Battersea Q&A: Help your dog feel less spooked at Halloween

Dog at Halloween

(Q) Halloween is definitely not a treat for my dog, Hardy. Last year he started backing away from children, barking, with his hackles up. What should I be doing to make things easier for him?

(A) Battersea canine welfare trainer Nathalie Ingham says: It's easy for us to forget how many things change during this period for our pets and quite how scary it can be. 

There are often more people coming to our front door for trick or treating, and people wear odd clothes and masks which are especially concerning to animals, as they may have never experienced anything like that previously.

Hardy is communicating that he is very worried by the situation: his hackles going up, the barking, and the backing away are his way of attempting to avoid getting any closer to the person who is worrying him.

While walking Hardy, take out some treats and his favourite toy, so that if you spot somebody dressed up you can get Hardy to focus on you and reward him for being relaxed as the person goes past. If you can increase the distance between yourselves and the person, this will help to prevent Hardy's anxiety from increasing. At home, ensure that Hardy doesn't have direct access to the front door so that he doesn't keep encountering scary witches trick or treating.

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