Howl-O-Ween is on it’s Way!!!
THIS is my time of year!!!! I am SUPER excited about Halloween, it has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday (everyone thought I was a weird kid), and now that I have kids of my own, I am loving the costumes, parties, and activities all month! September 1st, I got pumpkins, and we started watching the Nightmare Before Christmas…(months ago)! I love including the dogs in everything that I do, and thanks to April, at California Chi, we have an awesome theme of costumes this year for our whole pack! As much as I’d like to drag them door to door with the kids, I’m well aware that being out with the madness isn’t something all dogs are comfortable with. Every year, the week before the spooky holiday, I always take a few minutes in my classes to discuss some halloween safety with my clients before I send them on their way.
Spooky Sights and Creepy Noises
Animals are always a little unsure about what looks different, so Halloween is clearly a day of possible doggy panic attacks. The masks, the sounds, and the crazy costumes that make you walk with a different gate. Now, clearly all dogs have a different threshold, for instance, Vino could care less if someone is wearing the craziest mask you’d ever seen…Karma on the other hand is pretty scared of lawn ornaments on occasion. But why chance it? If your dog runs into something that truly terrifies them, they loose the ability to see reason, and it doesn’t matter at that point if they are good on a leash or not. Panic makes them do crazy things, and before you know it, they slipped a collar, and ran off. If you really want to take your dogs along, make sure their collars are snug, the leash is sturdy, add a safety light, and make sure all of your animals are wearing current identification tags just to be on the safe side.
So, going along with the panic we were talking about in the first point, it’s a good idea to give your dogs a safe space to be when trick-or-treating starts. There will be a lot of weird costumes, and a lot of open doors, especially if you are having a halloween party at home! Making a dog proofed room, or crating your dogs where there isn’t going to be a lot of traffic is a good idea, and will keep them contained so they can’t slip through open doorways. I have young kids, so we tend to do our trick or treating before it’s too dark outside. I feed the dogs dinner, put them out to play (while I’m home to watch them) for an hour or so, and when we are ready to head off, we bring them inside, crate them, and shut the window and drop the blinds. That way no one bothers the dogs. If someone goes in and out of the house, I know that they are well secured in their crates, and no one will be slipping through cracked doorways.
Whooo is at the Door?
If you have a dog that likes to freak out when the doorbell rings, sit where you can see the kids coming up to the door. You can leave a note on the door, or over the doorbell so they have to knock. If knocking causes an issue then sitting where you can see the kids would probably be best option. Then you can beat them to the front door each time, and it will eliminate the door issue on a day where it will just continue to happen over and over again for hours. If it’s something you just don’t want to chance, turn off your front porch lights, and shut the blinds. When I’m out with my kids, we do NOT knock on the doors of homes that are dark inside, with no porch light on. We leave the lights off if we aren’t home, and cover the doorbell. When we get back to hand out candy, I open my front door (I have a glass screen door I keep shut) and sit where I can see the kids as they come up to the house.
All Those Treats!
So now your home dumping out the giant bags of candy all over your living room floor…as a parent, you dig through each piece making sure everything looks good before your kiddos start their week long sugar high. Be aware of how harmful candy AND wrappers can be to dogs. Granted, one piece may not harm someone that isn’t allergic to the ingredients, but as I’ve said time and time again…why chance it?! Put the candy where the dog can’t get to it. In a cupboard, on top of the fridge, it doesn’t matter really as long as it’s where they can’t get to it, and make sure everyone throws away their wrappers! The perks of hiding the candy as a Mama is being able to control the above mentioned crazy sugar fiending! I mean, it doesn’t stay hidden for long…my kids can smell sugar…
This is one of the most important things I worry about to be honest. I am particular about what I do with my animals on Halloween for a few reasons, but one of the biggest is how many animals go missing the week of Halloween. I don’t want to go into any detail about why people take them, I’m sure we all know it doesn’t generally end well. Don’t leave your pets outside unattended, it’s super easy for someone to take off with your animals, and it’s just better not to chance it! If you have to take them out to potty when the evening festivities have started, make sure they are on leash, or check your gates first and accompany them out, let them do their business, then bring them back in and to their safe space. Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of properly labeled dog tags!!! I crate all of my dogs downstairs, I shut the blinds, and make sure they all potty before it gets dark. I have to take my dogs about 3-4’ between my side door and my back yard, so we leash or walk them one at a time hand in collar into the back yard for their final potty break of the night. We don’t have anyone running loose until we are completely in for the night and lock all the doors!
Sometimes these lists seem like they are over cautionary, but it’s always better to play it safe! Tags with correct info will ensure your dog have a better chance to get home if they happen to get away. I drag the dogs to all of the daytime functions I can, and the kids love it! We recently took my service puppy to the pumpkin patch, and Wheeler Farm this week, and it was so great! But I always check collars, leashes, and make sure I’m in a situation that I will be able to calm and handle my dogs. I’m also a pretty paranoid Mama, so watching the kids super close is important to me, it’s hard to be as hyper vigilant as I’d like to be if my attention is split that many ways. So go out, enjoy this AWESOME holiday with your entire pack, and just be safe! Happy Howl-O-Weening!!!