Dogs Trust share tips for helping keep dogs calm this Halloween

by Rachel Darcy

Ahead of Halloween this weekend, Dogs Trust have published their guidelines for how to prepare your dogs for fireworks and all things spooky during the annual holiday.

Reminding humans that dogs’ hearing is approximately four times more sensitive than ours, Dogs Trust say that fireworks can be much louder for dogs, causing them upset. This, teamed with the unfamiliar sight and smell of fireworks in the air can also make them uncomfortable, especially if it’s something that they haven’t experienced before.

To prepare your dog before fireworks begin, Dogs Trust advise:

  • Walk your dog before dark – make sure your dog is well exercised and has had a toilet break before the fireworks begin.
  • Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as he may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
  • Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks as fear may make your dog try to escape. Make sure your dog’s microchip details are up to date too, just in case they do manage to get out.
  • Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar safe surroundings it will help him cope with the noise. You can read our tips for settling your dog here.
  • Provide a safe hiding place – at noisy times around Hallowe’en, make sure your dog has somewhere safe in his or her favourite room, perhaps under the table. Close the curtains, turn the lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out the firework noises. Try creating a doggy den by throwing a blanket over a table to make them feel more secure.

The charity also shared how to help your dog during fireworks:

  • Don’t punish your dog for cowering or reacting to the fireworks as this will intensify his fear. You should aim to remain relaxed and therefore provide a good role model to your dog when he is afraid. However, if your dog comes to you for comfort don’t ignore him – interact with him calmly.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in the house during the fireworks period – he may panic, and this could result in an injury.
  • Keep your dog busy indoors – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep his mind off the noises. However, if he just wants to hide away then don’t force him to come out of his hiding place, allow him to stay where he feels safe.
  • Be extra careful when opening the door as your dog may try to escape; if possible, try to ensure there is another closed door between your dog and your front door and get in the habit of clipping on your dog’s lead before opening the front door, if going for a walk.

Other Halloween Tips from Dogs Trust include:

  • Be mindful of the other strange sights that dogs may see during Halloween. People wearing masks and costumes will be very confusing for dogs, particularly if they recognise the scent of a person, but not their appearance. Do not force your dog to receive any unwanted attention from people in costumes, family members included.
  • Never force your dog to wear a dog costume – loosely tied festive doggie bandanas are usually more acceptable for dogs.
  • Make sure that your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag and that his microchip details are up to date via www.fido.ie in case he escapes.
  • Keep treats and sweets away from your furry friends. Chocolate, raisins, grapes and the sweetener xylitol are toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten anything he shouldn’t, please call your local veterinary practice immediately and always store their out of hours’ emergency number on your phone.
  • As well as keeping your dog safe, it is important to ensure that you can make the night as enjoyable as possible by keeping him distracted with treats and games. Give your dog a long-lasting chew or feeding toy jam packed with tasty goodies, which will help keep him busy and calm. For more fun enrichment ideas to keep your dog’s mind off things, check out these videos!

Related Articles