While ghosts and goblins may be your thing many dogs find all the ghoulish decor and costumes of Halloween a bit frightening! I can only imagine what they must be thinking… For a month of the year the whole world looks different and there are sketchy characters lurking everywhere! It’s their job to let you know when something is not right and most of them believe body parts dangling from trees firmly falls into the “wrong” category. Try these tips to help your dog cope with this spooky day:
– While walking your dog around the neighborhood encourage them to investigate new decor by letting them give a sniff. Treats work wonders to get reward them for getting close to something they think they should avoid! After the initial exploration many dogs calm down. If you pup is still worked up spend a few minutes near the “scary” items (but still far enough away that they feel comfortable) while feeding their favorite treats to create a positive association.
– If you dog will be exposed to people in costumes start by acclimating them to your family in theirs. Keep interactions with you in costume positive by giving treats, attention and playtime while donning your masks.
– Refresh your dog on the leave it command (show a treat, say leave it and reward when your dog doesn’t touch the item and backs away). This will come in handy if your pup outside during trick or treating (think candy on the sidewalk).
– For dogs who will be sporting costumes of their own acclimate them at home first. Remember to keep the experience positive with lots of treats!
– When selecting costumes for your dog look for those that do not cover her face or eyes. If your dog is less than thrilled about being dressed up let him go as himself this year!
– If you dog will be greeting trick or treaters keep a baby gate across the front door to keep your dog and those at the door safe! Reward good door greeting behavior such as sitting calmly. If ghouls and goblins make your pup nervous, keep them in another room during fright night, and be sure to practice spending time in the space (with a bone or chew to occupy them) before the time comes.
– Last but not least, make sure candy is well out of reach. Chocolate and certain kinds of sweeteners are toxic to your pooch!
You may or may not have heard my lecture on always securing your dog in the car. Yes, I know your dog wants to ride shotgun but it’s not safe! No, not even around the block! I was recently in a car accident with my hounds in the car (trust me they fared better than I did) and can now back that spiel up with some personal experience.
Whether with a seat belt harness, a crate or a special barrier that keeps your dog securely in the “hatch” of your car, it is vital that you restrain your pooch when joyriding. Not only could a sudden impact launch your dog causing him injury but dogs are understandably shaken up in these circumstances and most will try to escape the car by any means possible (think an open window). Securing your dog also ensures authorities will be able to help you if you are injured; your dog may become protective of you in a scary situation.
If you and your dog are in an accident here are some helpful tips my vet shared on what to watch for:
- Obvious signs of injury such as limping, bleeding etc
- Excessive panting. Panting can indicate pain but is also a sign of anxiety which is a normal reaction to a stressful situation. If your dog’s panting does not subside see your vet.
- Bruising – especially on the belly which can indicate internal bleeding
- Temperature – feel the ears to ensure one is not excessively hot or cold
- Inability to focus eyes – try having your dog follow a treat to test this
- Pupil dilation. Again, this can indicate fear as well but should subside quickly in that case. Prolonged pupil dilation calls for a vet visit immediately.
After an accident your dog may be fearful about car rides. Remedy this with short trips around the block and provide your pup with a chew or Kong to work on while you are on the road. This will help rebuild positive associations with car rides.
Safe travels to you and your dog!
Crate training can be beneficial to both human and canine companion if done correctly. The crate provides your dog a safe, quiet place to retreat from stressful situations and creates a recovery zone for your pooch after medical procedures when rest is what the doctor orders. Crates are also key in house training and eliminating destructive behavior and can be helpful during travel.
Follow these easy steps to get your dog off on the right paw:
- Size Matters – Make sure your pup can easily stand up, turn around and lay down in his crate. Most crates come with a divider that comes in handy for puppies during house training and allows the crate to grow with your dog
- Start Slow – Introduce the crate to your dog by leaving the door open and tossing treats inside to encourage them to explore the crate. Once your dog is going in the crate willingly to retrieve her treats begin to close the door behind her for a few seconds before allowing her out. Gradually increase the time the door is closed until she is comfortable inside for longer periods.
- Create Positive Associations – Help your pup learn to love his crate by feeding him his meals inside the crate. Be sure to provide toys and a chew bone or stuffed Kong to occupy him when he’s crated for extended periods
- Put It On Cue – Ask your dog to “go to your crate” and reward with a small treat for going inside; repeat. Leave the door open between training sessions so your dog can relax inside
- Tough Love – Ignore problem behaviors like whining in the crate. Wait until your dog is quiet before allowing him out in order to instill calm behavior in his den
- Use Wisely – Never use the crate as a punishment or “time out” place for your dog. A time out spot is an effective tool for eliminating undesirable behavior but has no place sharing your dog’s safe spot
- Play Time – Be sure your pup has adequate exercise and time outside the crate. Using the crate excessively – think 15 hours a day – is a surefire way to create a pup who runs when it’s time to go to his crate
- Cozy Up – Give your dog soft bedding or blankets (unless he’s the type to destroy these items) in his crate. Some dogs also prefer the crate to be covered with a blanket to create a dark den.
July 5 is the busiest day of the year for many shelters around the country. The fireworks on the fourth are scary for many dogs and some will do anything to escape the terrifying noise. Many of these frightened fidos end up in the shelter. Be sure to keep your dog safe this fourth with these quick tips:
- Outfit your pet with a collar with ID tag and a microchip
- Keep your dog indoors during the festivities
- Provide a safe room with calming music and special chews to keep your pup occupied
- If your pet is still unable to cope with the noise talk to your vet now about anti anxiety options to use on the fourth
For more tips on helping your dog stay safe and overcome fears associated with the fourth click here.
The holidays can be a celebration for people and pets alike but sometimes present unrealized risks. Check out a few holiday safety tips to keep your four-legged friends safe through all the presents and cheer!
- Be selective when sharing holiday treats. Choose fresh vegetables and lean cuts of meat (hold the rich gravy and spices).
- Put potentially dangerous gifts safely out of Fido’s reach. Chocolate and (Macadamia) nuts are abundant this time of year and toxic to pets. Always ask friends and family which gifts may contain harmful foods before putting them under the tree.
- Holly, misletoe, ivy, poinsettia and many varieties of lilies are highly toxic to pets. Either trade them for pet friendly options or make sure they are safely out of reach.
- Be mindful of ornament placement if you have a nosy pet. Keep glass and hooks out of your pets reach and replace tinsel and garland (which can be harmful if eaten) with bows and ribbon.
- Secure your tree to prevent it from being knocked over and hide cords to avoid chewing.
- Take your pet for a long walk or play session before leaving for holiday gatherings or having guests over. If you are having a large party be sure to provide your pet a safe, quiet room to go to if they are feeling overwhelmed. Even the most social of animals sometimes need a break.
- Be sure your pet has ID tags securely placed on his collar and be mindful that doors and gates are closed behind your guests.
- Supervise your pet if he is partaking in the unwrapping of gifts Christmas morning. Ribbons, plastic, batteries and parts of toys are all dangerous if ingested.
Wishing you and your furry family members safe and happy holiday season!