Halloween can be a fun time for the entire family, including the family dog, or it can be a scary, and sometimes even a dangerous situation. Think about it for a moment from your dog’s perspective. Loud, screaming, running monsters, rushing up to the door, ringing the doorbell, screaming and running off. Whew, just that one sentence made me edgy. Now, put that scenario into play for two hours.
Deciding if a dog will join the Halloween festivities needs to be a decision carefully thought through. Will the family dog go Trick-or-Treating, pass out candy, or stay inside? A pros and cons list may come in handy.
First things first. Is the dog social in unusual situations, around unusual sights and sounds? Is he polite, does he walk well on a leash? If yes, then he may be a good candidate to join in on the Trick-or-Treating adventure. Will the dog go commando, or will he be dressed up? If the family dog is going to be dressed up, make sure the costume fits properly and he can have a full range of motion. He should be able to move around, see clearly, and be comfortable. Adding some reflective elements will not only make the costume pop, it also allows drivers to see the dog better in the dark. A dog costume that is along the same theme as the children can be quite cute, but most importantly of all, make sure your pup is comfortable with wearing the costume. Watch his body language for signs of discomfort. If he isn’t comfortable with it, then he shouldn’t wear it.
When taking a dog Trick-or-Treating, it is especially important to remember not all people enjoy dogs. Some people are actually quite scared of dogs. This means that common courtesy should be a top priority. Keeping a dog close while walking, and not allowing him to sniff someone without their consent first is a must. Refraining from bringing Fido on the front porch without permission would be neighborly.
Maybe you have a social dog, but do not have children, or prefer to stay home. Dog costumes can still come into play. As I previously suggested, not everyone enjoys dogs. If the weather permits, this might be a nice time to have two adults sitting outside about 5 feet away, one with the Halloween loot, and the other with the dog. This will give the guests an opportunity to grab their goodies, and say hello to the dog if they wish. By doing this, the dog is also put in a situation where he is more likely going to be polite and in control. If two adults are not an option, a goodie table about 5 feet away from the dog is another good option. Again, allowing the kids to take their treats, and say hello to the dog, or to just walk away.
Perhaps Halloween just isn’t Fido’s thing. This might be a time for one of the adults in the household to hang out in the back bedroom with him. If it is particularly stressful, adding some calming music might be beneficial. Preload hollow chew toys, such as a Kong with tasty food. Purchase some new, safe dog chew toys just for this occasion. New is always more exciting. Ideally, the second adult in the household can sit outside, or on the front porch to avoid the constant doorbell ringing.
Lights out altogether. For some dogs, the only kind thing to do is to turn out the porch light altogether. This does not mean that the neighborhood kids will egg the house, place a bowl of treats on the front porch. You can even write a little note, “Dog is scared, maybe next year.”
With a little planning and consideration, I am sure you will have a spooktacular time with your canine friend.
A FEW TIPS TO MAKE THE NIGHT A SUCCESS
- Extra pick up bags
- Two adults
- Tasty dog treats
- Keep an eye on the human candy
- Use glow sticks or battery operated lights inside pumpkins, not candles
- Backup plan
For more articles by Tonya Wilhelm visit: http://www.raisingyourpetsnaturally.com