As Halloween approaches, Guide Dogs is highlighting the importance of preparing puppies ahead of the big day, with Halloween festivities exposing young dogs to many potentially overwhelming new experiences.
Puppies are naturally curious but can become fearful when confronted with the unfamiliar. Early socialisation helps dogs to build confidence and adapt to new situations, making them more able to handle them calmly.
With the help of a Breeding Dog Holder volunteer and her family, Guide Dogs recently hosted a Halloween socialisation afternoon for a litter of seven five-week old prospective guide dog puppies, exposing them to new and unusual objects they might encounter during spooky season from real pumpkins and fancy dress to ghostly decorations.
As well as being alert to new and potentially scary experiences, the charity is also encouraging owners to be extra vigilant of what their dogs are eating at this tempting time of year, as Halloween typically sees a surge in pets getting hold of sweet treats, such as chocolate, which is poisonous to dogs.
To help get your puppy Halloween ready and avoid them getting spooked this Halloween, Hannah Wright, National Dog Training Lead for Guide Dogs, has shared the following top tips:
Walk your dog earlier in the day, before any trick-or-treaters are out on the streets. Plenty of exercise will also likely mean your dog is more relaxed and calmer in the evening if there are strange-looking visitors or noises outside.
If you know your dog may struggle when the areas around your house are busier, plan ahead and create some soothing enrichment activities you can do with them at home.
If you have children coming to your home for sweets, make sure your dog has a cosy quiet den well away from the front door. You can always leave a bowl outside on your front step with a sign to stop people knocking or ringing the doorbell. If you are not open to trick-or-treaters, make sure the front of your house is dark.
If your dog is frightened by someone in a costume or mask or struggles to recognise a family member when they are dressed up, don’t force them to interact. Halloween can be confusing – it’s best to remove strange accessories if it makes your dog feel more comfortable.
And leave the costumes for the humans. Dogs should not be dressed up in Halloween outfits, as they may find this a stressful experience. Such costumes can be hot, irritating or limit your dog’s movement.
The candle inside a jack-o’-lantern can be very dangerous; never leave a lit candle alone, and never have them on the floor when you have children or dogs present.
Keep all Halloween sweets and chocolate well out of reach, and make sure any visiting children know they are not to share any of their treats with pets. Chocolate, raisins and the sweetener Xylitol are all toxic to dogs, and ingesting plastic wrappers or foil can cause issues too.
All throughout June, our Volunteering Coordinators and local volunteering staff have been busy throwing Local Volunteer Awards across over 20 of our local sites featuring guest speakers, entertainment performances and plenty of snacks and goodies to go along with it.
It's National Puppy Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a montage of hundreds of photos of the very best pups around?
With chocolate and hot cross buns strictly off limits for dogs, why not try a canine-friendly version of a traditional Easter egg hunt? Teaching the ‘Find it!’ cue and hiding toys and dog treats instead in a safe space can ensure your pets don’t miss out on the fun.