Did you know that the risk of dog bites increases on Halloween night, as compared to other nights by 25%? That equals to 1 in 4 dogs biting someone on or around the Halloween holiday. In my opinion, that is too high and the reason for this increase is the fault of the owners, not the dogs. In any situation an owner must first consider what may happen, anticipate what their dog’s reaction is going to be, be prepared to control the situation. In training class, things are done in a controlled environment and we can recreate the situation many times to desensitize a dog’s reaction. In the real world, you must be Alpha (leader) and be able to anticipate the worst.
Now, let’s not forget that this night follows “mischief night”, the night when young neighborhood children run onto their neighbor’s property, in the dark, toilet papering the trees and bushes, soaping windows and ringing doorbells. This night may be annoying for you but it is very alarming for your dog, the protector of the ‘castle’.
Then you follow this night up by taking Fido for a nice walk, on Halloween Night, something he hardly ever gets to do so he is extremely excited. Many dogs are frightened by the Halloween masks and now you add the equation of the dark streets being filled with people, running from house to house screaming “Trick or Treat” and you have a great recipe for a dog bite.
What should you do?
I advise my clients to keep their dogs at home, preferably crated so they do not feel they need to protect the house every 3 minutes when there is a knock at the door or the door bell rings. Give your dog a nice big bone to chew on, something new, or a Kong toy filled with peanut butter. Keep him in the crate but in the room with the television on so you can tune out the noise on the street.
Don’t take your dog trick or treating, you have more on your mind than training or watching your dog on this walk. This isn’t a walk for the dog; this is a walk with your children. If your dog is usually sedated for thunder or rain storms, this may be a night you want to sedate him also; no sense in your dog being upset the whole night while strangers come banging on your door demanding candy or else!
When you come home with lots of candy, be sure to keep the candy in a cabinet far out of Fido’s reach. Remember, chocolate can kill your dog. And if your dog doesn’t get into the chocolate, he can get into something that is going to make his or her stomach very upset for the next few days. Teach your children that they must be very aware and conscience of where they leave candy and candy wrappers. They too are responsible for the family pet’s welfare.
Even if you have the nicest dog on the block, keep him home for Halloween, accidents can happen, you don’t want it to happen to your dog. Happy Halloween!