Don't let Halloween turn your pet into a scaredy-cat!
Halloween can be fun instead of frightening for your pet if you prepare accordingly. Here's how to keep your pet safe and happy on the scariest night of the year.
Practice with Props
Many pets are easily spooked by new and unusual things. Let them examine Halloween decorations safely before the big night so they get accustomed to them at their own pace. Remember not to put lit candles where pets can reach them, and that includes the one inside the Jack-o'-lantern.
People in costumes can also freak out your dog, so spend time playing with different props to condition them not to be nervous. Work with big hats, umbrellas, wigs and other items that might set your dog off, and praise her if she stays calm when you are in disguise.
Dealing with Doorbells
Does your dog go into a frenzy whenever the doorbell rings? Plan a little training session to help calm your pet in preparation for a busy evening of visitors. Have a family member stand outside and ring the bell. Practice making your dog sit quietly while you answer it. When he does, reward him with a treat. When he barks, close the door and try again. And again! Eventually he will learn that it's in his best interest to sit quietly rather than bark up a storm.
Guardian at the Gate
Animals are naturally curious. However, you don't want your animal to bolt through the open door, and you don't want to scare off the young trick-or-treaters with a dog that likes to get up close and personal. A great way to let both your pet and visitors enjoy each other is to install a tension-mounted baby gate in your front doorway. That way, both kids and pets can see each other without touching, and you can easily hand out treats without worrying your dog will run out of the house.
Of course your pet looks cute in a costume! By all means, get the adorable picture so you can post it on social media, but then remove the costume if you aren't going to be constantly supervising your pet all night. Animals can ingest pieces of it or get entangled in it easily, especially if the costume inhibits their view or movement.
Out of Harm's Way
If your pet is just too shy or nervous to successfully navigate the bedlam of Halloween, then don't force it. Animals that are scared can have unpredictable behaviour, and it may be best to let them settle down by themselves. Provide them with a toy and a treat and let them skip the festivities.
And, of course, be sure to keep your kids' haul of candy and chocolate out of your pet's reach; a trip to the emergency clinic is no one's idea of a happy Halloween!
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