Can your dog learn from Halloween?

We all know how most kiddos feel about Halloween and the same would go for a large number of adults. All that mystery, sugar and walks to haunted destinations under crisp conditions can send chills down someone’s spine.

But what about our dogs?

Do they care about Halloween? I guess we will never know unless…
we  pay attention to some possible cues.  What is your dog’s demeanor as he is being outfitted with the Halloween costume? If this is something you do? Is your dog relaxed and welcoming of the outfit? Does he stand stiff and cumbersome as if afraid to move once wearing it?  Or he runs happily and relaxed because you have done a terrific job in teaching him that wearing these funny clothes means big dividends in the form of interaction with children and their attention?

The answer to the question of dogs learning from Halloween has to be that they can.  Dogs are always learning new stuff, always adapting and evaluating their environment. Now the goal here would be to take this opportunity to teach them lots of cool stuff.

For example, if your dog is neutral towards kids or enjoys kids, have him be part of the candy-giving experience.  What’s more, have your pup practice with the kids some simple behavior and as a result have the kids treat your pup.  A win-win for everyone.

This is also a great opportunity to practice whatever routine you have designed (and I sure hope you have one!) for visitor’s at the home.

Lots and lots of practice are needed for having your dog not pull on leash to greet the new person at your door. For him to lie quietly on his bed before being released to say hello to the new visitor and on and on. Most of us do not have constant visitors which we need in order to make these types of behaviors stick. So why not take advantage of this great opportunity.

Here is another idea:   As you stroll with your hungry pup around a town now embellished by oh such scary decorations, observe your pup as he moves away or freely chooses to interact with the fake grave on someone’s front yard, the gauze hanging from tree branches and the like.

If your pup is hesitant to approach (and who wouldn’t), gently encourage him to go investigate – on his own terms, and as he approaches reward your hungry pup with his breakfast or dinner kibble.   If your pup rushes to investigate reward him for his initiative and bravery.

The bottom line is that we must take circumstances like this to make our dogs comfortable and relaxed with novelty. The dividends are worth the trouble and for sure will add to the holiday fun.