We made it through the fourth of July—all the noisy days before and the days after when random cherry bombs still echoed through the neighborhood. There was an early hint of Fall in September when pumpkins and leaf wreaths on doors started appearing. But there was nothing to prepare us for the giant skeleton looming on the lawn where grass and flowers were before. This was not any human-size skeleton. This was a giant 7-ft skeleton with a whole range of scary vocal and musical sounds emanating from it and the other creatures surrounding it.
The display was disconcerting but I felt nothing like the absolute panic my dog experienced in her first encounter with this horrifying multi-media display. Like Dr. Frankenstein, the “creators” of the monster, my neighbors stood on the sidewalk admiring their masterpiece. I mumbled to them how great this is then silently vowed never to turn this corner until Nov. 1 or later. Most of the articles you read about pets and Halloween discuss calming the animals in your house or managing trick or treaters. Dealing with a crazy outdoor display while walking your dog just isn’t something most of us are prepared for.
What can you do when the scary big day itself arrives and rowdy little people swarm the streets in crazy costumes? The tried and true cautionary measures are listed below, but “early intervention” has its proponents. Some pet owners bring their lawn chairs out to the sidewalk to intercept the little visitors before they ring the doorbell. This lets the pets hang out inside undisturbed. Or if you have a porch or deck, that can be a good place to intercept visitors.
If the weather or camping on your sidewalk doesn’t work for you, pets can be stashed away inside in a “safe” room or crated with lots of treats or a frozen kong. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could put a baby gate in the doorway so pets can see the visitors—but that may be pushing it. Here’s are some other tips:
1. Keep your pets inside, especially during trick-or-treating hours. The noise and constant doorbell ringing can be stressful.
2. If you dress up your pet, make sure the costume is comfortable and doesn’t restrict movement or obstruct breathing or vision.
3. Keep candy and chocolates out of reach, as they can be toxic to pets. Xylitol, a common sugar substitute in gum and candy, can also be harmful.
4. Be mindful of decorations like candles and wires that can be hazardous if your pet gets curious.
5. Ensure your pet has current ID tags in case they escape in the chaos.
6. Provide a quiet, safe space for your pet to retreat to, or gate off a bedroom for them.
7. Some pets may be frightened by costumes, so keep them away from the door when giving out candy.
8. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, consider doing so for added security (All NGPR dogs are chipped).
With a few precautions in place, we hope everyone can stay safe and enjoy the day.
Dogs and Children