How to survive Halloween with a dog

By CJ and My Favorite Pup Jasmine on Apr. 18, 2016

There are two kinds of pet owners: Those who love Halloween, and those who don’t. This blog will address both  (because I am now divided half and half.) 

A little background: I have a well-trained little dog named Jasmine. She’s a YouTube trick dog, a therapy dog, and she loves people. I have lots of fun costumes for her. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! 

Jasmine loves it when the doorbell rings, because she thinks everyone that comes to the door is here to see her!  When trick-or-treaters come to my door, they absolutely adore seeing Jasmine dressed up, too! Little kids who are normally intimidated by dogs don’t seem to mind Jasmine when she’s dressed up in silly costume.  

Halloween Ewok Toddy Yoda Dog

So for pet owners who have these type of dogs, Halloween can be a lot of fun.   

Then… there’s the other type of dog owner (which now applies to me as well).

Last year, I got a large dog named Chewy. (He came with that name, and unfortunately has lived up to it!)  He’s five years old and has never had any training before now. It’s been very challenging, but he’s come a long way.   He’s finally learning some manners, and is adjusting to being an indoor dog. However, he still goes crazy when the doorbell rings. So Halloween night really gets him worked up.

And now they both live in the same house, so this is going to be an interesting Halloween! I’ve been practicing with Chewy, though. 

Angel and Devil costumes

 I’m getting him used to the doorbell by using counter-conditioning. To prepare him for Halloween night, we’ve been practicing not barking. At first, I would ring the doorbell and Chewy would run around barking like crazy. (Even though he could see I was standing in the open doorway.) I would tell him “Sit, Chewy. No bark”. Once he did, I would give him a treat and lots of praise/ affection. Then, I rang the doorbell again. He went crazy again. But, eventually, he calmed down, sat, and I rewarded him for that behavior. We did this over and over for probably 10 minutes. Then the next day, I did it again. I just kept doing this until he figured out that it’s me making the doorbell noise.   

Then one time, I went out the garage and came up to the front door. When I rang the door bell, the crazy barking dog routine started all over again. I opened the door and said “Sit Chewy. No Bark”. It took a long time, but eventually he calmed down and sat quietly. Then I gave him a large amount of treats, praise and affection. We did this routine for a while. For 10 minutes, I just made a circular path from the garage to the front door. 

I’ve discovered the secret to dog training is to figure out what motivates your dog. For Jasmine, she will do anything for anything for a treat. Some dogs are motivated by play (such as throwing a special tennis ball, or tugging on a rope). Some dogs like praise and affection for a reward. I’m honestly still trying to figure out Chewy.  (Which is why I use all of the above).

In theory, I would keep practicing this routine. Then, every once in a while, I would have one of my friends come to the door with a treat in hand.  And once Chewy sat quietly, they would reward him. But, life gets busy, and I haven’t finished this part of the training yet. But I have the rest of this month to keep working with him. 

This is my recommendation for other pet owners who have dogs who get overly excited by the doorbell: You could also leave the TV on to provide some background noise.

So this is going to be an interesting year for us. Chewy is a good dog. He just needs some guidance, and soon he’ll realize how fun Halloween can be. 

Halloween taco

Happy Howl-oween from my pups to yours!

Find the perfect dog Halloween costume now.


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