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Halloween is one of the most celebrated family holidays in the United States, so it’s important to make sure everyone gets a chance to be in on the fun. From joining the family out trick-or-treating to dressing up in costume, dogs also enjoy the social fun of Halloween.
However, since they don’t understand the holiday the way we do, it can also be a little confusing— and sometimes even stressful for them. For those of us who think of our four-legged friends as members of the family, we want to do everything we can to help them have a great and safe experience. Thinking of taking Fido out on All Hallow’s Eve? Here are a few ways to keep them calm and comfortable, and include them in the fun and games.
Keep the Costume Simple
It’s only natural to want to involve your dog in the most exciting Halloween tradition: dressing up in a costume. That begs the question, “What should I dress my dog up as and will he enjoy wearing it?” Truth be told, our dogs do a lot of things they aren’t super into, mostly because they can tell we are (take hugs, for example). Only you know your dog’s temperament to know what kind of clothing he would be comfortable in. If you’re the kind of dog owner who has sweaters for Fido in the winter and jerseys on game day, your dog will likely be okay with a more elaborate costume. If you rarely dress your dog in clothes or outfits, a Halloween costume might make them feel nervous or anxious.
Prep for Night Walking
Most families don’t walk their dogs that often at night, so it’s important that you get both your pup and your family ready. Remember, this isn’t just walking on any old night — this is walking on a night where the streets will be filled with ghouls, ghosts, and goblins (not to mention lost candy bars on the sidewalk). Protecting your dog means giving them direction so they feel like they can trust you in the chaos. Grab a reflective dog leash, harness, or collar so your dog can be seen by pedestrians, cars, and bike riders. If you don’t want to purchase a new collar, you can add blinking lights to their current one. Limit the responsibilities of the person walking your dog so they can really focus on keeping your pup safe.
Join the Celebration
If you’re taking your dog to a Halloween party, first make sure it is okay with the hosts that you come with a canine. Even if your friend usually lets you come over with your dog, a party might be a different situation. With the streets more full during Halloween, it’s important that your dog sits in the back seat and doesn’t distract you while driving. If you’re attending a costume party, remember that your dog may feel confused or even scared. Certain breeds of dogs, and often rescues who have experienced trauma, are shy around men, strangers, and children, so be sure to work on their confidence before taking them out to a spirited party.
From restaurants to festivals, dogs are more welcome in previously people-only places than ever before. Chances are, your city, town, or community has some dog-specific Halloween events that would be fun and exciting for a social, well-mannered pup. From celebrations with dog costume contests to 5k fun runs where your dogs can dash or dawdle, doing a little research in your town and prep with your family can reduce the stress and maximize the fun.
Guest Blogger: Penny Martin – firstname.lastname@example.org