Halloween: Fun or Fright for Fido?

Shrieking kids, scary masks and lots of doorbell ringing may sound like fun for candy-loving kids, but it can be a real fright for our dogs. Look at this quirky night through your dog’s eyes and tailor his Halloween experience to fit his personality. Halloween can be a fun opportunity to show off your dog’s cute costume, just keep safety in mind for kids and dogs, so your night can be more kooky than spooky.

Doorbell ringing agitates most dogs. During the most active trick or treat hours, limit your dog’s access to the front door. Costumed strangers shouting “Trick-or-Treat” and rustling large bags of candy may motivate your dog to protect his territory with aggressive barking. Is your dog slightly skittish? He may have the opposite reaction, and try to dart out the open door as you are handing out candy. Try a crate or gated area outfitted with a treat-filled chew toy and a comfy bed until Trick or Treat rush hour is over.

Your dog may be the unflappable type, bless him. He barely turns a hair at sugar-crazed, rowdy children in billowing Batman outfits. You bought the cutest costume just for him, and you want to show it off when you take the kids to trick-or-treat. Go for it, but try these tips to maximize your dog’s enjoyment:

Consider calling a couple of dog-owning friends and check to see if they want to come along for Trick or Treat. Dogs are happier with four-footed company, and your kids will bag more candy with the added cuteness factor.

Another fun option is a Halloween party. Kids can make a craft project out of making dog biscuits and stashing them around the house for your dog to find. Recipes are readily available, and the dog will savor the anticipation.

Parties involving kids in costume will be tolerated only by the mellowest of family dogs, so know your dog’s limits.

Kids do not always use good judgment when greeting dogs, and many are actually encouraged to hug and lay on their own dogs at home. If your dog is approached in this way by a child he doesn’t absolutely adore, he may react with his teeth, which conjures up a liability nightmare for you.

We all know that chocolate is deadly for dogs, but foil wrappers and lollipop sticks can require an expensive vet visit, or worse. Kids should keep candy well away from pets, in a closed cabinet out of the reach of prying paws.

If your dog looks a bit over-stimulated and overwhelmed by all the Halloween activity, it may be time to confine him to a safe area in your home where he can sleep it off undisturbed, and dream of the next food-filled holiday.

This dog seems fine with the dress-up thing

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About truedogtrainingtails

I'm a certified dog trainer and on-camera spokesperson. Television appearances include news stories on NBC, ABC, and WGN both live and taped stories about dogs and their welfare, plus appearances on 'The Balancing Act' and 'Designing Spaces', both on Lifetime TV. My DVD for kids and dogs, entitled 'Drool School' won a Parents' Choice Foundation Award. I am D.A.R.T. certified by the Humane Society of the United States for disaster animal response, and I travelled to the Gulf Coast to help with pet rescue after Hurricane Katrina.
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