The experts at LA’s premiere dog training center, J9s K9s, have some tricks to keep your dog safe this Halloween. LA dog owners need to be proactive in getting their canine ready for hordes of costume clad trick-or-treaters trekking their way around Southern California neighborhoods. In fact, Halloween presents a number of wonderful training opportunities. If you plan to stay home and pass out candy on Halloween, consider this fun and easy J9’s K9s training exercise:
Train My Dog for Treats!
• As darkness falls, set up a pressure mounted baby gate in your front doorway. (You’ll need to prop your screen door all the way open, if you have one.) You can find baby gates for approximately $25 in the baby section of discount stores, and we’ve recently seen them in the hardware section of Lowes for even less. A 32” gate is recommended. You’ll be leaving your front door open with the gate in place throughout the evening. Grab a chair for yourself and a spot for the dog. This will be your “post” for the night. If you’re concerned that your dog might try to jump over or plow through the baby gate, attach his leash to use as an emergency handle. Do not leave your dog unattended near the gate while the front door is open.
• Place a bowl of tasty dog treats on your porch, on the opposite side of the gate from you and your dog. Soft treats, such as Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Dog Food Roll, work best. If you have a lot of trick-or-treaters your dog will be eating a lot of treats, so be sure to use something you can cut into small pieces. Do not feed your dog dinner on Halloween; he’ll be working for his meal and you won’t want to overfeed him. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or cannot tolerate a lot of treats, consider using his regular kibble. If your dog is not motivated by food but really likes to play with toys, keep a basket of his toys on your porch to use instead. Keep your Halloween candy inside with you, and make sure it’s out of your dog’s reach.
• As the trick-or-treaters approach and ask for candy, ask that each child first pick up a dog treat or toy. Instruct them to hold it high above your dog’s head and ask him to “sit”. Be prepared to help out as needed – this will be exciting for everyone! Once your dog sits, ask the child to either toss the goodie to your dog, or hand it to him (if your dog likes children and can take treats calmly). If your dog has trouble taking treats gently, if the child is very young, or if any of the humans seem nervous, the children can hand you the treat or toy to give to your dog when he sits. Dole out a piece of candy and repeat with the next visiting ghost or goblin. The rewards of this program are many; it’s wonderful socialization for your dog to interact with ghouls and superheroes in a positive manner. The costume clad “little people” aren’t so scary when they’re bringing your dog his dinner! Not only that, your dog is getting a LOT of practice with “sit” around many exciting distractions. Additionally, by keeping the front door open and watching for trick-or-treaters, you’re preventing the seemingly endless ringing of your doorbell – and the associated barking of your dog that frequently accompanies it.
Keep in mind that not every dog makes an appropriate candidate for this training exercise.
If your dog is very fearful or has a known aggression problem, it’s best to keep him confined in a crate or another room of your home. Make sure to give him something wonderful to do, like work to extract his dinner out of a KONG® toy.