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Help Your Dog Love Halloween

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'Tis the season for pumpkin carving, apple cider, the smell of leaves, and all things spooky.

Fall brings a magic along with it, doesn't it? And nothing says “fall” quite like October and Halloween. Although in Alaska Halloween means winter!

Despite all the fun of Halloween it is one of the most dangerous days of the year for dogs. The new experiences also bring new ways that your dog can be put in harm's way. Okay, so we know to keep our dogs away from chocolate…but does that mean that they can't get a treat too? No way! Check out the links at the end of the article for homemade dog treat recipes.

Here are 10 tips to help your dog, and you enjoy Halloween.

1. Don't leave your dog outside. Even if you have a fenced yard, bring your dog inside where it is safe. If your dog is usually kept outside, bring him in a few times before the big night to get him used to being indoors. Your dog may be used to strangers, but so many little ghouls and goblins running about may be too much. Remember also that it is a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there will be no shortage of strangers.

2. Keep your dog restrained. If your dog is timid or scared, or if he tends to love people a little too much, it is best to put him in a separate room away from the front door to limit his excitability, aggression, and chance of running outside and becoming lost.

3. Reassure your dog. The best thing you can do for your dog when he is feeling unsettled by Halloween activities is to act as you normally would. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him an unusual amount of attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that because you are acting differently, there must be something to worry about.

4. Have your dog get used to costumes. Your dog may see his family members as strangers once they don their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to scent the costumes. If your costume has a mask, keep the mask off when you are with your dog because dogs can become confused when they can't see our faces.

5. Check your dog's ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog's collar-just in case.

6. Keep candy away from your dog. Many candies-especially chocolate-are toxic to dogs. The severity of the toxicity depends greatly on factors such as breed, age, size, and how much candy was ingested. Problems may range from a mild upset tummy to vomiting and diarrhea, or even death. If you have any concerns at all, consult with a veterinarian immediately. If you want to keep your dog safe, make certain that sweets, including their wrappers, are kept well away from your dog.

7. Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Excited or agitated dogs can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Be sure those items are away from your dog's reach, or consider a battery-powered candle that does not burn.

8. Think twice about dressing your dog in a costume. While some dogs might enjoy being dressed up, many don't. Experiment first to see if your dog likes being in a costume. If so, fine-he'll most likely enjoy himself and the extra attention it brings. However, if he shows any resistance, don't do it. Dogs feel enough stress around Halloween without also having to endure the discomfort and peculiarity of wearing a strange costume.

9. Be prepared. If you take your dog with you while trick-or-treating, be prepared at all times. Do not let your dog approach the door of a house, and stay clear of possible gags or gangs of goblins who will gather at the door. Dogs do not understand that the person jumping out at you will not hurt you; they often think they can only help you by acting aggressively. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner's consent. Also, Halloween in Alaska can be cold and dark. If you bring your dog with you make sure she will be warm enough to withstand the elements. Consider dog booties for the feet to protect from ice and snow. And, watch out for Moose!

10. Have fun but think of your dog's safety. Finally, if you want your dog to be included in Halloween festivities, think about his safety much as you would the safety of a small child. Your dog does not understand Halloween, so he needs you to provide the guidance and safety that you always do.

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