October 15, 2014 12:50 am
Keeping your pet away from candy and other Halloween treats is especially important because so many favorites include chocolate, which is potentially toxic for dogs. It's also an ideal time to practice obedience commands with your four-legged friends, as crowds of unfamiliar people, costumes and lots of open doors can create temptations too hard to resist.
To include your furry family members while still keeping them safe during the fun, follow these guidelines.
- Before hitting the streets, make sure your dog is socialized around kids, adults and other animals.
- Bring water and treats to reward your dog for good behavior and reduce the desire to go for kids' candy.
- Increase nighttime visibility with LED leashes, collars or harnesses.
- Before guests arrive, practice "leave it" or a similar command. This is useful to help pets avoid candy or food they might encounter on the ground. Trainers can help you get it down right.
- Establish a rule that guests don't feed the dog candy or human food. A new interactive toy or long-lasting rawhide may keep your pup busy and out of temptation's way. Many ingredients commonly found in Halloween candy can be harmful to your pet. For example, xylitol, found in gum and candy can cause dangerously low blood sugar or liver disease in dogs. Chocolate can create a range of symptoms, from vomiting to abnormal heart rhythm to death. Even snacks that are healthy for humans, such as raisins, can cause a toxic reaction.
- Prevent your dog from running out an open door by working on a "stay" command. Ask your dog to sit, and praise him when he obeys. While your dog is sitting, say "stay" and place your hand flat with your palm facing the dog. Wait 2-3 seconds then give your dog a treat. You can increase the time he stays by a couple of seconds every three repetitions, working up to 30 seconds.
- If you aren't confident about your dog's abilities, keep him on a leash while the doorbell is ringing.
- A costume should never constrain or bother your pet. If your pet isn't comfortable, try a strap-on costume that attaches loosely with snaps or around the pet.
- Once a costume fits properly, make sure your pet won't trip on anything like a cape or ribbon. Check for little parts within chewing distance and keep identification tags on collars.
- Throughout the evening, watch your pet and make adjustments as needed. You may need to cut or remove portions of the costume to increase a pet's comfort. The most important part of the evening is your pet's safety.
Published with permission from RISMedia.