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Keeping your dog safe on Halloween



Its that time of year again where children and adults alike can dress up and pretend to be anything they want without appearing crazy. Everybody has a free ticket to ‘Fantasy Land’ for a full day.

Many people like to share this fun time with their dogs, but its not always as much‘ fun’ for them as most people think.

Dogs love routine, and anything that alters that can cause stress and anxiety in some dogs. Halloween is definitely out of the norm, and many dogs don’t see it as much fun as we do.

What dog trainers see as the most avoidable yet common problem on Halloween are dogs being allowed loose in the house as numerous trick-or-treaters repeatedly approach the door and ring the bell. The family then races to the door to open it, never really knowing what to expect. Most owners don’t see this as a problem especially if their dogs are well behaved, have daily free run of the hose, and are friendly and social.

But what owners need to realize is that dogs are sill animals, with limited reasoning and coping skills. And when the unexpected happens, inherited survival reflexes kick in almost immediately and without warning.

Where most responsible and experienced dog owners have few problems with their dogs behavior, they can become too complacent and trusting when the unexpected comes out of nowhere.

Many families with well-behaved and social dogs think nothing of having their dogs loose and un-managed when they go to open the door on Halloween. However, even though we may think it is funny to see the various costumes and scary masks, many dogs may become frightened and react on instinct. Fight or flight may kick in. If un-attended children innocently reach out to pet your dog, he may snap out of fear. There is usually a lot of crowding at the front door, with numerous children coming and going and busy homeowners turning around to gather up candy to hand out. But who is watching the dog? If he feels trapped and feels fearful, and if cant get out of the way, his only alternative is to bite or snap to protect himself.

Most dog bites to children happen when the dog owners are not present or are being in attentive to the dog. All children and pets need to be supervised by an adult at all times no matter what. Halloween is on top of the list.

So this Halloween lets all be safe. Everyone can have a wonderful time without disaster striking if we all plan ahead. It’s best to confine your dog away from the front door for those few hours of Trick-Or-Treating. If you have a puppy or young dog, put him in a crate in a back bedroom with the door closed, leave the TV or radio on, and give him a yummy filled bone or Kong to keep him busy. For adult dogs, just keep him loose in a back room with the TV on.

Once the trick-or-treaters have stopped coming, let your dog out and THEN allow him to go back to his regular routine. Your dog will be so grateful that he had such a quiet and relaxing nite!

Happy Halloween from Assertive K-9 Training!

Diana Foster-Voorhies, CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainer)


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