example, a treat puzzle toy or a toy with peanut butter inside). Check on them periodically and give them lots of snuggles.
2. Keep The Leash[row] One of the biggest concerns on holidays - especially holidays when the door is being opened constantly - is a pet running away. Pay close attention to your dogs and cats when opening the door if you have chosen not to give them their own space. When going outside, make sure to leash your dog, even if you normally don't. Loud noises like fireworks, knocking, and kids yelling, can set your dog into panic mode and send them running. Unfortunately, they may not run home and can become lost. Leash your pup and remember that if they are panicking, they should not be around small children.
3. Pet CostumesWe have all been guilty of dressing our dogs up for Halloween, and for good reason. It can be adorable to see your dog dressed up as a cowboy or a little turtle. But it is important to avoid costumes with beading made of lead or zinc. If your pet is prone to chewing the costume off, swallowing lead or zinc can be toxic. If your pet attempts to get out of the costume, be sure it is not too tight or difficult for them to get out of (as courtiner-intuitive as this seems). Tight straps or strings can result in your pet getting tangled and struggling or strangling themselves accidentally.
4. Candles, Jack-O-Lanterns, and CandyA nervous pet, dog or cat, might get antsy and knock over candles or jack-o-lanterns which can put your home at risk of a fire. Make sure to lift all candles and jack-o-lanterns with candles inside off of the floor and away from where your dogs or cats can bump into them. If you have a bowl of candy for trick-o-treaters or kids coming home with candy, there will likely be a lot of chocolate in the house. Aside from the obvious risk of chocolate, keep candy away from pets. Sugar substitutes sometimes found in candy are toxic to dogs and can cause seizures and death. Swallowing candy wrappers can cause the wrappers to become stuck to the intestines and may need costly surgery to remove.
5. Calming Essential OilsThere are plenty of safe, holistic ways to keep safe this Halloween. Using essential oils is a great start. Lavender oil is not only calming to people but is calming to pets too. Use it in an oil diffuser or dilute with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, to put on the skin for a calming effect. Peppermint oil can also produce a calm effect in pets and people alike. We have also brought on a line from Plant Therapy called Pup and Pony made specifically for dogs and horses. A key one to use during the holidays is Horse Whisperer. While it was created specifically with horses in mind, it is also safe and effective for dogs who may be struggling with elevated stress levels to help them calm down. There are a few oils that should be avoided in all animals. A few of the most popular oils to avoid using on pets include:
- Tea Tree Oil
- Clove Bud
- Bitter Almond Birch