Halloween is a great opportunity for dog training. The uniqueness of the holiday provides some dog training experiences that you can take advantage of to help your dog get to the next level in his socialization and guest manners skills.
Socialize Your Puppy
Halloween is a prime opportunity to expose your puppy to new and interesting sights and sounds. Bring treats with you on every walk and say, "Yes!" or 'Click and Treat' every time your puppy sees halloween decorations, hears ghoulish sounds or meets trick-or-treaters. Remember, with socialization it is critical that your puppy is not showing signs of fear or you are going too quickly. When a puppy stops taking treats, that is a sure sign of fear. Move him or her farther away and give treats from this new distance.
Trick or treaters provide a perfect opportunity to teach a dog to be calm when the doorbell rings. Keep some treats in your pockets in anticipation of the little ghosts and goblins and practice this doorbell desensitization exercise:
- AS SOON as the doorbell rings, say, "Yes!" or 'Click' (if you are using a clicker) and drop treats on the ground
- As you notice that your dog's reactivity lessens throughout the evening (he might even start sniffing the ground after the doorbell!!) start talking to him more before giving treats
- By the end of the evening, try and walk him calmly to the door and have him sit after each ring
- Practice walking him to the door and sitting periodically between visitors to give him more practice
Have a Safe Place for Candy
It is easy to lose track of your child's bounty after a long night of trick or treating. Make sure to help your kids put the candy in safe place to avoid making your dog sick (or worse) after ingesting candy. Chocolate, macadamia nuts, raisins, and grapes are really bad for dogs and could prove fatal. Wrappings can also cause intestinal problems.