Walking through my local pet store, it is clear that Halloween has gone to the dogs!
There are costumes of all kinds for all shapes and sizes of dogs. If you want your dog to dress up like the horse of the headless rider, you can find that costume. If you want your pug to look like a walking hamburger, you can find that too! I even came across Halloween treats for dogs that are going out trick-or-treating with their owners!
I honestly think that is absolutely hilarious and I hope I get a few dogs showing up at my door looking for a treat for a trick! Looking back over the decades, I recall how things have changed. There was once a time when dogs used to be kept in their crates or in the back bedroom, away from the hustle and bustle of kids and costumes coming to the door, to prevent possible incidents or to keep them from getting underfoot. But now that dogs are a big part of the family unit they are thoroughly encouraged to participate in this event.
If you are bringing Fido along - with or without costume - as you go seeking treats with your kids, please be sure that Fido is comfortable being out in the dark with a variety of unusual and often scary-looking little creatures lurking down the streets. Fido may be friends with the next-door neighbours' children, but when those kids are dressed up as Walking Dead cast members, Fido might not be all that thrilled about walking past them in a calm and accepting manner.
Not every dog is cut out to be dressed up and paraded door to door with an entourage of ghastly monsters or sparkly fairies. If you find that your once happy-go-lucky dog has turned into a scaredy cat at the first sight of Batman, then do your dog a favour and bring it back to the safety and comfort of its home. Forcing your dog to endure this once-ayear event when it doesn't want to may cause some behavioural problems, such as becoming fearful of going out in the dark in general.
For dogs that are at home and are comfortable with the procession of ghosts and goblins coming to the door, be sure to keep them on a leash if they are going to greet the trick-ortreaters. The last thing any dog owner wants to do is chase after their dog when it bolts out a door left open to hand out treats. If you are not sure how your dog will react when kids are coming to your door, then consider keeping Fido behind a baby gate or in another room to prevent mishaps.
If one of the critters at your door has four legs, be sure that the treat you are giving is safe for dogs. Treats designed for humans, such as any chocolate product, are not safe for dogs. Heck, any sugar-based treat is not good for dogs! If you think you might get a few canine visitors on Halloween, make sure you have some dog treats ready for them. Also, some dogs have food sensitivities, so ask the owner first before tossing a treat into Fido's bag.
For those who make it to my front door, I fully expect a trick for a treat! Even shake a paw will do. My favourite has always been "bang your dead." If you have some extra time in your day, teach your dog a fun trick for a treat. It sure will give someone a good giggle. YouTube has some great instructional videos on how to teach your dog a whole host of tricks in a manner of minutes.
Halloween is a fun time to dress up and have a bit of fun, but if you plan on taking your dog with you, make sure that it is comfortable in this environment so that everyone can enjoy this nocturnal event.
Joan has been working with dogs for more than 15 years in obedience, tracking and behavioural rehabilitation. Contact her through her website k9kinship.com.
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