Having a Happy and SAFE Halloween

Halloween is just a few weeks away and most of us are getting ready to have fun with friends, family and neighbors. While everyone is usually mindful about taking steps to make sure that they stay safe and keep the kids out of trouble, sometimes we forget that our four legged friends can get in just as much trouble around the holidays as the kids can. While you’re gearing up for this year’s festivities, keep in mind a few simple precautions that you can take to help make sure that your dogs stay safe as well.

Store your candy out of reach – this includes the bowl that you’re passing out to trick-or-treaters, the stash of the good stuff you saved for yourself, and what the kids bring home. Even the best behaved dogs that may not usually steal food can have a hard time passing by such a temptation.

It’s not just the sugar or the chocolate that can hurt them. If they swallow wrappers or pieces of hard candy they can end up with a bowel obstruction. Consider keeping the treats in the cabinets, on a high shelf, or in a closet when you’re not able to physically monitor it.

Work on door manners in advance – whether you’re having people over for a party or passing candy out to the neighborhood kids, having to wrestle the dog away from the door, deal with excess barking every time the bell rings, or chase your dog down the street at night is not at the top of anyone’s list of good times. Make sure that your dog can let you answer the door comfortably if he’s going to be loose in the house. You can work on training them to go to their bed when the bell rings or do a sit stay next to you as you answer (you should still keep a leash and collar on them in case they get excited or scared).

If this seems like it might be too much to ask of your dog on such short notice then it might be best to make sure they have a quiet room or crate to hang out in away from all the action and leave a tv or radio playing for background noise. If your dog is prone to getting overexcited or has issues with being fearful or nervous then it may be best to consider sending them to stay at daycare overnight. No matter what plan you choose, be sure to spend some time with them during the day walking or playing so that they are able to get out their energy in advance of all the excitement.

Even “outdoor” dogs are better off inside – every family has their own setup for how they manage their dogs’ indoor/outdoor time. Some people prefer big dogs to be outside when people are over or until they go to bed. Others want even the biggest dogs by their side all day long. There’s no right or wrong way as long as your dog is happy and well cared for. However, on a night when so many strangers will be wandering the neighborhood, many of them wearing costumes that could scare your dog, and some of them playing pranks and making noise, it’s definitely a better idea to keep any and all dogs inside as much as possible and have them on a leash by your side if you go outside to chaperone the kids or take them to the bathroom. Even the best behaved dog could get scared or overexcited and run into the street or knock a child down, and even with a fence your dog could be teased by passersby who may not love and respect animals the same way that you do.

No matter how you celebrate the holiday, or even if you’re just sitting at home quietly, these simple tips should help ensure that you and your dogs have the fun, safe evening you deserve.