Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Click or Treat!

Ahhh...Halloween. For a dog owner like me, it's the second worst holiday when it comes to the stress my dogs go through, the Fourth of July topping the list as the ultimate! We try to keep the dogs busy as much as we can and train them to focus on us and not the squealing kids outside, but the outside festivities could literally go on all night!

We have a ritual that may seem a bit bah-humbug: we go in to Halloween lockdown mode. Shut off the porch light, lock the front gate and arm ourselves with treats. Answering the door every 15 minutes would be complete chaos. Okay, so it's not like the apocalypse or anything...but we just want to relax and enjoy the night as if it were any other.

The dilemma we were faced with was that this was a primo socialization opportunity for Kuna. Halloween is a time he gets to see scary masks and screaming kids. Now it's time for this dog trainer to be honest: I opted out on seizing that opportunity. :(

I know, call me what you will but I just wasn't feeling it. So what do I tell people who just DO NOT feel like training at that moment? At the very least, manage the environment that affects the dog's behavior.

Like I said, we locked down the house so no trick-or-treaters came to the porch. We also played the television louder to mask the outside noise and made sure the dogs were good and tired PRIOR to sunset so they would be nice and sleepy when it came time to shutdown for the night.

I was rather pleased - there were no outbursts from our special girl B and Kuna could not have cared less. Sarah's a pretty laid-back girl who was the chosen one getting to snuggle with me on the couch. :)

I spoke to a woman I know who has a somewhat-reactive Boxer - she tried to take him out trick-or-treating with the kids armed with the clicker and treats, but when they actually found themselves in the middle of all the chaos, he couldn't handle it. That's when she made a smart, smart, smart decision: this is too much for him...take him home where he isn't stressed. I wanted to hug her for understanding her dog's limits and for being the protector of her family: she didn't push him. Good job, D! ;)

Hope everyone had a safe Halloween! If anyone has any cute pics of your dog's costume, I'd LOVE to see them!

1 comment:

  1. I agree. We are lucky enough not to get any trick or treaters around here, but the theory is the same. If I'm too stressed and can't handle something, then I don't try to also handle my dogs in something that is too stressful for them. Trick or treating is an extreme time (I think) to try and socialize, mobs of kids everywhere, all dressed up, it's too much for me! I think you were smart to go on lockdown. Not every situation is the opportune situation. Understanding our limits and our dogs helps both of us in making positive impacts in each others lives.

    Love your honesty.