Halloween is intended to scare and startle us but this can make it a spooky time for dogs, too. By being more sensitive to a dog's fear-driven "fight or flight" instincts, we can help keep our furry friends safe this Halloween.
Halloween brings a fun time for most of us, but for some of our much-loved pets Halloween can be a true nightmare. Dog owners may not be able to control external surroundings, but they can care for their dog's safety and well being by observing the following tips:
Bring your dog indoors. Even if you have a fenced garden, bring your dog inside where he cannot be harmed or overwhelmed by little ghouls and goblins. If he is an outside-dog, bring him in a few times before the big night to get him comfortable with being indoors. Remember, some dogs may try to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there will be plenty of strangers knocking at your door.
Keep your dog secured. If your dog is timid or scared, or if he tends to love people a little too much, put him in a separate room away from the front door. This will limit his excitement, aggression or chance of running outside and getting lost or injured.
Reassure your dog but don't over do it. If your dog seems to feel unsettled by Halloween activities, just act as normally as possible. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him extra attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that there must be something to worry about.
Have your dog get used to costumes. Your dog may regard his family members as strangers once they don their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to scent the costumes. Keep masks off at all times while your dog is around.
Check your dog's ID Tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog's collar; just in case.
Keep chocolate and sweets away from your dog. Many sweets, especially those containing chocolate or xylitol, an artificial sweetener, are toxic to dogs. Problems can range from a mild upset tummy to vomiting and diarrhoea, or even death in extreme cases. For your dog's safety, be sure to keep all sweets and their wrappers well away from him.
Protect your dog from candles and pumpkins. Agitated or excited dogs (and their swinging tails) can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Keep such items out of your dog's reach, or consider using a battery-powered candle that does not burn.
Think twice about dressing your dog in a costume. While some dogs may enjoy being dressed up, many don't. Experiment first to see if your dog likes being in a costume. If he shows any resistance, don't do it.
Consider carefully and be prepared. Think carefully about taking your dog with you on trick-or-treating rounds. You may unintentionally instil a new fear of strangers in him, creating a wariness that could last for a long time. If you do take your dog, keep a firm grip on his lead. Dogs do not understand that the person jumping out at you will not hurt you; they often think they can only help you by acting aggressively.
Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner's consent.