Halloween can be a scary good time for everyone in the family, even the family dog. However, you must keep your dog’s needs in mind when planning for any Halloween parties of treks around the neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. By keeping some Halloween safety tips in mind, you can almost guarantee a good time for Fido and the rest of the family, too.
1) Dress up your dog, but only if he wants you to.
We all tend to ooh and ah when we see a dog in a costume, but how does your dog feel? Many dogs will tolerate being dressed up in a costume, to a certain degree, but they’ll usually let you know how they feel. Dogs that wear sweaters and other accoutrements year round will be less likely to show resistance at wearing a costume. Look for signs that your dog is just not into the costume. Changes in body language and mood are good indicators that your dog doesn’t appreciate his costume. Even if your dog does like being dressed up, always be sure that your dog can see, eat, drink and move around freely. Any part of the costume that blocks use of any of his senses should not be used. Simply, put if your dog shows signs that he’d rather not be in a costume, honor his wishes.
2) Crowd control is highly favored.
How does your dog generally respond to crowds of people? Has he ever even been in crowds of people? If your dog has never been exposed to crowds of kids, adults, and teenagers (especially costumed) then you might want to keep him contained in another room during parties and keep him at home during trick-or-treating time. Kids get scared on Halloween night, and with good reason, don’t you think so? Dogs will be just as scared if they’re not used to any kind of hoopla. A scared dog is likely to fight or flee from any perceived dangers. Don’t take any chances if you’re not sure.
3) Identification should be worn today and every day.
As mentioned above, dogs flee when they’re scared and Halloween is well, a scary night. Make sure your dog is not only microchipped, but also wearing a leash and collar with identification tags. Having your dog returned to you sooner rather than later is closely tied to the fact of whether or not he has identification tags on. Identification tags should be up to date. This means a current phone number and address should be stamped on his tag. Be certain that your dog’s microchip information in the central database is up to date. The last thing you want is for your dog to become lost and unable to be reunited with you because you moved and “forgot” to update his microchip information.
4) Closely monitor what treats your dog has access to.
We all love a good treat, and are especially drawn to those that smell good. Our dogs are no different. However, our dogs don’t understand what is toxic to them and what isn’t. Candy and treats meant for people are highly toxic to dogs, especially chocolate and artificially sweetened treats, as well as the wrappers they are encased in. Don’t allow your dog to eat any treats made for human consumption. Be sure that all family members and other adults or children that may have access to your dog are aware of the dangers associated with dogs consuming human treats, too. Neglecting to do so can cost your dog his life. Also, be sure to closely monitor your dog. If you are unable to do so due to the distractions of the holiday, you may want to rethink including your dog in the festivities and have him relax in a safe space in your home.
5) Keep your dog on the leash.
If you decide to take your dog out for Halloween, be sure he’s always on his leash. The foot traffic and car traffic pose a threat to your dog even if you don’t seem to think so. Any change in environment can cause stress on your dog. This can manifest itself in different ways. As mentioned before, your dog may try to flee. Even worse, your dog may show his fear by acting out aggressively. Your dog may become frightened easily and you should be prepared for that. It may even be advisable to muzzle your dog if you take him out, but honestly if you have that thought you may be better off leaving him home.
By following these 5 tips, you are more likely to keep your dog safe and happy this Halloween. Parties, parades and trick-or-treating are all fun times for the whole family, but you have to keep your dogs safe. The unpredictability can be a recipe for disaster for our creatures of habit if you are not prepared. Wishing you a safe and Happy Halloween.