Times Staff Writer
Halloween is meant to be a fun holiday for humans, but for our four-legged family members, Halloween can be terrifying. Dog owners might not be able to control what goes on outside, but they can help their pets get through the night by doing a few simple things. Bark Buster, a dog training company, offers these tips. Don't leave your dog outside. Bring your dog inside, where it is safe. If your dog is usually kept outside, bring him in a few times before the big night to get him used to being indoors. It is a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there is no shortage of strangers.
Keep your dog restrained. If your dog is timid or scared, or if he tends to love people a little too much, it is best to put him in a separate room away from the front door to limit excitability, aggression and the chance of running outside and becoming lost.
Be reassuring. The best thing you can do is to act as you normally would. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him an unusual amount of attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that there must be something to worry about. Have your dog get used to costumes. Your dog may see his family members as strangers once they don their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to scent the costumes. If your costume has a mask, keep the mask off when you are with your dog because dogs can become confused when they can't see our faces.
Check your dog's ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog's collar — just in case. Keep candy away. Many candies — especially chocolate — are toxic to dogs. Problems may range from a mildly upset stomach to vomiting and diarrhea, or even death. If you have any concerns at all, consult with a veterinarian immediately.
Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Excited or agitated dogs can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Be sure those items are away from your dog's reach, or consider a battery-powered candle that does not burn.
Think twice about dressing your dog in a costume. While some dogs might enjoy being dressed up, many don't. Experiment first to see how your dog reacts. If he doesn't mind, fine — he'll most likely enjoy himself and the extra attention it brings. But if he shows any resistance, don't do it.
Be prepared. If you take your dog with you while trick-or-treating, be prepared at all times. Do not let your dog approach the door of a house, and stay clear of possible gags or gangs of goblins who will gather at the door. Dogs do not understand that the person jumping out at you will not hurt you; they often think they can only help you by acting aggressively. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner's consent.
For more information about Bark Busters or to locate a trainer, call toll-free 1-877-500-2275 or go to www.BarkBusters.com.