Halloween is a fun time for most people but chances are you have to make some accommodations for your dog during the trick-or-treat hours.
As a dog owner you have to remember that it's likely your dog will hear movement coming from the trick-or-treaters. This can cause stress on some dogs, specially if you're planning on giving candy away.
As a dog trainer, you can use this time to proof and generalize some obedience with your dog.
Here are some tips to help keep your dog comfortable:
1) POLISH UP YOUR "PLACE" COMMAND.
"Place" is such a useful command, it makes training very worth it. When your dog starts to show stress, put him on place and if he takes food, give him something to chew on, like an interactive toy or a bone. To further reinforce it, have him on leash to prevent him from leaving, pacing or scratching at your door.
If you have a place bed set up close to your door, consider moving it away from the door on that evening. The last thing you want is for your dog to get spooked by a trick-or-treater and have a bad experience or potentially show aggression.
2) CRATE YOUR DOG.
If your "place" command is not on point just yet, consider crating your dog that evening. I would highly suggest that you not wait till that evening before you start crating your dog as this can give the dog a negative association to the crate. Ensure your dog has several good experiences with the crate prior to that evening.
3) KEEP YOUR LIGHT OFF.
If your dog gets really stressed out by the trick-or-treaters, consider skipping the festivities. It's an option. You know your dog better than I do so you can do whatever you think is best. Some dogs can actually get really anxious by the traffic and constant bell ringing, making the evening stressful for EVERYONE involved.
4) CONSIDER MEDICATION.
Don't crucify me just yet! I'm not one to jump to medication right away. This is an option IF your dog gets incredibly anxious by the high traffic activity of Halloween, whether you give out candy or not. If you know your dog gets easily aroused or stressed to a point where it's very difficult to handle, medication may be an option. Something that will take the edge off your dog for a few hours. Consult with your veterinarian to see if this is a good option for your dog.
You may think, well, I'll just do what I do every year. And that works every year, great! Keep doing it. But if you recently adopted a dog, don't expect them to be OK with the hectic nature of this time of year. Have a plan and make sure your dog and your guests are safe and comfortable.
Share these tips with someone who owns a dog, specially if they live in an area where traffic is expected.