How To Keep Your Dog Safe During HalloweenWednesday, September 16th, 2009
Halloween is closing in, trick or treaters, pranks, and general mayhem will be afoot, as well as just a whole lot of strangers dressed up in odd ways doing things that aren’t normally encountered in daily life. That’s awfully stressful on a dog. Dogs don’t like change. They don’t like strange, and they really don’t like strange looking and acting strangers.
Some dogs love the attention they get being dressed up and joining the ranks of children and adults out celebrating. If yours does, then by all means, get out there and have fun — safely. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, of children or other strangers approaching too fast and frightening your dog or putting him into protective mode. Use a reflective leash and collar and be sure to wear something reflective yourself.
Using a shorter leash is a good idea as well. Everyone who is out on Hallowe’en night isn’t there for innocent fun. There are always a few with darker intentions; people who will swerve to hit your dog if he’s on a leash that’s long enough to allow him to be farther away from your side, crazies who take pleasure in the pain of animals, or who would snatch a dog away from the owner just to cause grief to the stricken owner. Don’t make it easy for them.
As a general rule, don’t let the kids take the dog trick or treating. Kids are into the moment and the excitement and don’t always pay as much attention to the dog as is necessary. They also tend to give the dog more credit for being the brains of the operation, for having the job of looking out for them, and don’t realize they need to be looking out for their dog, not letting other kids swoop down on him to pet or thinking it’s fun to tease the dog and make him act like that big scary dog they saw in the movies. Tell your kids it’s their night to be kids and you’ll take care of the dog.
Unless your dog is unusually calm and a voracious social animal, he’s probably going to be a whole lot happier and safer in a quiet room with something to keep him occupied; a stuffed kong, raw meaty bone, or a favorite interactive toy, with the television or stereo on just loud enough to obscure part of the sounds of the evening. Even better if a family member stays with him for the duration, or you take turns.
If you want to let your dog get more used to strangeness (or show off his costume) from the safety of home, consider letting him stay in the front room while you answer the door, but leash him and attach the leash to something that will hold him or at least slow him down should he decide to make a break for it.
And whatever you do, put the trick or treat candy somewhere the dog can’t get to it, especially any chocolate. Having a bottle of activated charcoal handy wouldn’t be a bad idea, just in case your dog is more clever than you realized when it comes to getting into things he shouldn’t have!
Halloween, like July 4th and a few other holidays, is never a night to let the dog stay in the back yard, even if you have a secure and private fence. There are too many pranks, too many strange noises, too many chances for things to happen. Even if your dog prefers to be outside, bring him in for the night and leave him inside for the whole night, not just until you’re ready to go to bed. After all, you never know when a witch in need of dog’s toes for a potion might be passing by!
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