Desensitization tips for your pup during the holidays.

a year ago   •   3 min read

By Kim Bissing

Halloween is the beginning of the holiday seasons and will only escalate through the new year. During the Halloween times our puppies and dogs are not used to constant strangers ringing the doorbell or knocking, along with the scary costumes and decorations.

One situation is getting used to the doorbell / knocking. Super simple easy solution is desensitizing your dog to the situation prior to the event. This solution can be used with anything that can be overly stimulating for your pup.

Steps are opening your door and closing it rapidly and repetitively and rewarding once done. For example opening/closing 3x and returning to your dog and rewarding. Once you feel your dog is bored with this practice, that means you have successfully completed getting your dog desensitized to the door stimulation. It has now become boring.

Moving forward would be to ring and knock on the door with the door open and rewarding your dog when calm behavior is offered. Marking your dog with good behavior. You want to practice these things and situations prior to any additional stressors or stimulation. So practicing prior to Halloween is necessary.

Another scary situation is for pups to react to costumes and decorations. One tactic I have used regularly to desensitize a pup to surprises and being afraid of objects that are abnormal, all you will need is a simple sheet. One large enough to cover your body. And just like that trend in 2018 where you hide from your dog behind a sheet and disappear is the same game. Except without disappearing. You want to give dramatic dimensions to the sheet and then reward the pup immediately after raising or draping over body (like a ghost).

Making it fun and letting your pup realize thereโ€™s nothing but fun in the end of it and humans havenโ€™t just lost their minds will help improve the situation by building a relationship with your pup and having what could be a traumatic experience end up being fun!

When you're putting a costume on your pup for our Howl-O-Ween event, like crowns, hats, clothes, always introduce it for a short period at first and then give loads of loves and treats making it a good experience. Your dog wonโ€™t always hate clothes or dressing up.

If Halloween is the only time you dress up your dog it may be a little frightening to them and to question what in the world us humans are doing. To put an end to all this you want to have super high value treats and lure with as much intent as possible. Putting on the outfit, with treats, taking off with treats. I mean what dog would hate putting outfits on for treats?

Having trouble with treats? Use their favorite toy! Even for Halloween day, be prepared for your pup have treats and tricks up your sleeve to make sure to bring a wild adventures night for your pup to never forget!

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