Prepare for Halloween & Bonfire Night
It can be a scary or over-exciting time for our dogs, so I am going to share my top tips! Take a pro-active approach and make Halloween and Bonfire Night as stress-free as possible for your dog.
Tip 1: BOOST OPTIMISM
You really can never play too many optimism boosting games! Even if you think you have played lots of optimism enhancing games, now is the time to re-focus on them to give your dog a needed boost ready for Halloween.
Creating an optimistic dog, is a dog who views any novel situation with a positive outcome. Let’s face it, during Halloween there is an abundance of novelty! Crazy costumes, more noise, fireworks and on Halloween night itself there is a hive of activity happening with lots of door knocking and visitors.
Start playing optimism enhancing games NOW! If you haven’t already, download the below eBook, inside there is a ton of info, including 24 OPTIMISM building games:
Tip 2: GROW CALMNESS
Above all, we want our dogs to be calm during Halloween and Bonfire Night, well anytime for that matter. To me it is the most important concept to grow in our dogs. Growing calmness generally is key. Now, rather than write how you work on growing calmness, I have an inspiring 30 minute Facebook live hosted Tom Mitchell (Absolute Dogs), where he talks about growing calmness. If you haven’t already; WATCH IT! Tom explains everything you need to know about calmness, what it really is, what it looks like and how to get it.
Tip 3: NOISY SESSIONS
During Halloween and Fireworks Night there is certainly more noise than normal, from door knocking or the door bell, children laughing, even screaming (!!), fireworks…gosh, there’s a lots of noise! To prep your dog for the impending noise explosion, give your dog a tasty stuffed kong and as they enjoy it and play some typical Halloween-type noises at a low level. The aim is that there is no response or acknowledgement from your dog, or if there is, they acknowledge but then calmly go back to their kong again. Work this over the course of a few sessions over the coming weeks, starting with the volume at a very low level, and then gradually increasing it.
Tip 4: BOUNDARY GAMES ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND
I do say this a lot but that’s because Boundary Games really do solve so many training challenges. Picture this; on Halloween night the door knocks and as you go to answer it, rather than a barking frenzy, your dog lays quietly on their bed. Want to know the secret to this success? You guessed it…..Boundary Games! Now, if you haven’t already started training boundary games, get on it! Here’s a step-by step zero to hero guide: https://game.absolute-dogs.com/boundary-games-ebook
Tip 5: HALLOWEEN & BONFIRE NIGHT NIGHT ITSELF
With lots of hustle and bustle, sometimes having your dog involved in ALL of the action isn’t really the best idea. With all the excitement, even if your dog enjoys it, this will add to their stress bucket. To ensure your dog has the best possible Halloween night and Bonfire night, I really like the idea of setting a quiet area for them; a room, or x-pen, or crate. Somewhere where they can feel safe. Prepare some tasty filled kongs, hooves and maybe have some bully sticks ready to go to give to your dog during the course of the evening. Perhaps intermittently enjoy some low level calmness games training sessions. One thing I’d avoid is taking your dog outside for a walk while the festivities of Halloween and Bonfire Night are going on and for bathroom breaks, I’d strongly recommend leashing your dog up before they go outside. Safety first!
About the Author: Kelly Murrell helps out with some of the work in the office at Devon Dogs, particularly with marketing and advertising. She used to work in the office at East Bowerland Farm, and recently moved to Vancouver Island, Canada with her husband. She is an avid dog trainer and regularly posts dog training tips for Devon Dogs, Bowerland and Progressive Paws.