Halloween can be a spooky time for dogs. Dark evenings make things harder to see. Costumes and noisy kids running around the neighbourhood. The cacophony and percussion of fireworks. All these can make some dogs’ walks a thoroughly unpleasant, even frightening experience.

Although walks are a regular part of most dogs’ routines, thinking about their value and appropriateness at Halloween is well-advised. Some dogs would do better minimizing most outdoor activity for a week or two around Halloween, while others may only need their routine adjusted on the actual day.

Some readers may think I am off my rocker, suggesting to adjust or reduce walks. I understand – they are such a ubiquitous part of daily dog life that tampering with them may seem very odd. But hear me out. This is only a temporary adjustment to help keep your dog safe and comfortable. If you have a dog that becomes stressed outdoors during the Halloween festivities, the drama and anxiety caused while on walks may outweigh the potential benefits.

Suggestions on how to adjust walks over Halloween:

Skip or shorten after-dark walks
if your dog is already uneasy in the dark, then the added stress of noise and kids in costume may put them over the top. Stick to potty breaks at these times and move your walks to daylight hours.

Choose areas that are away from the noise and activity for outings
Going to quiet places where fireworks are not allowed, or the other distractions of Halloween are not present, will help create a more relaxing and enjoyable outing.

Stay close to home
Venturing away from the safety of home may be an additional source of stress over Halloween. On the other hand, the security of staying close to home will help some dogs feel more relaxed.

Other Options Instead of Walking Your Dog at Halloween

You may think curtailing walks, even for a few days, may not work for your dog. What about all the energy they won’t be burning off? What can you do in place of your regular walks? Mental exercise can be just as tiring as physical exercise, so it’s time to up your mental stimulation game! There are so many ways to do this; the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few simple ways to get you started*:

  • give your dog a dash of fun at dinner and spice up mealtimes with a food puzzle. There are a mind-boggling number available on the market, or you can make your own using something as simple as a towel or egg carton.
  • teach a new trick, or play a fun training game. Learning a new skill using positive reinforcement is both fun and useful.
  • provide a scenting game – there’s a reason scenting activities have become hugely popular over the last couple of decades! And you don’t have to take a class to give your dog a chance to put that excellent nose to work. It’s as easy as hiding treats around the house!
  • give your dog something to shred. Dogs love to rip stuff up! Depending on your dog, you can give them a head of lettuce, cabbage, or a cardboard box.
  • make an adventure box. These are great fun for dogs and satisfy their interest in scavenging and exploring.
  • provide a frozen Kong. These are easy to pre-prepare and have ready for when needed. You can fill them with a variety of delicious and healthy food items.

* These activities should be supervised.

I hope this will make you think about walks and give you a few simple ideas that you can easily implement to keep your dog stimulated and happy over Halloween. And another benefit of this? You will probably find that your dog loves the fun new activities and will want to keep them part of their daily life.

For more information on Mental Stimulation, check out this blog.

Stay tuned for more tips and ideas in our Halloween safety series. You can join our free group Positive Dog Life for more on this.