For many of us people (especially kid) Halloween is the best time of the year. You get to dress up in costume and eat candy – what’s not to love?
But Halloween can be stressful for your dog. Your canine family member can get confused, anxious and scared at all the commotion. Not just all the noisy kids coming to the door in strange clothes … but Halloween decorations often make eerie sounds and movements. So October walks can be frightening. Plus, there’s the added danger your dog could get into some of that candy – particularly chocolate, which is toxic to dogs.
So how should you handle the situation? Whether you’re a Halloween lover or not, you’ll need to help your dog your dog stay calm when your doorbell rings dozens of times in one evening.
The first step is to keep your dog as comfortable as possible – away from windows and the front door, in a quiet area, maybe with a nice bone to chew on. If your dog can stay away from the fray, he should feel more relaxed.
In addition to that, here are some other tricks you can try:
#1 Rescue Remedy
Bach’s Rescue Remedy was developed specifically for times of stress for both humans and animals. It’s a blend of five Bach Flower Remedies:
- Star of Bethlehem
- Rock Rose
- Cherry Plum
You can buy it in a pet formula in glycerin instead of alcohol. But for most dogs. the alcohol version is fine too and won’t harm your dog.
You can give your dog Rescue Remedy for stressful times things like vet visits, thunderstorms, and yes, Halloween too.
These remedies are very safe and nontoxic. According to Certified Bach Flower Practitioner Kelly Holland Azzaro, Bach Flower Remedies are the essence of a plant, flower, water or mineral. These essences are created by sunlight infusion and are so gentle they won’t interfere with any other treatments or medications. Flower remedies have no side effects, and you can even put them in the water bowl when you have more than one dog, because they won’t affect an animal who doesn’t need them.
There are several ways to give Rescue Remedy to your dog.
- Add some drops of Rescue Remedy to your dog’s drinking water (use filtered or spring water).
- Place a few drops on a treat or food.
- Rub 1-2 drops on his paws or ears.
- Place drops directly in his mouth … but be careful the dropper doesn’t touch his mouth as you could contaminate the remedy when you put it back in the bottle. You may want to use a separate dropper to dose, so you keep the bottle dropper clean.
During peak doorbell ringing hours on Halloween, you can give Rescue Remedy every 15 minutes until your dog feels calm.
#2 CBD Oil
CBD oil is a natural substance found in the hemp plant. For thousands of years, people have been using the hemp plant for everything from rope to medicinal purposes. One of those medicinal purposes is anxiety relief.
CBD oil comes from the same source as marijuana, but it doesn’t have the THC that males you high. Instead, it works to naturally calm and soothe anxiety and stress in your dog.
To give it to your dog, buy a product sold for pets and follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. You can add it to your dog’s food or place it straight in his mouth.
#3 Pressure Wrap
Pressure wraps come in different brands, like the Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap. A pressure wrap like this should be in your Halloween anxiety bag of tricks.
Pressure wraps work by applying constant pressure to your dog’s body, which has a calming effect. It’s similar to swaddling a baby.
Pressure wraps can help your dog feel more safe and secure. Some fearful dogs will relax so much they fall asleep during thunderstorms or fireworks … so it could really help your dog on Halloween.
#4 Tellington TTouch Method
Founded by Linda Tellington-Jones, the TTouch Method uses a combination of touches, lifts and movements to relieve tension and increase body awareness. These techniques can help an variety of issues, including excitability, extreme fear and aggression.
Considering its tension-relieving abilities, it could definitely come in handy come Halloween. This is the TTouch “Basic Circle” as described by the founder.
“The basic TTouch circle is made by gently moving the dog’s skin in a circle-and-a-quarter. Envision the face of a clock where the movement will begin with six o’clock toward the ground. The TTouch circle moves the skin with a light contact with your fingers from six o’clock around the clock face to nine, then 12, on to three, to six, and finally up again to the nine o’clock position.
“To begin a TTouch session, choose a place on your dog’s body where he enjoys being touched. The shoulders are usually a good place. Use the pads of your fingers with the lightest contact to move the skin in a circle-and-a-quarter.
“After each TTouch circle, pause and slide your fingers lightly to another spot to repeat the next TTouch.”Linda Tellington-Jones, Founder
#5 Essential Oils
Essential oils are a natural but powerful medicine.
It’s important to get high-quality oils, to always dilute the oil or oils in a carrier oil, never give the oil to your dog internally and avoid using it with cats, birds, reptiles and fish.
Diffusion is great for stress. Lavender oil can bring about calm to your environment and work wonders for your dog’s anxiety.
For fearful dogs, you try the following recipe from aromatherapist Kelly Holland Azzaro.
Recipe For General Fear or Anxiety
This mixture contains neroli, petigrain and lavender in a carrier oil that’s safe for topical use. Mix really well.
Start with a carrier base such as:
- 2 oz Jojoba oil
- OR 2 oz aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) gel
- OR lavender hydrosol for a spray mist
Suggested Essential Oils:
- 8-10 drops of neroli
- 6-8 drops of petitgrain
- 4-6 drops of lavender
Spray lightly onto the back of your dog’s neck or rub on his collar.
Note: usually it’s best to avoid putting essential oils directly on your dog’s coat or skin, where he could lick it off and get an internal dose by mistake. But this diluted recipe was developed to be safe for topical use.
#6 Classical Music
Music can be soothing to dogs, especially classical.
Research by AM Lindig et al at University of Sydney, found that “…animals appear less stressed or anxious when exposed to classical music than to control conditions.” But they did point out “it is important to consider and adapt to individuals’ and species’ preferences for different genres and songs .. ” (1).
Several studies show that classical music can be helpful in relieving stress in dogs in kennels or shelters. A University of Colorado study by A Bowman et al experimented with different genres of music. They found any kind of music led dogs to lie down more and stand less. But music didn’t reduce barking … and barking often increased after the music stopped. In general, dogs were calmer when they heard soft rock and reggae, compared to Motown, pop and classical (2).
So you may need to experiment with different music to see what your dog finds relaxing. But don’t always play the same music. The University of Colorado study also found dogs got used to certain types of music and responded better to variety.
Oh! And Don’t Forget the Pumpkin
It’s not Halloween without pumpkin! If you know your dog’s stomach gets affected when he’s stressed, you might want to have some 100 percent organic canned pumpkin (not pie filling) on hand for loose stool or diarrhea. Because of its fiber content, pumpkin can help with constipation too.
You can give your dog 1 to 4 Tbsp of canned pumpkin per meal. Start out gradually and build up to find your dog’s ideal dose so you don’t cause stomach upset.
Halloween Isn’t For Everyone
As much as you might love Halloween, your dog probably doesn’t. Keep that in mind and give him some extra love and care around this stressful time. He’ll appreciate it!
- Lindig AM, McGreevy PD, Crean AJ. Musical Dogs: A Review of the Influence of Auditory Enrichment on Canine Health and Behavior. Animals. 2020; 10(1):127.
- A Bowman et al. The effect of different genres of music on the stress levels of kennelled dogs.