How to Help Your Dog Enjoy Halloween

While you or your children may be in count-down mode for Halloween, your dog is likely not looking forward to the day. There are several parts of Halloween that are unappealing to pets, but with a few actions on your part, you can help this holiday be less stressful and more enjoyable for the dogs in your life.

  1. Costumes aren’t for everybody. While the idea of photographing your pug dressed as Batman or your Dachshund as a hot dog may sound adorable, your dog may be stressed and upset by the idea of wearing a costume. Do not force dogs to remain in items if they show signs of distress: running away, hiding, trying to scratch off the costume, constant head tossing, and/or whining. Respect your dog and his attempts to communicate: if he is not happy, remove the costume. On the other hand, if your dog seems undisturbed with the outfit and attention, then enjoy the night and the smiles you’ll certainly get.
  2. Your dog doesn’t know these strangers are safe. From your dog’s point of view, one of her key jobs in life is to protect her home and her family. Thus, many dogs bark when people come to the door, and many dog owners appreciate this added level of security. However, on Halloween, lots of strangers come to the door and ring the bell or knock – so your dog will be working overtime to alert you of their presence. Meanwhile, you’re likely shushing the dog or telling him to stop, which can be very confusing for a well-trained guardian. Remember that your dog is just trying to protect you – so be gentle instead of scolding. Put aggravated or stressed-out dogs in their crates or locked in a cozy bedroom with comforting items. And never let an upset dog close to a little costumed visitor.
  3. Candy is not for dogs. There are so many dangerous aspects of candy that mean you must secure it far away from any pets. Chocolate can be toxic (learn how toxic chocolate is for your dog here) and Xylitol, found in many hard candies and gums, can make dogs very, very sick (learn more about Xylitol here). Additionally, dogs may ingest candy bags and wrappers, leading to intestinal distress and possibly surgery. Candy must be kept far out of reach of pets, and children need to be told to seal and store candy.
  4. Halloween nights can be dangerous. Halloween isn’t only about treats – there are plenty of tricks involved. With more people outside, at big parties and behaving out of character, it can be a dangerous night to have pets on the loose. With your front door opening more often for visitors, dogs can find more ways to escape. Ensure your dog is locked in a crate or in a room, or is secure behind a fence at all times. You don’t want her to go missing on Halloween night.

All that said, there’s still plenty of ways to have fun with your dog. We would love to see photos of your costumes (with or without costumed pets) – please post them on our Facebook page or Google Plus page. And calm, social dogs would likely love to walk around with you while you trick-or-treat. Enjoy the night together, if you can, or arrange it so your dog can enjoy it as best she can.

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Pet Behavior | Prevention Health

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