Chinwagging with Joanne Doonan – Keeping Your Dog Safe & Happy this Howloween

Halloweeen normally would be a time of trick and treating and celebrations. This year is going to be a bit different with everthing that is going on in the world. It doesn’t mean you still can’t have a spot of fun on your own at home. It can however be a stressful time for pets and animals. They aren’t used to commotions and loud noises. We spoke to professional dog trainer (and we would say whisperer!), Joanne Doonan about some of her top tips for keeping your furry family members happy and secure this Halloween. The noise and flashes from fireworks can cause considerable trauma to not only our dogs but other domestic pets and farm animals too. As we head into firework season here are some tips to help your pets cope.


Provide a ‘den’ or free access to your pets safe place.

This can be a corner of a room surrounded by their favourite things, or even an empty bathtube. Obviously, if your dog doesn’t like the bath then this probably won’t be the best idea 😉


Use heavy blankets or a duvet to muffle the noises and block out the flshing lights.

Wrapping them in their own blankets or even the ones of your bed will help give them a sense of security and hide them from the flashes. They won’t be wrapped up long, just make sure they can breathe.


Check social media to ensure you’re aware of any big displays in your area.

As they say, forewarned is forearmed. Even though this will be a very odd Halloween you might still find some information on organised events. If you have neighbours, ask them in advance if they plan on having any celebrations and let them know you have a dog.


Change your routine

Move your pets routine forward slightly including meals and walks ideally while still daylight. That way your pup can feel all safe at home before any fireworks start. Settle down for the evening earlier – close curtains and turn up the TV and relax. If you relax your pet is more likely to relax too. To be honest, I would be tempted to snuggle up too and have an early night!


Comfort your pet if needs be – you cannot reinforce fear!

You can never let your pet know enought that they are great. Quietly let them know what a good boy or girl they are and make them feel secure.


Provide fabulous tasty chews or a stuffed kong

Remember when celebrating yourself, to keep any food that might make your pet sick away from them. HAve some really tasty pet treats standing by to give them. It will keep them happy, distract them and chewing releases relaxing endorphins to the brain.


Be careful when opening your door or allowing your dog outside

You may think your pet isn’t a runner, but when they are spooked any pet has the potential to be unpredictable. Be careful when opening your door and letting them out to the toilet. If you do let them out to the toilet, you may want to keep them on a lead. A scared dog can run very quickly or jump a fence they’ve never jumped before.


Consider a DAP, a plug in Dog Appeasing Pheromone

Dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) is a synthetic congener of natural dog-appeasing pheromone. It has been reported to reduce anxiety and stress in dogs. You can purchase it from most good pet stores.


Seek advice from your vet

In addition to DAP, there are many medications and calming supplements available that can help.


Other stuff you can do

Long term put the time and effort into desensitising your pet to loud noises. This is not a quick fix and can take weeks, months or even longer. Put simply, dogs learn by association and for most food is the way forward.

Playing firework sounds at a VERY low level can help – you’ll be able to find these on YouTube by searching for “Fireworks ASMR”, As you hear the sounds deliver tasty treats in quick succession to your dog. When the sounds stop so do the treats. Gradually over time increase the volume of the fireworks sound. Over time your dog will learn loud noises predict good stuff. Don’t be tempted to rush this process and if unsure seek advice from a reputable reward based trainer.

We might not be able to celebrate outdoors or with friends this Halloween, but we can still celebrate at home with out household. If you are having a “party on your own” with your household, remember pets don’t like a lot of noise of fuss. So try to give them their own quiet space too, away from the action. If you are playing loud music and having a few jars, perhaps let them go off to another room in your house where they can get a bit of quiet. Don’t forget to leave their bowl of water with them too and some dog friendly Howloween treats.


Join us this Halloween for our Special Hallowoof Pub Quiz on Zoom!

If you are looking a bit of something to do this Halloween, why not join our “Hallowoof Pub Quiz” on Zoom. It’s free to join, it’s good craic and you’ll get extra points if you (and your pet!) are in fancy dress!

What: Special Hallowoof “Pub Quiz” on Zoom
When? Halloween Night Saturday 31st October 2020
Time? 7:30pm
Who’s Welcome? EVERYONE! – Fancy Dress Optional… but Fun!

Click here to join the quiz


To find out more about Joanne and to see how she can help train your pet pop along to Joanne’s website here:


About Graham

Graham Crichton is an award winning professional portrait photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With 15 years of experience and having photographed thousands of people and their pets.

About Hannah

Hannah Crichton is married to Graham (yay) and is the Business Manager at the studio. Hannah's expertise is in accounting and making everything run ticketyboo.

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Graham Crichton Photography Limited,
276-278 Castlereagh Road
Belfast BT5 6AD,
Northern Ireland.

 Phone: 02890 99 77 98

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