Although Halloween is normally a scary time, this entire year has turned out to be, at best, a very trying and unpredictable experience. Many communities have decided not to celebrate Halloween, or at least scale it back to something very different than most of us have experienced in the past. On the other hand, some communities are going to celebrate Halloween so that the kids can get their candy but still be safe. As dog owners, we are faced with two tasks. The first is to decide if we want to participate in Halloween this year and, if so, what we should do to keep everyone safe while having a good time. The other task is to make sure that our dogs are also safe and happy while our Halloween festivities are taking place. The excellent news is that both of these tasks can be accomplished at once.
“Social distancing” means that we should wear a mask if we are within six feet of other people. It also suggests that being outside where there is a breeze and natural air flow is far safer than being in a confined area. A great way to accomplish this while still having a lot of “Halloween fun” is to set up a “Halloween Booth” at the end of your driveway. Put out some Halloween decorations in the yard and light it up so that it is “scary-festive”. Have a nice big table in your “Halloween Booth” with bowls filled with individually wrapped goodies.
You can be standing near the table or sitting on either side so that the kids can come up to the bowls to get their candy while you remain at a safe distance. Just like in the stores, mark big circles on the ground where the “ghosts and goblins” need to stand while they are waiting their turn to “trick or treat” and get their candy. You can make it fun and make the spots ghosts or pumpkins. Mark them “1”, “2”, “3”, etc. so they can be excited about getting closer to the candy.
If you are sitting in chairs, mark twelve-foot diameter circles and put your chairs in the middle. That will show all your neighbors how back they should be from you. You can also do something fun like marking the circle “Zombie-Free Zone”. Since you are outside and “social distancing”, you don’t need to wear masks. If you want to wear a mask, make it something in line with your costume or the “theme” of your “Halloween Booth”.
Now that you are all set, let’s move on to your dog’s situation. Feed him earlier than normal so that he has finished his dinner an hour or two before the Trick or Treat festivities are scheduled to begin. Next, have him outside in the back yard for a very strenuous and engaging play time. Throw the ball for him, engage him in a game of “find the toy”, and just keep him running and playing. When you bring him in, he will be worn out and ready to relax for the evening.
When the Trick or Treat time starts, you should keep your dog inside and away from all the strange and scary activities going on outside and in front of your house. Have a family member remain with him and keep his leash on. Have him in a room that does not face the front street or has any view of “ghosts and goblins” passing outside. It is better if the room is also quiet so your dog doesn’t get excited from hearing all the trick or treat commotion that is taking place outside. Have the TV on so that there is plenty of “internal white noise”.
Switch off doggie-sitters from time to time so that each family member can have some time with the Trick or Treaters and that your dog will have a new buddy. From time to time, take him for a calm and quiet walk around the house with the leash. If, for any reason, he starts to act up because of strange noises, walk him around the house to calm him. Have him refocus on you. With that said, you need to stay calm and focused on him to communicate that all is fine.
One last thing, make sure that you place all the Halloween candy in a place where your dog can not “find it”. This means that your kids can’t keep their stash on their bedroom floor or on their bed. You can’t keep any left-over candy on the table by the front door. There are a lot of things in candy bars that can be poisonous to your dog.
Follow these simple tips and you should have a safe, happy, and “pleasingly scary” Halloween 2020.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over fifteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.