Halloween is only a month away and if you love this time of year as much as I do, you’re already making plans. There are pumpkins to carve, costumes to make, parties to plan, and candy to buy. While you’re prepping for your All Hallow’s Eve fun, don’t forget the dog! It’s fun to include our pets in the celebration, but remember these tips to keep Fido safe:
1. Tricks (and treats) are for kids. Chocolate is a well-known offender (the toxic dosage varies from animal to animal, but it is overall A Bad Thing), but other sweets can cause tummy aches and vomiting. Candies containing xylitol are especially dangerous to our canine pals, this low calorie sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar that leads to seizures and even death. So keep your candy bowl out of reach and make sure none of your guests share their trick-or-treat haul with your pets. Candy wrappers can be a tempting snack for dogs (those of us with Labs know this), and they can cause choking and intestinal blockage, so make sure those aren’t left laying around, either.
2. Costumes are cute, but think them through. Who can resist a silly pooch in a costume? A DinoDog? A DevilDog? BatDog? Totally adorable. But are they comfortable for your dog? Keep in mind how the costume restricts movement and vision. A mask might be hard for your dog to see out of, and feel weird to them. Costumes that cover their paws can make walking treacherous, especially on hardwood floors. Is the costume tight, does it pinch or chafe anywhere? Are there small bits (sequins, googly eyes, buttons) that can be pulled off and swallowed? If you decide to dress your dog up, get them used to the costume before their big debut. Put the costume (or parts of it) on for gradually longer periods of time in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Reward your dog with praise and special treats when she’s wearing her duds, and take them off before she gets sick of them so that you’re ending on a positive note. If Buttercup decides that dressing up just isn’t her thing even after trying a few times, that’s okay. Everyone will think she’s plenty cute in her everyday wear.
3. Ding Dong Dash. If you’re passing out candy to the little ones, have a plan for where the dogs will be when you answer the door. It would be a disaster if Ginger barreled through the door and sent little vampires and cowgirls flying off the porch. Keep your dog in another room, behind a gate, or in her crate when you open the door to prevent her from making a break for it.
4. Party Animals. Hosting a Halloween party is a blast, and if your dog enjoys socializing it can be a fun night for him, too. If Chopper is more of a lone wolf, make him comfortable in another room with his blankie and a frozen Kong to keep him occupied while you play hostess. For dogs that haven’t quite mastered company manners, setting them up away from the party (in their crate or a dog-proofed room) is a good way to prevent your guests from getting their drinks spilled by Jumping Jack Flash, the bounciest dog in town. Having the dog in another room means that you can focus on your guests without worrying about counter surfing, door dashing, and general dog antics. Leave your dog a bowl of water, his Kong and something to chew on, and remember to give him a potty break.
5. Safe at Home. If you’re leaving Dusty at home while you and the kiddos canvass for candy, make the house safe and comfy for him. Inside the house is preferable to the yard, as pranksters sometimes use the holiday as an excuse to harass outside animals. Have a radio or TV playing softly to keep your pooch company and to muffle the sounds of revelers outside. Leave him a Kong or Nylabone to work on, and consider using Rescue Remedy, DAP, or Melatonin if your dog is sensitive to loud noises and unusual activity. If you chose to take your dog with you on the candy run, check that his collar fits correctly (martingale and buckle collars should be snug enough that only two fingers can fit underneath) and keep a tight hold on his leash. Keep an eye out for discarded candy or wrappers that your dog might pick up and eat. People in funny costumes and squealing, sugar-riddled kids can spook your dog, so if he’s not rock solid you might be best leaving him at home.
Enjoy your Halloween, eat lots of candy, and keep that dog safe!
Here is my journal entry from Sept 9, the third day that Molly was home:
“Molly’s first day alone while we were at work. I put a baby gate up in the stairwell to give the cats some peace and restrict Molly’s wandering a bit. The dogs have the living room, kitchen, dining room and bar to themselves. She did fine in the house yesterday for several hours while we worked on the fence, so I trusted her to have a bit of room. If she would have shown destructive tendencies I would have gated her in the bar or kitchen. I walked both dogs at 7 am (getting yanked down the sidewalk the whole time!) and the neighbor came over at 3 to give them a potty break (thanks, awesome neighbor!). Molly chewed a few big chunks off her Twist n’ Treat and tore the ear off of Sprocket’s stuffed chipmunk, but her destruction seems to be directed to dog toys, so I can’t complain too much. I do wish that she’d gotten more than one use out of the Twist n’ Treat though! Lesson learned, she can only have toys made for power chewers unless she’s supervised. I like to give the dogs their breakfast from a puzzle toy, so it will be a challenge to find tough toys that she can be alone with.
I bought her a Gentle Leader Head Collar on the way home from work (as well as a big rubber ball, which she loves) and although it took a few tries to get it fit correctly, she was very patient about letting me put it on. We took a short walk to get her used to it and she did well. She pawed and scratched at it a bit, and once or twice laid on the ground to rub her face along it, but she was easily prompted to keep walking (good girl!). I think she’ll be fine after a few more walks with it.
Tomorrow she goes to day care for the first time. Sprocket and I have obedience class (yes, even trainers go!) after work and it would be a long day alone. I also figure that Sprocket could use a day alone after 3 days of high energy crazypants Lab. Both dogs (and the hubby) are snoozing right now, I need to wake them up for dinner!”
Sprocket had this chipmunk for an entire year and it still looked brand new until Mol got her mouth on it!
She’s keeping her eyes on the cookie that my husband is teasing her with while I adjust the straps on the head collar. Some people have misconceptions about head collars. They’re not muzzles, and they’re not painful for the dog to wear.Fitted properly, they allow the dog to open her mouth completely, so she can pant, take treats, and drink. Most dogs do fine after getting used to them, and there are ways to create positive associations so that the dog enjoys wearing it (more on that in a later post!). They’re great tools for strong dogs that lunge and pull.
The next day’s entry, after a long day of play at daycare:
“Molly’s report card from daycare (thanks Auntie Angie and Auntie Jessica!) was all A’s. She played all day and was pooped when I picked her up at 7.
We played with her ball in the yard for about 10 mintues when we got home and now she’s really and truly tuckered out. She’s sleeping like a log right now. Bubble and Bark daycare, FTW!”
Sprocket had an even busier day, daycare in the morning and obedience class at night!
This is our second Saturday class. We have four dogs:
Miss Diesel, the happiest dog around,
BJ the Beagle, who is not as grumpy as he looks in his pictures,
The gorgeous Nani,
And of course, scrappy little Phoenix.
These dogs are so fun. Nani is behind the moveable wall (such a great invention, it comes in handy all the time) because she’s a bit reactive to other dogs. Her person does a superb job of getting Nani out of stressful situations, and once she’s behind the wall, Nani can focus and her whiz-kid side comes out. She learns super fast, and is a really happy, butt-wiggling boxer smoochie face.
Don’t you want to cover that face in kisses?
Diesel has been through the Fido Puppy class, so she knows the basics already. Tammy and I have to think of ways to make the cues tougher for her, to really get that brain working.
BJ is soooo food motivated, he will follow you for miles for a treat. I can’t believe how crabby he looks in these pictures, he’s actually a pretty mellow dog!
Know who’s not mellow? A little white scruffums I know.
He’s got all of that terrier spunk that I just love. Truly, I love bouncy dogs.
During class, Phoenix and Diesel were flirting with each other, so when we were done for the day we let them play for a few minutes. They wrestled around, then had a drink.
Saturdays are busy at Fido. We have two basic obedience classes in a row, which keeps us on our toes. This week we worked on Leave It, which I think is one of the most important cues that you can teach your dog. So helpful for calling them off of the cat, the sandwich you left unguarded, and disgusting things you’d rather they didn’t roll in.
At this point, the dogs are hip to the game, and know that there are treats to be had if they can figure out how to earn that click.
Boomer knows how to earn clicks, he’s a teeny tiny smartypants.
Louie knows how, too, but he’ll try mind control first.
Lacey is pretty scared in class, all of the activity is a bit much for her. We have her and her person sit behind a short, portable wall so that she can relax. Lacey’s making good progress, she mastered Sit in just a few minutes! Cute little fuzzy ears.
Loki is one smart dog. He gets a little distracted, but his person does a great job of getting his attention again using that powerful nose. A whiff of a tempting treat and Loki is happy to pay attention.