As much fun as Halloween can be for mammals of the two legged variety, not everyone enjoys the frightful holiday as much as we do. For our four legged children, Halloween is terrifying—literally.
Imagine this scenario: you wake up in an unfamiliar place surrounded by funny, if not, odd looking people, sickly smells, flashing, blinking, and strobing lights, as well as intense, prolonged noises for hours on end. Doesn’t sound enjoyable does it? To describe it in that manner, that’s how our canines perceive Halloween. Everything about it can be unsettling for even the most cool, calm, and collected pups.
To keep Fido happy and safe during the season of terror, follow these easy, simple tips:
Keep the candy out of reach. We all know how dangerous chocolate can be for dogs. With the overabundance of candy on Halloween, it’s easier than ever for them to get their paws on it! Put the candy bowl in a high, inaccessible place and monitor candy consumption in the household (especially if the little ones are rummaging through their candy on the living room floor!). We promise you’ll appreciate skipping a trip to the emergency vet or worse!
Double check identification. In the event you are planning to take Spot out on the town with you on Halloween night, double check that they have proper identification. You never know what may spook them (again, literally!), so at least if they get away from you, your contact information is easily accessible ensuring that you and Spot will be reunited sooner than later. If they are micro-chipped and your information has changed, be sure to update that as well.
Create a safe haven. If you know that your house is going to be the most popular place on the block on Halloween, consider creating a safe space for your dogs to hang out during the festivities (or at least have an opportunity to get away from the action). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; maybe you place a cushy blanket in the corner of the closet, close the blinds, curtains, and bedroom door, and turn on some soothing music. In situations like these, the more familiar for the animal the better. It will prevent overwhelm, keep to their routine, and make sure they stay safe.
Remove masks and other head/face covering garments. Even when I wear a clay mask, my dogs immediately get weirded out by my changed appearance. If Fido sees a scary mask, hat, crazy beard, or face paint, he may not know who you are and react accordingly. The change in appearance can be very stressful for them, because they don’t understand, like we do, that it’s all make believe.
Maintain a safe distance. If you’ve got a nervous Nelly like I do, children running up to her on a normal basis is scary. Add costumes and a sugar rush, and the little ones are sure to send her stress level through the roof. If you know your dog is wary of tiny people already or easily spooked, opt to leave them at home.
Don’t force the dress up. Some dogs LOVE to wear clothes, but that’s not something that comes natural to most of them. If your dog is showing signs of nervousness—ears back, tail tucked, wide eyes, closed mouth, tight jawline, stiff, rigid body movement, or cowering—they are showing you, they don’t like playing dress up. In other words, don’t force it.
Wires, plastic, and batteries, oh my! It’s not uncommon for Spot to think that those Halloween decorations are actually his brand new chew toys. Between all the plastics, wires, batteries, dyes, and glitter, Halloween decorations can be toxic and extremely dangerous to dogs. Decorate in out of reach areas or be sure to supervise their activity in any spaces that have Halloween decorations.