I know what you’re thinking? Is she for real? With all of those kids knocking ringing the doorbell with those scary costumes I’m just too busy to train my dog. Let me offer a few suggestions on how you can use this opportunity to your advantage.
And don’t forget to train your family to keep candy up high and out of reach of your dog. We all know that chocolate and artificial sweeteners are harmful to our dogs.
Who are you? Is your dog a “scaredy cat”, “escape artist”, “bold greeter”?
Once you identify the personality and stye of your dog you can choose from several options the most important being securing the environment.
For “scaredy cats” why not choose a festive holiday bandana and spray a little Adaptil on it? You can put on some nice quiet music to screen out the noise outside and if your dog likes their crate, this is a nice secure environment. I often use treat release toys and always exercise before crating so that they are tired. You can also use an Adaptil plug-in for the room environment. Signs of fear include a tucked tail, showing the whites of the eyes, panting and yawning and can lead to aggression with stiff body posture, ears forward tail wagging in a stiff manner or carried over the back. If you cannot crate your dog closing the door and putting a sign that the dog is in the room is another idea or you can use a gate.
For the “escape artist” there are the choices of using the crate or gates but another idea is to use the umbilical method where the dog is actually attached to you. This often helps those dogs that cannot be left alone but at the same time pose an escape risk. I arm myself with high value treats like chicken or steak in a treat pouch and use this opportunity to teach my dog to do a behavior when the doorbell rings. I place a little platform in the room and when the doorbell rings I send my dog to the platform. To make things easier I place a bowl outside of the door with a sign instructing them to take a treat. This way I can see their costumes, greet them and let them catch a glimpse of my well-trained dog.
For the “bold greeter” I once again pack a treat pouch with high value treats and take a nice walk in my neighborhood. Look for signs of fear as described above. If you dog carries himself in a loose and wiggly manner and enjoys the walk with all the little ones running around you can practice some obedience basics with distractions at a distance. This is a great opportunity for socialization and distraction training.
Remember if children run toward you this can be frightening to your dog and it’s important to ask them to approach slowly and greet the dog by having him sniff their hands. If you do not want to greet it’s okay to simply walk away and return home. Your dog comes first. You can also use a no-jump harness to get a better control on things but please no prongs or choke collars because often dogs make the incorrect assumption that the child approaching caused the correction.
Happy Halloween to everyone and happy training!