Tricks and Treats may be fun for people and some dogs, but many dogs need some extra attention and vigilance around the Halloween season. Kim Melanson, CPDT-KA, Behavior Counselor at the Center for Shelter Dogs shares some advice.
Keep treats out of reach of your dog. Some candies, fruits, nuts and chocolate can upset your dog’s digestion. Some are even dangerous and poisonous for dogs, raisins, grapes, dark and baking chocolate and the artificial sweetener, Xylitol, to name a few. Some houses do give out coins for Halloween so watch out for coins and pennies, some dogs will ingest them.
Halloween decorations should be secure and away from pet areas. Electrical wires and cords in the house could attract dangerous chewing. If candles are used, be careful that the dog cannot knock them over or get to them. Also, some of the decorations that are noisy and scary could scare your dog, so be aware of this and keep those outside or out of sight of your dog.
Trick or Treaters coming to your house can often cause stress, over excitement and/or scare dogs. Even children they know, who are dressed up in costumes and masks, could scare a dog that is usually friendly to the neighbors. Your dog is better off secured in a crate and/or back room, to be away from the door and action. This is crucial if you have a shyer or fearful dog that normally avoids any of these things: children, loud noises, busy places, new people and new things. Other dogs, although friendly, are very excited and may bark and jump at the door and people; they would be better off in a separate room too. Practicing training and polite greetings at the door on Halloween night is not advised, as it is too distracting and too busy for the dog and you to be able to learn.
Beware of Tricksters, unfortunately some people still like to vandalize and play dirty tricks at Halloween time. Included in these may be; teasing, letting dogs out, throwing things, or even stealing dogs left outside. Do not leave your dog outside unattended, especially at night, and do not allow your dog to be the front yard greeter on Halloween night.
Newly adopted dogs and puppies should be watched closely, as you might not know exactly how they will react during Halloween time. On walks before Halloween night, notice how they react to decorations: fearful, curious or indifferent? How have they been with strangers and/or children? They should be kept secure in a separate room. It would be good if you could have someone in there with them to notice behavior and whether they are scared of all the noises and action? You can always add music and a nice chew toy or bone to their area so that they are distracted and maybe even happy during trick or treating time.
If your dog is a genuinely friendly, relaxed, confident and calm dog with familiar and unfamiliar people, things and dogs, maybe he could be included in the festivities. It’s best if he is on leash sitting while saying hello as people and children come to the door. You could even have dog treats that he gets from the Trick or Treaters for sitting and doing tricks at the door. He could walk the neighborhood with an adult; do not let a child hold your dog’s leash on Halloween, as they have much more fun if they don’t have dog care responsibility that night. If you are sure your dog is comfortable wearing clothes or costumes dress him up if you like and take him to a dog Halloween celebration. See our tips on dressing up your dog on Halloween.
If your dog does join in the fun, please remember not all other dogs, children or adults like dogs; children are often scared of dogs, so be considerate and keep your dog close to you unless a person asks to greet and say hello to your dog.
Have a Spooktacular Halloween!