Helping furry friends enjoy Howl-o-ween

It’s All Hallows Eve, the night spirits roam the world causing all manner of mischief. In some places people will be cutting branches off Rowan trees, famed for repelling evil spirits, and hanging them in the windows. In most places there’ll be candle-filled pumpkins, bunches of excited children, scary whoops and groans made by lots of little ‘ghosts’, endless trick-or-treating and doorbells going off every five minutes. Some dogs love it, others find the whole thing a nightmare.


10 ways to keep your dog safe and happy at Halloween

If your dog doesn’t enjoy surprises, dislikes dressing up costumes, is frightened of strangers, loves sweets too much for their own good or hates all the noise, what can you do to make them comfortable and keep them safe? Here are some sensible tips.    

  1. Shut your dog in somewhere cosy and quiet so they don’t rush to the door every time it rings, scaring the kids and potentially scaring themselves silly at the same time!

  2. Keep your stock of sweets away from your dog so they’re not tempted to scoff them – dogs often love sweets but it’s sucha bad idea, really bad for their health and potentially toxic. Sweet wrappers are even worse so keep an eye open outdoors and indoors

  3. If your dog wants to meet the children arriving for trick-or-treat, keep them on a lead at first until they’ve got used to meeting throngs of noisy gremlins, wizards and spooks. If you’re at all unsure, or your dog seems worried or stressed, keep the lead on

  4. If you go for a walk after dark, reassure your dog if he or she gets agitated at the sight and sound of crowds of weirdly-dressed people milling about

  5. Take care around lanterns and pumpkins. Most dogs are sensible around fire but it’s better safe than sorry. The last thing you want is for your furry friend to eat some poor child’s lantern, set something on fire or get covered in candle wax

  6. If your dog is scared of your guests, put him or her somewhere safe and cosy until the party’s over and give them a few treats to reassure them everything’s OK 

  7. It has taken scientists a long time to catch up with dog owners, who already knew that dogs recognise and remember faces. So can many other mammals and birds, including rooks, pigeons and seagulls. But animals don’t always understand masks and can find dressing-up costumes threatening.  If you’re dressing up or your children are, let your dog watch everyone get ready so he or she will understand it’s you underneath. Give them plenty of praise and love, making a big thing of taking your mask on and off, playing peek-a-boo and turning it into a game

  8. Keep your Halloween decorations out of reach, high up, so they’re safe from curious doggy mouths

  9. Bear in mind that some people let fireworks off at Halloween. Prepare to take sensible action if it happens – I will be covering Bonfire Night in my next blog.

  10. Don’t dress your dog up if they show the slightest sign of discomfort, fear, reluctance or embarrassment. If they love dressing up, never leave them alone in costume – they can easily choke themselves on fabric or loose ties, especially when they’re over-excited and running about.

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Image source: August Norman