by Andrea Mykrantz, CVT

When I was a kid (a “kid” all the way up to age 14) I looked forward to Trick or Treat more than any other holiday all year long. I loved to dress up and assume another persona and of course go door to door ringing doorbells and accepting candy from strangers. Now that I am an adult I still love dressing up for Halloween but I really don’t care for Trick or Treat anymore. Why, might you ask? Well, I don’t have any kids, I have three dachshunds instead. Lets try looking at Trick or Treat from a dog’s perspective:

A.) Dogs can’t eat candy, some candy can even be potentially toxic (chocolate) but any large quantity is bound to cause stomach upset. B.) Some dogs don’t like kids – at all – ever. It’s not because the kids are bad, it’s simply because some dogs have never been around kids and they’re not used to their loud, excited sounds and their quick movements. Additionally, kids who love dogs tend to want to run up to any dog, throw their arms around the dog’s neck and get right in their face to get doggy kisses. This behavior alone can sometimes put even the most laid back dogs over the edge. C.) Next, add a costume to an already “scary” kid (or adult) and suddenly that person has become the most evil being on earth! Our dogs study our body language and general movements to determine our moods and intentions. When you cover up the things dogs rely on to determine if we are “safe” to be around, our dogs form this singular thought – that’s not normal, I need you to STAY AWAY!!!! Masks don’t show emotion, bulky costumes make us move differently than we would normally, and of course any accessories that go with a costume could potentially be a dog destroying device! D.) The doorbell. Ask anyone who owns a dog and they will likely tell you that whenever the doorbell rings their dog becomes unglued! Even doorbells on TV can send some dogs into a frenzy. The doorbell is an announcement that something exciting is about to happen and on Trick or Treat the doorbell rings and rings and rings and rings….. you get the point.

So what can we do to help our furry friends make it through this night of doggy terrors? Here are some suggestions:

1. Take your dog for a nice long walk or play a favorite game with him well before the festivities begin. This way he should be ready to relax.

2. Keep your dog in his kennel away from the hub of activity. If your dog doesn’t use a kennel, simply make sure he’s in a room he’s comfortable in away from the festivities. Make sure that any view to the outside is obstructed by closing the drapes or taping some cardboard or newspaper to the windows.

3. Give your dog something that he’s used to to keep him occupied such as a frozen Kong.

4. Leave the TV on or play some music for your dog to cover the noises that are going on in the other room. My favorite music for dogs is “Through a Dog’s Ear”, acoustically arranged to help calm your dog. Check it out here

5. If your dog is especially sensitive to the doorbell, it would be a good idea for you to stay outside so the kids don’t have the opportunity to ring it over and over.

6. Make sure your dog is identifiable, he should be wearing his collar and current ID tags, a microchip or tattoo. This way if he does happen to escape he will be able to find his way back to you.

BFVH pumpkin Powell, Ohio animal hospital and veterinary clinic

Hopefully these tips will help you and your dog have a safe any happy Halloween!