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Surviving Halloween Decorations

It's now the season of decorations in people's yards. While you might enjoy seeing all the decorations, they can be a little scary for your dog.

There are a couple simple things you can do to help your dog live with the scary decorations. When passing decorations on a walk, keep the leash as loose as possible and let your dog decide how much distance he wants between himself and the decoration. If he shows no interest in approaching a decoration, encourage him past it using just your voice or turn around and walk the other way if he's not able to walk past it. Tension in the leash or pulling on the leash can actually create more nervousness in your dog as well as telling him that you think the decoration is meaningful. Our goal is to make the decoration meaningless, so the less you seem to care about the decoration the easier it is for your dog to ignore the decoration.

You can also create scenarios at home where your dog has to interact with objects in new ways, like finding treats hidden within boxes or under large pieces of paper that he's allowed to shred (like old newspaper). This exercise focuses on teaching your dog that new does not equal scary. When he's got the mindset of new equals treats or new equals fun, he's better able to think through the fact that the scary decorations are not jumping out to eat him (or whatever reason he has to feel afraid).

Another thing you can do is teach your dog how to make a u-turn, which helps him learn that he can walk away from scary things instead of having to focus on just what's scary. Ignoring things is actually a skill that dogs end up needing to learn since it doesn't come naturally to them.

These are just a few simple things that you can do to help your dog feel better about all the new things in people's yards.

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