One of the most exciting nights of the year is October 31st – Halloween, when spirits and ghoulies roam the earth and the neighbourhood kids in strange costumes come knocking on your door requesting treats. Halloween is great fun for humans but not necessarily so for our dogs. As a London dog walker, I’ve had to give advice to worried dog owners on many a subject just like this, so below are some of my top tips for making Halloween less scary for your pet.
Some people throw themselves into the spirit (excuse the pun) of things and dress up for the occasion, even dressing their dogs up too. If you’re sure your dog doesn’t object to being attired in silly costume then fine, go for it. But if Fido isn’t used to such things then don’t force it on him; a confused and distressed dog is liable to react in ways you may not expect. Similarly, think about how your dog may react to strangers who come to your door. If Pooch usually tries to see off all-comers then he’s definitely not going to be welcoming towards strangers in ghoulish costumes; a costume which looks funny to us may appear threatening to a dog and he may be especially wound up from the repeated ringing of the doorbell. The risk is that your dog may even be frightened of all this activity and may be tempted to make a run for it through an open door. If you’re not sure how your dog is going to be then it may be best to keep him away from the door for the evening and let him rest in a quiet part of the house.
Of course, the best part about Halloween for us is the treats. Chocolate and boiled sweets are especially enjoyable but these things are often toxic for our dogs. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs and boiled sweets often contain xylitol, which is also toxic. Be sure to keep all human treats out of Fido’s reach to avoid a sudden trip to the vet’s surgery.
Halloween parties are another source of potential disaster and upset for our dogs. First of all there’s the music and if it’s very loud it can hurt a dog’s hearing as well as making him agitated. If you know this is going to upset him, put him in a quiet room and make sure strangers know to leave him alone. If you’re decorating the house with lights and pumpkins, make sure the dog can’t get to chew anything or otherwise hurt himself. Have fun and keep your dog safe.