Santa Clarita, Calif., October 28, 2014 — From carving pumpkins and dressing in costume to telling ghost stories and trick-or-treating, Halloween is a fun occasion for children and adults. It can however, be a real nightmare for pets. The Pet Poison Hotline reports that during the week of Halloween, calls increase by 12 percent making it the center’s busiest time of year. Animal Behavior College (ABC) not only asks pet owners to take precautions to keep their four-legged friends safe, but also encourages dog owners to use this time as a training opportunity.
“The days before Halloween are an ideal time to train and prepare your dog for the actual night,” said Heidi Voll, program manager of Animal Behavior College’s Dog Obedience Program (DOP) and a professional dog trainer. “With continuous doorbell ringing by overzealous trick-or-treaters and the screams and laughter of ghosts and goblins running up and down the street, dogs can easily become overexcited and fearful. Teaching them training basics and making appropriate accommodations when necessary will eliminate stress and ensure a happy and safe celebration.”
ABC’s three dog-training tips:
1. To desensitize the dog to the sound of the doorbell ringing, have a family member or friend ring the doorbell, but nobody is there. Do not react. Lack of reaction indicates that the sound means nothing. Do this repeatedly several times a day for a week or a few days before Halloween.
2. While teaching the dog doorbell conduct, reinforce the Sit-Stay command. Have someone open and close the front door. Reward and praise him every time he follows commands and remains calm. Repeat this process often a week or a few days before.
3. On Halloween night, have someone else handout treats. Keep the dog on a leash at your side. Every time he displays the appropriate behavior and listens to commands, provide a reward treat. If you are taking the dog trick-or-treating with the family, be mindful that some dogs are afraid of inflated or kinetic decorations. If your dog displays fear, stop and ask him to Sit-Stay. When he follows your command, reward with a treat.
In addition to pre-Halloween dog training, ABC recommends five Halloween pet safety tips:
Prepare in Advance. Ensure your pet is microchipped with current contact information and is wearing a secure collar with appropriate ID tags. This will prove helpful in locating him in case he manages to escape.
Contain and Control. Do not allow your dog to roam in the yard or have free access to entranceways where trick-or-treaters come in. Keep him leashed by your side or move him to a quiet room in another area of the house. If you own a cat, especially a black cat, keep him inside to ensure he is safe from harm.
Avoid Dangerous Decorations. A tail-wagging dog and a curious cat can accidentally knock items over and wreak havoc on decorations. Keep pumpkins with burning candles, fake dangling cobwebs, costume accessories and other harmful and potentially dangerous decorations up and out of reach.
Eerie-Costumed Strangers. Some pets are fearful of strangers and become anxious. They view strangers as intruders. Keep pets calm and away from the fray by moving them to a safe and quiet room where they can feel secure.
No Tricks, No Treats. If having a Halloween party, set ground rules for guests. Rich and spicy table foods and candy, especially chocolate, can be dangerous and even fatal to dogs and cats. Ask guests not to feed them and ensure unattended alcoholic beverages are not within the dog’s reach. If possible, move animals to a quite area of the house away from the melee. Be sure to check occasionally to ensure there is plenty of water.
Animal Behavior College offers certifications and continuing education programs. To become a dog trainer, obtain dog-training certification, enroll in the Dog Obedience Program (DOP), Veterinary Assistant Program (VAP) or the Grooming Instruction Program (GIP), visit our website at www.AnimalBehaviorCollege.com/info or call 1-800-795-3294.