7 tips to keep your dog safe and happy this Howl-oween

Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year and it can be fun for all members of the family, including those with four legs. Dogs are increasingly becoming part of our lives and taking part in the same activities we do, including dressing up for halloween.

But not every dog will enjoy the holiday as much as others and some might not feel comfortable putting on a costume or taking part in the activities. This is why it’s important to keep your dog safe, happy  and comfortable this spooky season.

Now, Dogs Trust has shared a seven tips to keep your dog from getting too scared on Halloween.

  1. Never force your dog to wear a costume. We all love to see adorable puppies dressed up as the latest superhero or Disney character, but sometimes adding a new and unfamiliar item for your dog to wear can cause them to be uncomfortable. You should also be aware of anything that could cause abrasions or irritations, resulting in your dog overheating, or stopping them from expressing normal behaviour. Dogs Trust recommends spooky or decorative bandannas for your pup. Ultimately, your dog’s comfort should be top priority with a costume.
  2. Don’t force your dog to receive any unwanted attention. This includes attention from family members, as they may not recognise people in costumes and feel frightened.
  3. Adapt your routine in order to miss the costumes and fireworks. It’s a good idea to head out before any festivities may begin and take extra tasty treats with you. If you spot any trick or treaters while you’re out, keep your distance or even walk away from them and reward your dog with a treat while you turn around to avoid any ghoulish encounters that might scare your dog.
  4. Be careful when opening doors so your dog doesn’t accidentally escape. Before Halloween arrives, think about your dog’s access to the door. Popping your dog on a lead before you open the door or ensuring they don’t have access to the door when trick or treaters pop by will help to keep them safe. If you can’t close off access to your door, you can teach your dog to wait at doorways, decreasing the chance of your dog running out the door or jumping up at trick or treaters. Dogs Trust also recommends your dog wears a collar and an ID tag and that their microchip details are up to date in case they escape.
  5. Keep human treats and sweets safely out of your dog’s reach. This one may seem obvious. Many human treats, especially chocolate, are toxic to dogs. It’s safest to keep these treats well out of your dog’s reach, and in case they accidentally sneak a human treat, you can teach your dog to leave it before the trick or treaters start knocking. Raisins, grapes and the sweetener xylitol are also some of the foods that are toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten anything they shouldn’t, please call your local veterinary practice immediately and always store their out of hours emergency number on your phone. Try instead natural dog treats with ingredients such as eggs, bananas, and peanut butter (xylitol-free).
  6. Feed your dog their main meals before the trick or treating begins so they can eat at a relaxed time. You could save a small portion of their food to prepare some food-based enrichment activities for later in the evening, to help keep them calm and relaxed.
  7. Think twice about taking your dog out trick or treating. Even dogs who aren’t fazed by people dressed up and all the excitement involved with Halloween may not enjoy it for as long as you do. They might prefer to be at home in their safe and comfy space with their favourite enrichment activity and toys.
Never force a costume on your dog (image: Dogs Trust)

“We don’t recommend taking your dog ‘Trick or Treating’, but that doesn’t mean your dog needs to be left out of the fun,” Dogs Trust states. “As well as keeping your dog safe, it’s important to ensure that you can make the night as enjoyable for them as possible by keeping them happily occupied with treats and games.”

The Trust adds that it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s body language and respond appropriately if you spot any signs of fear or anxiety. Make sure your dog has the opportunity to move away from a situation or interaction if they choose to.

“Halloween can be fun for all the human members of the family, but for dogs it can be a frightening time of the year,” Angela Wetherall, Dogs Trust Manager, told Wales24. “Your dog may be exposed to many unfamiliar sights and sounds, and they could easily become overwhelmed by the number of knocks at the door from people they don’t recognise, combined with being unnerved by the sound of any fireworks.”

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