Five Keys to a Safe Halloween

I asked my students in class last night: what’s your plan for your puppy on Halloween? I got 6 blank stares – no one had thought about what to do with the dog! And because most of the dogs were new to their homes, owners and dogs had no experience with the perils of Halloween. Here are five keys to a safe and happy Halloween with your dog:

1) Dogs love tricks, and dogs love treats but “Trick or Treat” is for kids. Don’t take your dog out for trick or treating, or to the neighbourhood bonfire. I agree, Halloween is a family activity, but if you’re at the bonfire and realize that your dog is out of control or worse, completely stressed out, it will really dampen everyone’s spirits. So, assess your dog honestly – does he love to be out at night, on-leash, with lots of weird people in strange garb participating in bizarre rituals? No? Leave him at home.

2) Don’t leave your dog in the backyard – some people do stupid things at Halloween – they open gates; they think it’s funny to scare dogs; they steal dogs; they set off loud fireworks. Dogs get freaked out and jump fences. November 1st is a pretty big day at the SPCA for reuniting stray, frightened dogs with their people. If your dog needs a potty break, take him out back, fully supervised, or even on leash.

3) Be extra vigilant at the front door. Bell ringing and door knocking – how exciting is that? And now, squealing, strange hobgoblins seem to be invading your dog’s home. This could be the most wonderful night of your dog’s life or a complete horror show. Know your dog! Unless your dog is perfect (and I mean PERFECT) and rock solid at front door manners then strictly manage her. Leashes, baby gates, crates or even a whole other room with a tasty chew toy is nothing to be ashamed of. If there are two of you manning the door – great! One of you is in charge of Fido and the other in charge of satisfying the hunger of small, blood-thirsty vampires.

4) It seems mean – but don’t share your candy. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs – depending on the type of chocolate, the size of your dog and the amount consumed. Click here to view a very cool toxicity meter – it will help you determine if your dog has reached a toxic level in chocolate consumption. Xylitol (a sugar substitute found in gum) is also lethal. Not sure how much your dog ate? Or how to read the symptoms? Call your vet! And by the way, watch out for stray candy wrappers too – no one needs a Mr. Big wrapper in their poop on November 1st.

5) And on a more personal note – can we give up dressing up our dogs for Halloween? I’ve met plenty of people who say their dog “loves” it. Funny….I haven’t yet met a dressed-up dog that agrees. ‘Nuff said. However, if you are adamant that Fluffy LOVES Halloween and has a statement to make with her Marilyn Monroe costume then please make sure Fluffy can see and that she can breathe (and pant) unimpeded. And remember, dressed up or 'au natural'....

Enjoy your Dog!

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