By Joanne Rice, Behavioral Therapist and Trainer, Bark Busters Home Dog Training
Halloween can be a dangerous holiday for your dog. Keep your dog safe with these tips.
- Bring your dog indoors. Even if you have a fenced yard, bring your dog inside where he cannot be harmed or overwhelmed by little ghouls and goblins. If he is an outside dog, bring him in a few times before the big night to get him comfortable. Remember, it is a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there will be plenty of strangers.
- Keep your dog restrained. If your dog is timid or scared, or if he tends to love people a little too much, put him ina separate room away from the front door. This will limit his excitement, aggression, or chance of running outside and getting lost or injured.
- Reassure your dog. If your dog seems to feel unsettled by Halloween activities, just act as normally as possible. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him extra attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that there must be something to worry about.
- Have your dog get used to costumes. Your dog may regard his family members as strangers once they don their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to smell the costumes. Keep masks off while your dog is around.
- Check your dog's ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog's collar - just in case.
- Keep candy away from your dog. Many candies, especially those containing chocolate or xylitol, an artificial sweetener, are toxic to dogs. Problems can range from a mild upset tummy to vomiting and diarrhea, or even death. For your dog's safety, be sure to keep all sweets and their wrappers well away from him.
- Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Agitated or excited dogs can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Keep such items out of your dog's reach, or consider using a battery-powered candle that does not burn.
- Think twice about dressing your dog in a costume. While some dogs do enjoy being dressed up, many don't. Experiment first to see if your dog likes being in a costume. If he shows any resistance, don't do it. Tie a fun bandana around his neck and he'll be happier and safer.
- Consider carefully and be prepared. Think carefully about taking your dog with you on trick-or treating rounds. You may unintentionally instill a new fear of strangers in him, creating a wariness that could last long past the holiday. If you do take your dog, keep a firm grip on his leash. Dogs do not understand that the person jumping out at you will not hurt you; they often think they can only help you by acting aggressively. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner's consent.
For more dog training and safety tips see www.barkbusters.com