In just a few days ghosts, goblins, and ghouls will be taking over our streets. Halloween brings a fun time for most of us; lots of great costumes with little monsters and scary pirates at every turn. But for some of our much-loved four-legged family members, Halloween can be a nightmare—from oddly dressed squealing kids and strangers ringing doorbells to unusual commotion in the neighborhood. Dog owners can do little to control external surroundings on All Hallows’ Eve, but can care for their dog’s safety by observing the following tips.
Keep dogs safe during Halloween—the most dangerous holiday for dogs— these guidelines for dog owners help ensure the safety of pets during fright night.
Don’t leave your dog outside. Even if you have a fenced yard, bring your dog inside where it is safe. If your dog cannot come inside, ensure your dog has a safe place to go, like a doghouse.
Keep your dog restrained. It is best to put him in a separate room away from the front door to limit his excitability, aggression, and chance of running outside and becoming lost. Also, consider having a crate or safe zone (such as a pillow or a bed) that you can direct him to when people come to the door.
Reassure your dog. Your dog looks to you for leadership. The best thing you can do for your dog is to act as you normally would around your dog. If you keep your dog inside away from family, visit often to reduce his stress.
Have your dog get used to costumes and decorations. Your dog may see his family members as strangers once they don their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to scent the costumes. If your costume has a mask, keep the mask off when you are with your dog because dogs can become confused when they can’t see our faces.
Check your dog’s ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog’s collar—just in case.
Keep candy away from your dog. Many candies—especially chocolate—are toxic to dogs. The severity of the toxicity depends greatly on factors such as breed, age, size, and how much candy was ingested. Make certain that sweets, including their wrappers, are kept well away from your dog.
Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Excited or agitated dogs can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Be sure those items are away from your dog’s reach.
Think twice about dressing your dog in a costume. While some dogs might enjoy being dressed up and the extra attention it brings, many don’t. Experiment first to see if your dog likes being in a costume. If he shows any resistance, don’t do it. Dogs feel enough stress around Halloween without also having to endure the discomfort and peculiarity of wearing a strange costume.
Be prepared. If you take your dog with you while trick-or-treating, be prepared at all times. Do not let your dog approach the door of a house, and stay clear of possible gags or gangs of goblins who will gather at the door. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner’s consent. Even the best-behaved dog can be startled by a ghost popping out and “attacking.”
Have fun but think of your dog’s safety. If you want your dog to be included in Halloween festivities, think about his safety much as you would the safety of a small child. Your dog does not understand Halloween, so he needs you to provide the guidance and safety that you always do.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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