Trick or Treat?
Holiday traditions and celebrations do not appeal to pets in the same way they do to human family, friends, and neighbors. With the Halloween holiday approaching this month, Laura Monaco Torelli, ClickerExpo and Karen Pryor Academy faculty member, generously shares her knowledge about what will and will not work for dogs at Halloween time. In a recent television interview, Laura shared the following tips for keeping pets safe and comfortable during any Halloween festivities.
· When it comes to costumes, only outfit your dog if s/he enjoys the activity. If your dog does agree to a costume, choose only lightweight and short costumes that allow free movements and do not impede sight or hearing. Aim for comfort over cuteness! Of course, use treats to associate the costume with a positive experience for your pet.
· Allow your dog space and quiet even when trick-or-treaters are expected. Setting up your pet away from the front door, perhaps with a tasty Kong toy/treat or with distracting background music, works well. Some families even disconnect the doorbell and simply watch for costumed children. That way, the dog of the house never realizes that scary, spooky, and excited visitors have been there.
· Be vigilant about Halloween decorations and sweets. Keep all candy and small, dangerous items out of your dog’s reach. A skeleton bone looks just like a chew toy to a dog, and ingesting chocolate could even be life-threatening for your pet.
· During holidays and always, take cues from a dog’s body language. A dog that runs away from a costume or exhibits behavior such as lip-licking, excessive barking, or even growling is trying to communicate irritation with the current environment.
Take the time before Halloween to anticipate what your dog will find fun and what will be off-putting. That way, everyone will have a Happy Halloween!