WEIRD COSTUME/OUTFIT SOCISLISATION/DESENSITISATION
Halloween is SUPPOSED to be a spooky scary fun night,but for dogs it can be a spooky scary BAD night. Those fun and silly wigs,masks,hats and other costumes you have fun wearing can be super scary to your dog. Suddenly all the usual people shapes around them and the faces they recognise have become weird lumpy bumpy ,pointy pokey shapes. Wings and claws,brooms and horns ,fake heads and fake tails. Socialisation,proofing and desensitisation ahead of time will help Make sure Your pup is in on the fun along with you.
To help your pup out,show them your costumes in advance,let them sniff it,put it on in front of them and let them check it out. Feed them treats for being brave,feed them treats while in your costume. For dogs who will be hosting lots of trick or treaters ,maybe leave fido in the other room when kids come to the door.
For dogs who will be accompanying their trick or treating pals be sure your dog is ok with a neighbourhood full of goblins and ghouls and princesses and clowns. If they are not,maybe it might be best to give Rex a pass and set him up at home that night.
It’s ALWAYS a good idea to prepare a puppy or new dog for the eventuality of a person in a big floppy hat,or a ski mask or sunglasses or walking with a cane or a walker. Get your friends together with some tickle trunk items and play dress up around your pup,play games of fetch or tug in the house or back yard while wearing these outfits. Always let your pup explore you and reward them for checking it out. You can encourage exploration by cueing them to “check i out” or ask them “what’s this?” and tap the object for them to sniff. Always reward a brave dog so they associate exploring weird things with good results! Weird object = Yum Treat!
Discourage children from trying to illicit spooky dog reactions while wearing funny costumes ,even if it seems fun and funny to see fido jump back or bark. This innocent behaviour could spell trouble down the road if the dog gets spooked by a stranger,feels threatened and decides to bite instead of just bark and hide.
A final proofing of your dogs socialisation to funny hats and weird silhouettes etc. would be to visit a park or quiet safe street and have the same outfits be worn and those people make appearances randomly on the dogs walk along that street or park. Appear randomly still will not include jumping up suddenly out of a bush! Just showing up wearing the outfit away from the first area the dog was originally exposed to it will be enough. Hopefully the dog will see the people wearing the familiar outfits and wag its tail ,knowing they might mean he gets more treats just like he did at home! Then the handler walking Fido can feed the pup rewards for being cool about the funny looking human he saw on his walk.