Discover more from Black Girl in a Doggone World™
5 tips to help your dog behave this Halloween
From brooms to black cats, Halloween decor can create chaos
Halloween used to be a good time for haunted houses, chocolate and sugary candy, fun costumes, wild home decor and trick-or-treaters, but pets have made holiday enthusiasts move differently. As with fireworks on the Fourth of July, pet owners’ ears are on high alert for their dogs’ sake. Even common sounds like ambulance sirens and smoke alarms can leave new pet owners in panic mode, hoping the dogs don’t wake up the entire block.
Then here comes Halloween to add another level of confusion to the mix. For first-time pet owners, these weeks of haunting will leave pet owners with more questions than answers. What food can dogs eat? Which costumes are OK? Where should the Halloween decor go? This FetchaDate video answers some of the most frequently asked questions.
But here are some tips for common household decor that you can help your dog prepare for before the Halloween festivities start.
Brooms: Your dog does not understand the purpose of this thing, whether it’s a rectangular combination of polyester fiber or full of corn husks. Puppies see brooms as a moment of combat. That is, until they learn the fun (and annoying) art of constantly kicking or nudging balls underneath the couch, leaving their owners crawling underneath to collect these balls — over and over again. Here’s where the broom becomes a perk. Start using the broom handle instead of your own body to push the toys out. Eventually your dog will stop growling and barking while you sweep, and connect the broom to a toy retriever. Now you can enjoy your Halloween witch decor in peace.
Candles: Both of my grandmothers were heavy churchgoers. I am not. But there was one thing I was fascinated by — my maternal grandmother constantly lighting candles. I collect candles, too, and light one just about every single day. When the wicks burn out on one, I’ve got essential oils, plug-ins and another candle ready to go. I worried about this multi-decade old habit with a new puppy, although I really didn’t have to. By making sure to have a secure candle holder on a bookshelf too tall for her to get to and a plug-in on a shelf that her snoot cannot reach, she became used to the candles almost immediately. Although the site of a candle lighter initially caught her attention, and startled her a bit, she stopped paying attention within a couple of weeks. She’s taller now and can get closer to the plug-ins, but I have photo frames in front of it. And the risk of hearing one of my photo frames fall down (again) makes her dodge that shelf and outlet completely. That means you too can enjoy your Halloween candles — as long as they’re out of reach.
Shoes: I have no idea how I lucked out to have a dog who never chews shoes, but she’s just not into any of mine—sandals, gym shoes or boots. She’s taken off with a shoe to just sit it in her crate, but I’ve always known where to look. My aloe vera footies were a different story. She chewed holes in a couple of socks, but a short crate visit made her stop immediately. Does she occasionally take them off of a shelf where I keep my shoes for a quick run outside? Yes. But one glance from me, and she darts away and leaves my socks or footies behind. The chew (or sock) chewing is going to take some major practice because I distinctly recall locking myself out of a bedroom closet while dog boarding another dog who does chew shoes and plugs. With time and patience, it can happen. If you start early enough, that means you can enjoy your Halloween shoe decor. Or, leave them on an outside door mat.
Black cats: I walked into the Toastmasters president’s home to get a tour and see the deck he built this past winter. As I was strolling around oohing and aahing, with my dog on a leash, I paused when I saw his cat sitting on the couch. I’m not a cat person (minus these three). I admitted I had no idea how my puppy would react to his pet. She is just fine with dogs that are 50 pounds or over, who could give her a run for her money in a fight. But she’s had a habit of being irritated by any dog smaller than her. To my absolute delight, the cat jumped off the couch, they sniffed each other and all she wanted to do was play with this feline. My puppy was so fascinated by the cat that eventually the cat put up a paw in an “enough” gesture. If you want your dog to get used to cats, take them around your cat-loving friends. Then your Halloween cat decor may last.
Yard signs: The first time I put down a “Keep Off Grass” sign in my condominium’s front yard and a few garden border fence pieces, my dog took that as practice for the circus. She stepped back a few feet and took off running, leaped into the air and over the “Keep Off Grass” sign. Clearly that wasn’t my goal. I was so busy trying to keep humans off the grass and forgot that this would look like big fun to pets. Like candles, this will take time. Eventually your pet will get used to welcome mats and yard signs. She may notice a new one here and there, specifically if it lights up. Just keep her on a short leash a few times until she understands that yard signs and fence posts are not a toy, even if Halloween yard signs certainly look inviting.
While there is other Halloween decor like sugar candy, chocolates, plugs, costumes, fake cobwebs and plenty of others that’ll make you have to re-evaluate what you can and cannot put out for the festivities, these five should be ones you don’t have to worry about.
Shamontiel is a dog lover to her core: 500 completed walks with 84 dogs, eight dog-housesittings and six dog boardings at the time of this publication.
Did you enjoy this post? You’re also welcome to check out my Substack columns “Black Girl In a Doggone World,” “Homegrown Tales,” “I Do See Color,” “Tickled,” “We Need to Talk” and “Window Shopping” too. Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter to keep up with all posts at once.
If you’re not ready to subscribe but want to support my writing, you’re welcome to tip me for this post! I’ll buy a dark hot chocolate on you. Thanks for reading!