Dogs Trust

Halloween Preparation for your Dog

halloween; dog; fireworks

With Halloween fast approaching, now is the time to start getting your dog prepared to deal with fireworks! 

With this in mind, we have added ‘Sounds Scary’ below which helps your dog to become slowly accustomed to the sounds of fireworks over a period of weeks.

Sounds Scary is not only backed by years of clinical experience; it is also scientifically proven to be safe, effective and easy to use.

Try out our Sound Therapy with your dog today, have a read of the instruction book first!

Sounds Scary Booklet PDF 1.77 MB

Over the Halloween period, if your dog has only recently developed sensitivity to fireworks or noises, try to act as if there is nothing to be scared of – jolly him along and praise him for responding positively. However, if your dog has a serious or long-standing phobia, give him attention if he requires it – he’ll be too scared for this to act as a reward, so it won’t encourage the unwanted behaviour and instead he will benefit from the comfort that this gives him. Essentially though, try to find out what helps him to cope and be sure to let him do this, – e.g. letting him hide under the table – don’t try to coax him out, if this is where he feels safest – he’ll come out when he’s ready and then you can praise him.

Should you fear your dog will still be upset by fireworks, despite following the Sounds Scary programme, perhaps consider some of the following:

  • ThunderShirts – a calming vest that applies gentle, constant pressure that may help your dog feel safe and secure (available in some pet shops and online).
  • Adaptil spray, collar or plug in diffuser – releases dog appeasing pheromones that help calm your dog (available from most veterinary practices).
  • Pet Remedy – a blend of essential oils that can help calm the nerves of anxious or stressed pets (available online).
  • Keep your dog busy with interactive toys such as those that can be stuffed with tasty treats, such as K9 Connectables or even make your own by making plaits from old towels and adding treats as you plait.
  • Maybe even consider asking a friend or relative who lives in a rural area that will have little or no fireworks on Halloween night if your dog can sleep over.

At very noisy times around Halloween, provide your dog with a safe hiding place (a suitably sized cardboard box would do) in his favourite room of the house and close the curtains. If it is not possible to black out your windows, consider taping black bin liners to them. Also turn up the volume of your television or radio to drown out the firework noises. Remember not to shut any internal doors, as your dog may feel trapped and panic.

Please don’t leave your dog alone in the house, as he may panic and injure himself.

A stodgy high-carbohydrate meal (e.g. with well-cooked rice or pasta) in the late afternoon may help make your dog feel more sleepy and calm during the evening. Also make sure he goes out for a walk and to toilet before it gets dark and the fireworks start.

Please consult your vet if you think your pet will really struggle this Halloween with fireworks as there are now several anxiety reducing drugs available for dogs.

Your family should also consider the following points to ensure the safety of your dog during this spooky time:

  • Do not leave your dog alone outdoors during the Halloween period, scared dogs will make desperate attempts to escape and there is the danger of him being injured by a stray firework or even stolen.
  • Be extra careful when opening the door as your dog may escape; if possible, try to ensure there is another closed door between your dog and your front door. Please also make sure that your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag and that his microchip details are up to date via www.fido.ie in case he escapes (microchipping and the possession of a microchipping certificate are legal requirements).
  • Never force your dog to wear a dog costume – loosely tied festive doggie bandanas are usually more acceptable to dogs.
  • Keep the treats and sweets away. Chocolate, raisins and the sweetener xylitol are poisonous to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten anything he shouldn’t, please call your local veterinary practice immediately and always store their out of hours emergency number on your phone.
  • Do not force your dog to receive any unwanted attention even from family members, as they may not recognise people in costumes.
  • Please think twice about taking your dog on a trick or treat outing. The extra excitement around the event and meeting strangers may cause him distress.
  • Keep lit pumpkins out of your dog’s reach as they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking them over and causing a fire.

Please keep a close watch on your dog this Halloween to reduce any chance of distress, so that he and the rest of the family can enjoy the celebrations without any mishaps.

We hope you and your dogs have a safe Halloween!