Guest Blog Post by Penny Martin
Halloween is one of the most fun times of year. With decorations, costumes, and candy everywhere, who wouldn’t have fun? Oftentimes we forget about our pets during this time. We may be excited to dress them (see our friends at Republic of Paws or Bon Pet Supply) up in costumes as well, but we don’t consider it being a stressful and potentially dangerous time of year for them. They don’t understand what holidays are about. Since we can’t explain things to them, we need to look out for them and make sure they are comfortable and safe.
Dogs love to be around their owners. Many are very relaxed, but some are a little high-strung, especially if things aren’t normal. Where Halloween may be normal for us, it is not for your dog. With extra people wandering the streets of your neighborhood, and people continuously ringing your doorbell, there are a lot of added stress factors to consider with your dog. Along with the doorbell, you’re getting up constantly to answer the door, which can cause even more anxiety for them. There are a few things we can do to help keep them safe.
On Halloween night try to keep everything as close to normal as possible. It will be difficult, but the more normal it is for your dog the better. You may need to try a few things with your pup. Pay attention to how they’re acting, and try to do what you normally do with them. Here are a few ideas to help keep your dog safe:
Take your dog outside prior to trick-or-treating. If they usually go out in the backyard to do their business, then let them out before kids start coming by. If they need to go out on a leash, do that instead. Make sure they use the restroom before you bring them in. If they are inside later on and need to go outside, this will only increase their anxiety and there could be an accident.
Secure your dog in the backyard. If they are used to spending a lot of time in the backyard, it could potentially be the safest place for them. They’re separated from the front door, they don’t have to hear the doorbell ringing constantly, and you don’t have to worry about them bolting out the door. A drawback to being in the backyard is that they are likely to see the dozens of children and parents walking past your house and up to your door, so this could stress them out quite a bit. They could start barking incessantly from nerves, which could disturb neighbors and do more harm than good for your beloved dog. A hazard to being outside is they could become agitated and break out of the yard. Another hazard to being outside is that there are occasionally unsavory people that target pets on Halloween night. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s something to consider if they’re going to be outside and perhaps unattended.
Trick-or-treat with your dog. Trick-or-treating is a fun activity for the whole family - including two-legged and four-legged members! Since your dog is part of the family, you might consider taking him or her with you on Halloween. If you have a social, active dog who enjoys being around people and is healthy enough to walk for long periods of time, taking your dog with you trick-or-treating can be an option. Of course, it’s important to consider safety when walking your dog anywhere at night. Invest in nighttime walking gear, such as a reflective dog leash, harness, or collar with blinking lights. That way, other people and drivers can see your dog and you can keep an eye on your four-legged pal while walking.
Gate your dog. Install a baby gate if you don’t have one in order to block access to the front door - keeping them confined in a separate room. If the gate is new, you probably want to try it prior to Halloween night, in case they decide to jump it or knock it down, which would defeat its purpose completely. If they’re not used to a gate, this could backfire and your dog may vacate the second the front door opens. This would not only put them in harm’s way, but it may scare the children or whoever is at the door if they don’t like dogs. They can also hear the doorbell this way, so if this riles up your dog, it might not be the best solution.
Crate your dog. If your dog is crate trained, then this may be the safest, most secure, and least stressful way to secure your dog for the evening. If they’ve been properly crate trained, it’s a safe place for them. So, even if it’s a little chaotic in the house, they know they’re good where they are. Also, if they do start to get excited with everything going on, including the doorbell, you know they’re not going to escape. Peace of mind goes a long way.
It is easy to overlook the needs and emotions of your dog during Halloween with all of the fun activities going on, but remember they need attention too. Trying to do what’s best for your dog will help them not only be safe, but feel safe. Whether it’s keeping them in a yard, barricaded in the house by a gate, or safely stowed in their crate, be sure they’re secure and comfortable. Knowing what your pup needs will keep you both happy and stress-free Halloween night.