Halloween can be lots of fun for kids and even adults. But it’s a holiday that dogs may find genuinely frightening. Dogs will encounter lots of rowdy costumed children, tempting treats and may even wear their own costume. The work you have put into dog obedience training with your dog will come in handy. Skills like sit, down and recall can be particularly helpful. Be especially mindful of puppies and their special needs during this time. Prepare for Halloween night with these safety tips for your dogs.

  1. Walk your dog in plenty of time before trick-or-treaters start their visits.
  2. Explain to everyone in your home – especially kids – how dangerous candies are to pets. Keep dogs out of the candy bowl.
  3. Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.
  4. Make sure the dogs can’t get into the trash. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause nerve damage and even death in dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated it is. Raisins are also extremely hazardous for dogs.
  5. Candies containing the artificial sweetner Xylitol (like sugar free gum) can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of this can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures.
  6. Pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively non-toxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset if ingested by your dog. If they swallow a large piece, it could also cause intestinal blockage.
  7. Dress-up can be a big stress maker for dogs. Please don’t put your dog in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it. If you do put a costume on your dog make sure the dog can breathe, see and hear and that the costume is flame retardant. Remove any small or dangling accessories that could be chewed or swallowed. No rubber bands – they cut off circulation.
  8. Allow your dog to feel safe in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treat hours. Too many visitors can stress a dog.
  9. If you do allow your dog to go to the door with you be sure to have a baby gate across the opening to prevent someone accidentally letting your dog out.
  10. At the front door, make sure your dog is on leash.
  11. Make sure your dog’s ID on his collar is current and ON the collar.
  12. Keep your dog inside on Halloween do not leave him or her in the backyard. You do not want your dog to be subject to taunting by children or worse.
  13. Here’s one most people do not think of: allow your dog to get used to people in costumes PRIOR to Halloween night.

Your dog may regard his family members as strangers once they put on their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your do to scent the costumes. Keep masks off while your dog is around. Do NOT allow your kids to scare or taunt the dog while in costume (they shouldn’t ever do that anyway)

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember: “Opportunity Barks”

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