Have a Happy Halloween with Your Dog 

Read this BEFORE halloween and you’ll be all set for October 31 with your dog. 

If you are a dog parent, the best part of Halloween is dressing up your dog, right? This person thinks so.  

But not all dogs like “howl-o-ween”, because, well, it may be absolutely terrifying. Like July 4th, there are strange noises, shapes, and commotion that could cause your dog to panic and potentially even run away.  But you can have all treats this year by following these tips to a happy Halloween with your dog.  

Assess your dog’s personality and temperament 

If your dog is good at playing with children, lying still, the occasional poke, they might be willing to wear the costume you spent many hours picking out for them. Like Service Animals, dogs with low reactivity and high trainability will make the best candidates, since they are less likely to react to a new stimulant and strive to make you happy.  

The same logic is true when considering if you should take them trick-or-treating or leave them at home. If your dog tends to be more nervous, barks at people, doesn’t like bulky looking items, such as bags, umbrellas, or children running around in masks with pumpkin buckets… maybe there is a role for them at the house. More on that later. 

Dress to Impress 

If you’ve determined that your dog is a good candidate to wear a costume, you’ve reached the next step – choosing the costume. Maybe you know from the moment you brought him home what he was going to wear on October 31st. In any case, you need to assess if this costume is for a quick (and hilarious) picture or if it will be worn all day. If it’s the latter it’s important to make sure it’s allowing free movement and breath throughout the day and that it’s not too warm.  

This Golden makes a lovely mermaid

Be mindful that your dog is always under your supervision while dressed up. If you’re not going to be with them, take the costume off until you return, as they can end up hurting themselves trying to get out of it.  

If your dog does not want to wear a costume but you want them to wear a costume, there is still hope. Choose a costume with as little bulk as possible. See if you can accessorize a harness. Or, get out the treats and do some positive exposure therapy. Start with giving treats near the costume and for sniffing the costume. Without putting it on, pet your dog using the costume and give them treats. Put it on but don’t tie it and give treats. Do a little more every day until you’ve worked up to Halloween. (See more on that here) 

Give them a role at home 

If your dog is more the homebody type, consider what they will do while you greet trick-or-treaters. If they tend to explore, but you want to have them as part of your experience, it’s a good idea to set up a leash near the door to keep them safe. Are they more of a scaredy-cat? Set them up in a comfortable space away from the door with all their favorite toys and something to keep them busy, like a peanut butter filled kong. If your dog is the protective type, consider keeping them away from the door so a scary costume doesn’t set them off.  

Share in the treats 

Halloween is all about the treats, so make sure you dog has their own special snacks. Did you know your dog can join you in pumpkin carving? It’s true, dogs love pumpkin and squash. A spoon of natural canned pumpkin can help with digestive troubles too. Feel free to share your carving scraps with them and keep the seeds for yourself. Remember to keep open flames, chocolate, and candy bowls out of reach, especially when you’re not home.   

Wear ID 

For some, the scariest part about Halloween can become a lost pet. Halloween events can cause confusion, fear and/or disorientation in your dog. Even if they’d never leave your side on a regular day, Halloween is a whole other story. Shelters event report higher rates of lost animals on Halloween, so no matter what costume your dog is wearing, make sure they’ve got ID on their collar so if the worst happens, you can be reunited fast.  

We hope these simple tips help you and your dog have a happy howl-O-ween.

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