As Halloween approaches and you prepare your home and human children for the thrill of trick-or-treat, please be mindful of your dog’s and cat’s reactions to the hubris.
If your dog is used to seeing you and your kids in costumes, then it may not be a big deal when you don your best “Darth Vader” look and suddenly appear in strange disguise.
To be safe, it might help to introduce those funny masks, colorful clothes and accessories BEFORE you dress up for the evening. Let your dog approach, touch and sniff all new objects and include treats as encouragement. Your dog will then equate those spooky things to a yummy gift instead.
However, if they are frightened by your costumes, try putting it on slowly while calling them to you for love, affection, and treats. Masks, hats & plastic accessories should be placed on the ground to allow your dog to investigate them on his own. Speak in soothing words of praise during this process. When he seems comfortable with them, then put them on very casually and slowly while also praising with “good boy”. Ideally this exercise will occur a few days in advance of “fright night”.
Other Halloween safety precautions include:
Keep Candy Out of Nose Reach
While it’s a scream for your trick-or-treaters to fill their buckets with yummy chocolates and wrapped goodies, consumption of chocolate (and potentially xylitol) is toxic to dogs and cats. Wrapped candy, if eaten, is another consideration and possible intestinal obstruction. Make sure your kids have a safe place to stash their haul at the end of the evening and in the days to follow.
Costumes for Dogs and Cats
If you like to dress your dog for Halloween, choose a costume that allows plenty of breathing room. Avoid costume adornments that can be chewed off, choked on or swallowed. A reflective costume is also a good idea.
Keep a watchful eye on candles burning in the pumpkins. Curious noses might get burned if they get too close, or worse, knock them over and start an unintentional fire. Best practice is to buy the LED-or battery style candles if you want to minimize risk yet still have glowing Jack-O-Lanterns for décor.
Keep Pets Safe and Indoors
Keep your dog(s) inside and preferably in a quiet, separate room, away from the front door. The sound of the doorbell ringing will undoubtedly promote barking and the innate pack instinct to protect the family from strangers… especially if they are dressed in weird costumes and making strange (spooky) noises!
Make sure your dog has a collar and I.D. tag with current information. Some dogs will be sufficiently scared to attempt escape or slip out the door during the commotion. Micro-chipping is always a good idea too!
Bringing Fido along
If you take your dog with you while trick-or-treating, stay on the sidewalks or driveways to avoid what might jump out at them at the door. Many homeowners like to dress in costume and spook the kids when the door is opened. Those sincere intentions may not be as well received by your dog.