It's that ghoulish time of year!   While most associate Halloween with festivities and fun, there are some precautions every responsible pet parent wants to take to ensure their pooch is safe and out of harm's way!  

Issue 1: Costumes – I know. I know. How do you NOT dress the Dachshund up as a hotdog? It's just too easy. As a trainer, I've seen moms and dads with bitten hands because, well, it wasn't so easy. It is true that some dogs will tolerate wearing coats, sweaters, booties and costumes. Others who have not been exposed on a frequent basis, or those with some handling issues (i.e. – don't touch my paws!) may be more resistant to getting dressed up. Err on the side of caution. Halloween is supposed to be fun afterall, and if your dog is stressed or miserable in his or her costume, well then, it's not so much fun!   If you opt to select a costume, be sure it's safe. Some pups like to nibble, and loose parts that dangle or those that can be swallowed are hazardous to your dog.  Make sure you dog can still wear his appropraite leash/collar and IDENTIFICATION when wearing his or her costume.

Solution: If your dog is less enthused about dressing up,  a cute bandana or festive collar is perfect. 

Issue 2:  Candy – It's well known that chocolate and dogs do not mix.  If your dog consumes chocolate, call your vet immediately.  He or she will likely want to know the amount consumed and will advise you on the appropriate course of action.  Sparkly, crackly oh-so-fun to play with candy wrappers can also pose a threat when consumed.  Lastly, xylitol, a sweetner used in some candies, is also posionous to our four legged family members.

Solution: To avoid treats from becoming tricks, always place all candy up high on shelves or in closed cabinets. If possible, avoid having Xylitol and chocolate in your home on this night when you are going to be a bit distracted on racing about.

Issue 3: Revolving door of trick or treaters – Halloween is not without a lot of hustle and bustle. Knocking at the door, a ringing doorbell, an opening and closing door, and a constant stream of strangers arriving to your home (dressed up no less and screaming "trick or treat!!") are all just part of the festive evening.   If your dog is reactive to strangers coming to your home, or the sounds of the door, he may feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the commotion.   The opening and closing door also poses a flight risk for nervous dogs or those who simply lack impulse control and want to race out and join in on the fun.

 Solution: Keep your pooch safely enclosed behind a closed door or crated during trick or treat hours. Give your dog an activity to pass the time, like a food stuffed toy (Kong, Molecuball, tricky treat ball).   Minimally, if your dog is not crated, be sure your dog is wearing a collar with idenitifcation, in the case he or she gets out the door!  If your dog is extremely reactive, stressed and fearful, honestly, turn off your lights, stick a bowl of apples on the porch (ha! Who wants apples!?)  and skip the festivities. Your priority is your pooch. He or she will be oh so grateful to not get such a fright on this chaotic night.

Now that we got all the safety stuff out there, enjoy the howlin' hoopla of Halloween!