Crazy decorations, fancy costumes and bowls full of delicious sweets - for us, Halloween is often a day of fun with family and friends. However, while we all love the ghoulish decorations and spooktacular costumes, all these new noises, shapes and surprises can be difficult for your pet to understand, especially when you add in excitable children and the doorbell going off every few minutes.
Then after all this comes Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve celebrations – more loud and hectic events that can be scary for dogs and upsetting for pet owners to see, often going on for weeks at a time. According to the PDSA, 40% of dog owners have reported that their pet is afraid of fireworks and 24% of loud noises in general – that’s an estimated 3.6 million terrified dogs!
Halloween and Fireworks season doesn’t have to be a distressing time for you or your furry friends. Lintbells, manufacturers of premium natural pet supplements, have put together some useful tips on how you can support your dog stay happy and relaxed this winter.
Understanding your dog’s behaviour
Being able to read your dog’s behaviour to certain situations is the key to understanding how to support them to remain calm and happy. The best way to do this is to take a P.E.E.P at your pet, to see if they exhibit any of the following signs:
P = Posture – Is your pet hunched, tense, cowering or defensive?
E = Eyes – Are their eyes wide, strained or pupils dilated?
E = Ears – Does it look like their ears are flattened or pinned back?
P = Position – Is your pet turning away, hiding or fleeing/freezing?
If you do spot any of these signs in your dog there is a high chance they are feeling anxious amongst all the winter festivities – but don’t worry, there are steps you can take to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.
Trick or Treat?
If your confident canine loves nothing better than going on new adventures and meeting people, taking them trick or treating can be a fun way to spend some quality time together - and a great opportunity for lots of cuddles! For nervous pets however, being around loud noises, new faces or having to wear a costume can be distressing. If you aren’t sure whether to take them make sure to check your dog’s reactions to scary costumes, new sounds and meeting strangers beforehand: if you can see they are nervous in these situations it’s best to leave them safely at home with a sitter or trusted friend, for a cosy night in where they feel safe. When you get back make sure to give your pooch only dog food or treats - as tempting as it may be to share your chocolate and sweets, these are often toxic to our pets. They will enjoy their own food just as much and their tummies will thank you too!
The Doorbell Devil
If your dog gets worked up by the sound of the doorbell, Halloween can become a tricky time for both you and your four-legged friend. To support them through this, it’s best to keep them in the room furthest away from the front door. It’s also a good idea to keep someone with your dog throughout the evening so that they have someone to play with and reassure them if need be - dogs are pack animals and so feel more confident and secure in the presence of others. If the doorbell rings and they remain focused on play, it’s good to reward the positive behaviour with treats so your dog can learn to change their reaction.
Fireworks going off throughout the winter season often makes this time of year terrifying for the nation’s dogs, with unexpected and loud bangs going off across a number of weeks. Make sure to create a safe haven for your pet and train them to settle into this area when they begin to show signs of nerves. Place a comfy bed inside, with extra blankets for them to burrow in. Playing some calming background music or turning on the TV can help to drown out the loud noises that occur suddenly. When your dog is in an agitated state make sure not to stroke them as this can be interpreted as a reward for nervous behaviour – similarly baby talking or verbally consoling your pet can make them think there is something to fear. Keep your voice low and calm and comfort your pup by placing a still, reassuring hand on them or keeping your body near to help them feel safe.
Support your dog naturally
Supporting your dog with a natural calming supplement like Lintbells YuCALM can make a tail-wagging difference to how they feel during Halloween and Fireworks season. Formulated with Lemon Balm, B-Vitamins and L-Theanine, it’s proven to soothe anxious pets by supporting natural calming pathways in the brain. YuCALM is now available in a tasty ONE-A-DAY chew, making administration easy for you and your dog – to see the full benefits it’s best to start three to six weeks before, so now is the best time to start a calming supplement to provide your pet with the support they need.
For more information about Lintbells please visit www.lintbells.com or to speak to a member of the team please call 01462 416866.