Reducing Your Dog’s Anxiety on Halloween

A Guide on Getting Your Dog Through This Spooky Holiday Season

Halloween is upon us, and while many of us are picking out costumes, planning parties, and buying boat-loads of candy, our four-legged friends are gearing up to totally lose their cool. Here’s the thing— dogs and humans aren’t all that different when it comes to fears and phobias. Many dogs, like many humans, are creatures of habit, and it’s super easy for them to develop anxieties.

Holidays, in particular, are major triggers for dog anxiety.

But don’t worry.

If Fido hides under the bed, pees on the carpet, tears up your new stilettos, or flat-out refuses to stop barking every time Halloween rolls around, My Dog Spot is here to help.

Keep reading to learn more about anxiety in dogs and how you can help get your anxious pup through Halloween.

 

Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs – Understanding Fido’s Anxious Behaviors

Before we cover how you can help reduce your dog’s Halloween-induced anxiety, let’s first talk about the symptoms. Many dog owners unknowingly make their dog’s anxiety worse simply by misunderstanding which behaviors are anxious behaviors and which behaviors are ornery behaviors.

Some common symptoms of dog anxiety include:

• Potty Accidents: Like humans, many dogs can suffer an upset stomach due to stress or anxiety. If your dog is usually good about being accident-free but suddenly has an accident, he may be anxious or scared.

• Changes in Appetite: An anxious dog may lose his appetite and can forgo meals altogether. Sometimes even treats won’t be enough to bribe your anxious pooch to eat.

• Isolation or Avoidance: My dog likes to hide under the bed when she knows it’s bath time. This is a clear indication to me that she’s anxious and scared. If you suddenly find your dog hiding in the back of the closet or under the kitchen table, he may be trying to tell you he’s nervous.

• Excessive Yawning, Licking, Or Preening: Some people confuse yawning, excessive licking, and preening in their dogs to be random annoying habits, but these behaviors can really be symptoms of anxiety in dogs. Just as humans may bite their nails out of anxiety, a dog may develop obsessive behaviors to try and soothe himself or keep himself busy during anxious situations.

• Aggressive or Destructive Behaviors: Fearful dogs can turn to aggressive behaviors if they feel cornered or if they feel they are in danger.

Remember, it is always best to give your dog space if you can tell he is experiencing anxiety. Unless he comes to you for comfort, we suggest you take it slow with him. Anxious dogs can also be prone to nervous chewing and other destructive behaviors. For this reason, many owners opt to put their dogs in a safe place like a crate during times like Halloween so that they cannot harm themselves or their surroundings.

 

Why Does Halloween Trigger My Dog’s Anxiety?

Halloween is a crazy fun holiday for many people, but not everyone is a fan. Dogs can be especially sensitive to sensory overload, and many dogs already suffer from doorbell anxieties, stranger phobias, and noise fears. Holidays like Halloween seem to amplify these things, which can really turn your pet’s world upside down. For the dog who is prone to anxiety, and even the confident dog who isn’t, holidays like Halloween can be a lot to handle. So, how can My Dog Spot help you to get your dog through this Halloween in Pasadena?

Let’s find out!

 

My Dog Spot’s Tips and Tricks to Getting Your Anxious Dog Through Halloween

One of the best tricks to calming your dog’s anxiety is to make sure he doesn’t have tons of excess energy to burn before going into Halloween night. A nice long walk a few hours before the fun is set to begin could help to reduce your dog’s anxiety ten-fold. Don’t have time to walk your dog? Don’t worry. You can easily book professional and insured dog walkers in your area now through My Dog Spot.  But what else can you do to help your dog stay calm, especially in the midst of all the action? Along with some good exercise a few hours before the big event, you may want to consider counter conditioning. Counter conditioning is a term that simply means training your dog to get used to the things that set him off.

For example, if Fido goes crazy each time he hears the doorbell ring, you can try using clickers and treats to condition him. A week or so before Halloween night, begin training your dog so that when he hears the doorbell, he gets a treat. Eventually, he will begin to associate the sound with something positive, meaning peace and quiet for the both of you! It is important to always make any training session as positive of an experience as you possibly can for your dog.

 

Don’t Scold Them

Avoid scolding him or punishing him when he makes mistakes, and instead reward him with praise and treats when he does something correctly. On the night of Halloween, you may decide to put your dog in a back room away from all the chaos. This is an excellent idea. If you have a dog who is prone to destructive behaviors such as chewing or potty accidents when he is anxious, it may be a good idea to also put him in his crate. Many dogs find their crates to be a soothing, safe place anyway, so this could also help to lower his anxiety levels. You can also play soothing music for your dog to help drown out any noise from the Halloween fun.

Studies show that dogs respond best to classical music like Bach or Beethoven. We absolutely love this playlist of relaxing music for dogs.

 

Other Products to Help to Sooth Your Anxious Dog Year-Round

Along with relaxing remedies like crating in a back room, counter conditioning, and relaxing music, you may also want to try some amazing dog-calming products. Some of our favorite products for keeping our doggy clients relaxed at My Dog Spot are calming collars, Thundershirts, diffuser Kits, Anti-Stress tablets, and anxiety relief dog beds. Also, this is the perfect season to let you in on a little secret—if your dog has an upset stomach due to anxiety and stress, feel free to offer him a few teaspoons of canned pumpkin! Pumpkin is full of fiber and beta-carotene, which can help relieve diarrhea in dogs. However, you should never give your dog raw pumpkin or more cooked pumpkin than the suggested amount for his weight and size.

You will also want to make sure that the pumpkin is dog-friendly and free of added sugars, dies, and seasonings. Luckily, most pet stores carry canned pumpkin, making access to the right kind easy and safe.

For more great products and to spoil your pet rotten right here in Pasadena, visit our favorite local pet store, My Pet Garden!

References

The Influence of Auditory Stimulation on the Behaviour of Dogs Housed in a Rescue Shelter, Wells, D.L., Graham, L., Hepper, P.G.

The Effect of a Pressure Wrap (ThunderShirt) on Heart Rate and Behavior in Canines Diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 9, Issue 5, Camille King, Laurie Buggington, Thomas J. Smith, Temple Grandin

The Influence of Olfactory Stimulation on the Behaviour of Dogs Housed in a Rescue Shelter, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Lynne Graham, Deborah L. Wells, Peter G Hepper

Efficacy of a Remote-Controlled, Positive-Reinforcement, Dog-Training System for Modifying Problem Behaviors Exhibited When People Arrive at the Door, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Sophia Yin, Eduardo J. Fernandez, Sabrina Paga, Sarah L. Richardson, Greg Snyder

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COVID-19

IS IT SAFE TO STILL HAVE MY DOG WALKED?

 

Yes, it is still safe and we would recommend trying to keep your dog on its regular schedule as much as possible. This will reduce any anxiety and stress that your dog may begin to feel during this period of isolation.

Safety and cleanliness have always been a top priority at My Dog Spot.

 

It is our ongoing policy to wash hands and use sanitizer between each visit. In addition to these ordinary precautions our walkers will now wear a new pair of sanitary gloves for each appointment.  

 

At pick up and drop off, we will use our own leashes to walk or transport your pups so that your leashes are not handled by anyone other than you and when returning your dog, we will make sure that your dog has been wiped down from head to tail including all four paws.

For more information on your pet and COVID-19 read our current blog: A Pet Parent's Guide to Managing COVID-19 and Social Isolation

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