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Train Your Dog For Halloween

The spooky season of Halloween can also be scary for dogs. From giant plastic-smelling-like creatures popping up in the middle of Xavier’s favorite daily walk path, to screaming and running doorbell-ringing children, this could easily turn into a bloody mess.

This is why it is very important for you to train your dog prior and during Halloween so that you can enjoy this holiday with your pup for years on years.

Know your dog’s competence level

It is very important for you to know the competence level of your dog. Only you know what they are comfortable with and capable of. If your dog isn’t socialized then we strongly recommend keeping Xyla at home.

Teach them to be non-reactive to the door bell ringing

When someone knocks on the door, it is a dog’s first instinct to bark at whoever is at the door. Now add screaming children in costumes to the equation and this can be a very triggering situation for Xango.

If your dog is easily triggered by the doorbell provide him with a safe space where he can hang out until the trick-or-treaters are finished with their rounds. To distract Xango from the noise play some music or TV to blend in the noise and also provide him something to chew on, in case he gets stressed out.

If you want to train with Xango to not react to the doorbell you can achieve this with a three step process.

1. Teaching Place:

Start by providing him with a ‘place’, this can be his crate or his dog bed, the important thing is that he knows this is his place to rest. Feed Xango on that place so that he starts associating that place with something positive. Then throw a treat to the place and have them go there. Add a hand signal to go to the place, we usually point to it. Once Xango has that down, you can add the verbal command ‘place’.

2. Teaching Stay:

Now teach him to stay. Every time Xango goes to his place, whenever he want's to leave his place, walk into him and give him the hand command to stay, the stop hand command is what we use. Then reward him for staying. This will start with short time periods and little by little you can increase the duration. Walk some steps away from Xango while facing him and give the hand command to stay, and then reward him for staying. Once he has that down, you can introduce the verbal command. With practice and time you can increase distance and then add in distractions and or practice in more difficult places.

3. Go To Your Place When the Door Bell Rings:

Once Xango knows to go to his place on command and knows how to stay, you can build on that to train him to stay on his place when someone rings the door bell. Have Xango go to his place and ask someone to ring the doorbell. Once it rings Xango will want to run towards the door. Command him to stay and reward him for his behavior and being calm. This is very useful not only for Halloween but every time you get visits.

Meet and greet

If Xavier is more advanced in his training you can move him outside to add to his socialization training and for him to partake in the festivities. Make sure you use a strong leash to secure Xavier to something. This is an excellent opportunity to hand feed Xavier instead of providing him his dinner in a bowl. Every time children come to the door ask the children and parents if they are comfortable with dogs, if so, ask them if they want to give Xavier a treat. If Xavier is a bit fearful of this, keep him at bay and simply reward him with food or toys for calm behavior.

Get them used to their costume ahead of time

If Xena is partaking in Hallow-queen and is going trick or treating with you then there are several things to keep in mind.

1) Make sure you have a non-retractable leash. If you can get an LED leash even better as people may not see the leash nor your dog. We love LEDs because they add so much visibility to your dog.

2) If you’re going all out and putting a costume on Xena put on the costume ahead of time and give her treats/or play with her while she's wearing it so that she can have a positive connection to wearing the costume.

Leave it/ Drop it

You and Xilla are enjoying a fun filled walk, until she walks straight to a chocolate candy bar some kids dropped on the sidewalk. This is when the command ‘leave it/drop it’ is pivotal. Otherwise she could swallow it before you can do anything about it, and as we all know chocolate is toxic to dogs. In order to train this you can do it during a game of tug. Use a toy and play with Xilla, then go still. After some time she will get bored and drop the toy. At that moment praise her then reward her with another round of tug. Another way to train this is to place your hand over their snout in a downward U shape and lightly pinch on both sides. Once she understands what you are wanting her to do, then you can start incorporating the verbal command.

Any occasion can be a great opportunity for you to train and bond with your dog, so make the best out of it and have a fang-tastic howl-oween!


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