Halloween is one of my most favorite "holidays". It's fun and festive and there's chocolate! For our pets, though, Halloween can be stressful and even scary if not downright dangerous. So here's my best tips for a successful night!
1. Halloween Candy is not for pets. All forms of chocolate, especially dark chocolate can be dangerous. This year we even have a new scary substance to worry about: Xylitol, which can be found in sugar free treats. It's so important to keep your candy up and away from your dogs and cats. We like to keep ours in plastic containers that have a tight sealing lid.
2. On Halloween Night, keep all of your pets safely indoors! Halloween is not the night to be leaving pets outside. My parents made that mistake long ago and their cat was hurt very badly by some awful people. Keeping your pets inside is the best way to make sure that they are safe. I would even recommend keeping your indoor/outdoor kitties inside for a few nights before and after Halloween. Black cats are especially at risk for horrible pranks and cruelty that some shelters won't even adopt them out around this time of year so it's important to be cautious with our feline friends.
3. Keep your pets away from the door on the night of Halloween. People coming to the door can be stressful for our dogs during any time of the year and even more so on Halloween where it happens over and over. Some dogs are terrified of children and it's also very common for dogs to be suspicious of people in costumes. Also, Halloween is not the time to work on door dashing, so if you have a dog who is nervous of kids and people or a dog that likes to dart out the door, I would recommend removing them completely to a safe room or crate with a good chewy bone or kong. Or if you've done mat work with your dog, this could be the time to pull it out. If they are comfortable settling on their mat and will stay there then that's okay, too. Remember to give lots of rewards to your dog if they are behaving appropriately and doing what you ask.
|Phoenix and Zoe practice settling on their mat.|
5. Desensitize your pets to Halloween Costumes before the big night. Make sure you try on your pet's Halloween costume a few times before the big night to make sure you've got the right fit and that it's comfortable and also to desensitize your pet to it. Make sure you give them lots of tasty treats for putting up with being dressed up and make it fun! When Zoe was dressed up as a shark, we played with toys and did her favorite training games! She hardly noticed that she was wearing a costume because we made it so fun for her. We also didn't leave it on for very long, mostly for some cute photos. If your pet does not like being dressed up don't force them to do it.
6. Desensitize pets to YOUR costume. Both dogs and cats can be wary of novel items and if you plan on wearing a scary mask, wig or some sort of funny hat, let your pets smell it and check it out before you put it on. Letting them watch you put it on is also helpful. That way they know the "scary" thing is actually just you and it's not a big deal. Feed them a few treats while you're dressing up and make it a good experience. Don't come out of the bedroom fully dressed in something they've never seen before. It can be very startling and it's not okay to scare your pet intentionally.
7. Not all dogs were made to go door to door, Trick Or Treating with their people. Even dogs who are great with their family and kids don't like strangers or other people's kids and that's completely fine! Not to mention other households have dogs, too! If your dog has ever shown signs of being nervous of strangers, kids or other animals it's best to leave them at home where they will feel the most comfortable. Like I said above, it's very common for dogs to be nervous of people in costumes so it's important to keep everybody safe. Some dogs are okay to go with their people out into the Halloween night but they need to be practically bomb proof (excellent temperament, good with people, kids and dogs and have good nerves) with a very well trained leave it. Remember that it will be dark and there could be hidden dangers. There could be chocolate on the ground and it will be hard to see. Also keep in mind that your neighbors may not be as dog savvy with their management skills as you, they are probably not expecting trick or treaters with a canine buddy and their dogs may not want strange dogs visiting their house. If you do take your dog with you, remember to bring lots of tasty treats so that you can reward them for good behavior and distract them if they do end up getting scared by something.
8. Last but not least, your pets should be wearing ID. ID tags are important any time of the year but even more so during these holiday events where the door is being opened repeatedly. Chances of escape are much higher and accidents happen. Wearing proper ID with your updated information can be lifesaving and definitely increases the chances that your pet will make it home safely.
I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween! We will be staying home this year!
What are you doing for Halloween? Are you dressing your pets up? What will they be?