Well the countdown to Halloween has begun and it is undoubtedly one of the most popular holidays for the family to share.
Unfortunately, we also have to mindful that this fun and treat-filled time, also brings potential harm and danger to our furry friends, especially if they are included in trick or treating.
Don’t forget that a dog’s hearing is much better than ours, so the noises are even more magnified and can make them stressed and scared.
Here are four ‘fangtastic’ tips to help keep your dog safe and sound while still having some fun!
#1 Is your dog Trick or Treating with you?
Unless your dog is extremely calm around loud noises, including fireworks, then the safest bet is probably to leave them at home.
However, if you feel they can cope with being part of the Trick or Treat crew, please just be mindful of a few pointers below, to make this an enjoyable event for all:
- IMPORTANT: Do NOT allow your dog to eat ANY candy or treats collected. These may contain Xylitol (artificial sweetener), chocolate or other ingredients that are poisonous to your dog and could be life-threatening. Bring some of their favorite doggie treats with you instead, so they don’t feel excluded. (You could even try out the recipe for Halloween doggie treats posted on Facebook this Tuesday).
- Do NOT encourage or allow strangers to pet your dog – especially if they are in scary costumes!
- Keep your dog on a leash AT ALL TIMES – there are all manner of things that could easily spook your pooch and the ‘fight or flight’ reaction kicks in. Remember that your dog is your guardian (in their eyes) and protecting you is their No.1 job, so it is easy for them to misinterpret playful Halloween antics as a threat towards you that they need to defend.
- Keep your dog’s inquisitive snout and costume away from lit candles or pumpkins.
- Bring along a poop-bag in case your dog needs to relieve themselves.
- Make sure your dog is wearing their ID tag. It’s also an ideal time to check that the microchip company have your up to date details, so you can be quickly reunited with your runaway pet, if they get spooked.
#2 Have a dress rehearsal
Costumes on dogs can bring a smile to anyone’s face, but this should not be at the expense of your pet’s comfort. If you are planning on dressing up your dog, have a dress rehearsal at least a couple of times before the event. This will give you an opportunity to see how your dog reacts and give them a chance to get used to it.
The costume should NEVER impede their movement, breathing, hearing or vision, as this may cause your pet unnecessary stress. Also, keep checking to make sure there are no wardrobe malfunctions as you do the Trick or Treat circuit.
Please note that if your dog licks their lips, yawns, shows a half moon of white in their eyes, turns away from you, tries to escape, growls or puts his teeth on you or the costume, these are sure fire clues that they are not comfortable. Try to scale the costume down or perhaps just revert to a jaunty coat or neckerchief/bandana.
The rest of the family also need to take part in the dress rehearsal, as your pooch may not even recognize you in your costumes, may be startled/scared by them, or become over-excited by dangling accessories or flowing fabric that they constantly want to chase or chew!
#3 Will your hound be home alone?
Here are a few top tips to help reduce your best friend’s stress levels:
- If your furry friend isn’t up to Trick or Treating, make sure they are snuggled up with their favorite blanket and toy in a quiet room in the house, away from the front door. They may actual prefer being in their covered over crate, where they feel safe and secure.
- Give them a kong filled with treats or a long-lasting chew to keep them occupied.
- Turn on the radio or TV to help drown out the scary noises.
- If your dog usually barks when the doorbell rings or when someone passes by the window, then disconnect the bell and close the dra
- NEVER leave your dog in the yard around Halloween (even if you are at home!). It’s a sad fact that many pets are subjected to vicious pranks, injured, stolen or even killed on Halloween, so make sure they are kept safe and secure indoors.
- Keep electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations out of reach. While these are safer than candles, you don’t want an anxious or mischievous pooch chewing wires or batteries, that could potentially lead to a life-threatening electric shock , chemical burns or intestinal damage.
#4 Greeting Trick or Treaters at home?
Staying indoors with your furry friends at Halloween is probably their favorite option (and perhaps yours!), but you may still be prepared to welcome Trick or Treaters to your home.
However, please remember that your dog’s inbred duty is to protect both you (their family) and their territory (your home). A constant flow of strangers and screaming children dressed in scary costumes can cause a normally placid dog to become agitated and even aggressive, because they think their family is being threatened.
A loud barking dog can also be very scary and intimidating, especially to young children, so keeping the dog away from all the excitement may be the best option for all. Also, the last thing you want is for your spooked pooch to bolt out the door into the night and an even more dangerous and scary environment.
Wishing you and your canine companions a safe and happy Halloween!
Helen Broadley & the FidoActive Team