It’s all too easy to say, “our dog isn’t that bothered”, or “it’s only a quick walk for a wee,” and fail to take necessary precautions when taking your dog out during spooky season. With a past of working in a dog rescue and a veterinary practice, I’ve seen the worst incidents come from this season. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the owners said: “we never thought they were bothered by it.”
Dogs can’t tell you when their stress threshold becomes dangerously close to breaking point – not with words, anyway. Some can hide the fact that they’re almost pushed over the edge. Therefore, it is our responsibility to safeguard our dogs against dangerous situations which can cause them to snap.
Like the event with Axl and the Scream guy on Halloween, incidents can come out of nowhere, when you least expect it and are at your most distracted.
Here are our top tips for protecting your dog against potentially harmful situations, so you can both stay happy, calm, and safe.
Strong, sturdy leads and escape-proof harnesses are a must. We recommend triple checking that your dog’s harness is the right size and fit and having a double connection training lead that can attach at two points on your dog. This ensures escaping is impossible.
Please don’t attach your dog's lead straight to their collar – collars can almost always be slipped off with the right force.
Furthermore, please don’t have your dog off lead in the dark around Halloween and bonfire night. Dogs do get spooked, even if they never have before. When they are scared, they will run aimlessly into anything – including the road.
If you can, keep walks short and sweet, and stick to daylight hours and familiar routes. Work on some skills at home to replace longer walks, and your dog will still get enough exercise.
Check out our collection of walking accessories to keep your walkies safe and enjoyable.
Safety at home
The capability and strength of a scared dog are always a surprise. Dogs can dig holes, chew fences, destroy them completely or even jump them, all in a surprisingly rapid fashion. My last dog, Logan, barged through our fence panels whilst out for a ten-second wee after getting spooked.
If you know your dog is wary of fireworks, we recommend letting them out for the toilet on a long line lead, even in the garden.
With regards to fencing: we recommend before spooky season begins that you double-check how secure your garden is. Check your fences for weak spots, fix broken latches and holes, and move things away from your fence that your dog can use to scale the walls and escape. If you can’t fix these things right now, then make sure your dog is on a lead when they’re let outside – even if it’s only for ten seconds.
Answering the door
While trick or treaters may seem like a delight to you, they’re not for your dog, who has no idea what is happening. Unless you typically get 20 visitors in one night all dressed in costume and screaming with excitement (no judgement here if so), it’s likely to be very stressful for them.
Even the most relaxed, people-loving, chilled-out dogs can snap in a second if they feel threatened. We recommend keeping your dog away from the front door, either in another room where no one can bother them, or at the very least behind a baby gate (make sure they can’t jump over it).
The consequences of your dog feeling threatened can be devastating – so please don’t take them to the front door with you.
Spooky season is my favourite time of year. It’s very tempting to include our besties in our celebrations (who doesn’t love a dog in a costume?) but it’s important to remember what is fun to us, can be world-ending to them.
Don’t set your dog up for failure, and instead ensure they’re getting their needs fulfilled and that they’re safe and sound at home during the festivities.
Sweater weather is a vibe – stressed doggos is not. Check out our favourite tools to use to keep them relaxed year-round in our shop!