Halloween can be the most stressful holiday of the year for dogs after the 4th of July. With all the noisy decorations, parties, and people coming to the door, knocking, ringing the bell, and yelling, “Trick-or-treat!” your dog can start to feel very anxious, especially if they’re already prone to noise anxiety. If your pup isn’t a fan of Halloween because of all the scary noises, here are a few steps you can take to reduce their anxiety.
Keep Them In A Secure Place
Your dog should stay locked in a secure, comfortable room where they can lie down and relax. This room should be as far from the door as possible to reduce the noise from trick-or-treaters and the sound of the door opening and closing. This will also prevent the possibility of your dog bolting outside when they get scared, which happens all too often to pets on Halloween. Make sure to check on your pup frequently and take them out for potty breaks.
Put On Music
You should place a radio or television in your dog’s room and turn the volume to a level that will help drown out the noise. Put on something soothing that won’t startle your pup and trigger their noise anxiety. Relaxing orchestral music is always a good choice, but maybe not the “Monster Mash.”
Inform Any Guests
If you are having a Halloween party, make sure your guests know where your dog is and to leave them be. People may be excited to see your pup, but this probably isn’t the appropriate environment. Let your guests know that your dog’s room is off limits and to keep the noise level reasonable near that room.
Train The Anxiety Away
It will take some time, but you can use certain exposure techniques to treat your dog’s anxiety. Steadily exposing them to the sound of knocking and doorbells and creating positive associations with these sounds over time will help reduce the fear on Halloween. This takes a lot of practice and hard work, so don’t expect your dog to just be fine over night.
Get A Pressure Wrap
The Thundershirt is probably the best-known pressure wrap that helps reduce anxiety in dogs. Pressure wraps surround a dog’s torso and chest with gentle, constant pressure. It provides comfort, security, and a distraction from the noise. They don’t work for every dog, but they help for a lot of fearful pups.
Change Your Dog’s Diet
Some studies have shown that diets with higher levels of L-Tryptophan–the stuff that makes you sleepy when you eat too much turkey–and other nutrients may help reduce stress in dogs. While changing your dog’s diet won’t cure anxiety, it can help reduce stress when used along with other methods. Talk to your veterinarian about dietary changes before you make them.
Take your dog for a long walk before the action starts. Tiring your dog out will help them rest easier and maybe even sleep through some of the anxiety-causing noises. Exercise also stimulates the production of serotonin, the same chemical that makes you feel good after a workout. This will help reduce fearful reactions and eliminate some of that nervous energy.
If all else fails, you may want to take a trip to the vet to see if there are any recommended medications your dog can take to reduce anxiety. Make sure you thoroughly investigate any medication for risks and side effects. Some are given daily to treat anxiety, while others are given only at the time of a stressful situation. Make sure you know what you’re doing. Medication may not be right for every dog, but it definitely helps for others.
Be sure to follow our other safety tips for dogs on Halloween, even if your dog doesn’t suffer from noise anxiety. What other steps do you take to make your dog comfortable in noisy situations? Let us know in the comments below.