Steamboat Springs Well, it’s upon us. Halloween might be a most confusing night for dogs. I can only imagine what is going through my dog Stuart’s mind.
Dog's Eye View
This weekly column about dog training publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.
I suddenly have changed my appearance. I have become unrecognizable to him. My voice is familiar, but where did I go? In a costume, I even walk differently.
Stuart likes to see my eyes and the expression on my face. It’s part of how he knows what I’m communicating to him. If I’m wearing a mask or have painted my face, he doesn’t understand me. How spooky is a masked face where only moving eyes can be seen?
I have worked hard with Stuart to be calm when people come to our front door, and he has done a wonderful job. Now when I open the door, there are monsters, princesses and skeletons out there. Maybe he’s wondering if he should growl at them. Maybe he’s wondering why I don’t seem to recognize how much danger I’m in.
I keep telling him to back away from the door while I proceed to give these creatures food treats. To him, it might appear as though I am bribing them to go away. He can see that it usually works, but sometimes I actually invite them into our house. Now what is he supposed to do?
There are delicious smells of chocolate coming from little bags sitting on a table. If Stuart manages to get a hold of one and polish it off when I’m busy bribing the monsters, we could be headed to our veterinarian’s office on this special night.
I once wrote about what it might be like to be adopted by Martians. Now I’m wondering if Stuart might think we have been invaded by Martians.
So on this special night, you might want to take extra precautions to avoid putting your dog in a stressful situation. Be aware of whether your dog appears nervous or frightened. Tuck him away in a quiet room with a special bone to chew on for the evening. Additionally, you might want to turn on a radio or TV in the room to defuse the sound of the doorbell and the howl of scary things outside.
It’s OK, Stuart. It’s just one night of the year.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 25 years of experience.