Following the recent release of the film It starring everyone’s favourite clown Pennywise – it’s clear we’re a nation that loves to be scared.
And as we head towards Halloween, houses will be adorned with scary spooks and costumes will be donned as people hide behind masks in order to shock their friends and neighbours.
Whilst this is a bit of fun for many people, our pet dogs can sometimes find this distressing – especially if they are part of the outfit! If your dog is nervous around strangers imagine opening the door to a masked ghoul or being around groups of excited youngsters or being dressed as a walking pumpkin!
As part of its “Happy Dogs, Happy Days” campaign, Lintbells, manufacturers of premium pet supplement YUCALM, is working with dog behavioural expert Dr. Emily Blackwell to help owners spot - and deal with – anxiety in their pet around Halloween.
“When it comes to celebrating Halloween it’s important to remember that it should be fun for the whole family – and of course this always includes your pet pooch,” said Dr. Blackwell PhD, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Welfare and Behaviour at University of Bristol.
“So this Halloween consider these three areas of possible concern to your pet dog.”
Dr Blackwell’s top three areas to consider this Halloween:
Ghouls at the door
“If your dog is nervous around new people then groups of people in fancy dress at your door could be terrifying.
“If you anticipate anxiety in your pet then why not shelter them from this by keeping them away from the frivolity and giving them a tasty treat or fun game to play. These fun pastimes can also be used to create a positive association with sounds such as the doorbell.
Things that go bump in the night
“Unusual new items may be presented during times of fancy dress – for example, expect an influx of broom sticks at your front door! If a new item evokes fear or unusual behaviour in your dog it’s a good time to tackle this.
“If your dog does show signs of anxiety try introducing new things gradually in a calm environment and associate them with something good.
“And if or when your pet reacts to a new object or noise outside, never tell them off - even if they are barking - this will simply increase their fear.
Doggy dress up
“Before you decide to create an elaborate costume for this Halloween involving your pet, ask yourself if your dog really likes dressing up.
“Although your dog may appear to ‘tolerate’ being dressed up, a motionless, passive dog may in fact be “freezing” because they are frightened. Dogs restricted by clothing will often show a reluctance to walk and sadly this anxiety is sometimes misinterpreted as ‘calmness’.
“Some Halloween headwear can also make it very difficult for dogs to communicate using their ears and facial expression. Other dogs may behave strangely towards them too as they ‘look’ peculiar.
“Remember to be aware of these signs and do not carry on dressing up your dog if they appear anxious.
“If you remain concerned that your dog may be experiencing anxiety you should contact your vet or a Qualified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB) for advice.”
If you are concerned that your dog may be experiencing some anxiety Lintbells also offer natural calming supplements, such as YuCALM Dog which can be added to their diet to help reduce dog anxiety.