Hosting canine guests over Halloween weekend? This time of ghosts and ghouls can cause anxiety leading to problem behaviors, especially for pets that are just settling in with a new sitter. Follow these five tips to make sure that your stay is a treat, visiting dogs don’t get away with any tricks, and most importantly, fun doesn’t turn to real fear!
1. Take extra precautions when opening your door to trick-or-treaters.
The distraction of kids in cute costumes gives anxious dogs the perfect chance to bolt out the door. So keep baby gates or other secure barriers between canine guests and the front door. Dogs can also react to the constant disruption by barking or even displaying aggression. Be prepared to minimize their stress by keeping them happily distracted in another room, away from the front door. Remember: It’s never safe to leave a guest pet unattended in your fenced yard, and this is especially true on Halloween night!
2. Make sure candy and other toxic foods stay safely out of reach.
Chocolate and raisins are toxic to most dogs—but oh so tempting! Whether you’re handing out the treats, or your own children have a bag of Halloween booty, make sure it’s kept where a clever and motivated dog can’t get to it. A closed cabinet out of reach is best. And if you’re hosting a party, be sure to keep the “eyeballs” (also known as peeled grapes), brownies, and other goodies away from pets who will no doubt take advantage of the happy chaos to try and help themselves. Remember: Even savory foods, such as onions, avocado, and chicken (with bones), can be hazardous!
To learn more about what dogs shouldn’t ingest, read our most-shared blog post, True Story: My Dog Ate Chocolate. Here’s What Happened Next.
3. Be cautious with indoor and outdoor decorations.
Wagging tails can knock over candles. Plastic skeletons can become chew toys. Carved pumpkins can be tempting snacks. When hosting dogs over Halloween, be aware of seasonal decorations in your home and yard to prevent them being put to unintended uses—or eaten!
4. Walk dogs during the day, especially on Halloween.
Gangs of noisy kids in costumes, flickering jack-o-lanterns, and spooky decorations can all make a dog more likely to feel threatened, leading either to aggression or the urge to get away. Time walks during daylight hours, and be doubly sure to follow your best practices of exercising guests with harnesses and fixed-length leads. If you have multiple dogs in your care, walk one or two at a time so that you can maintain control in the event a dog panics or becomes aggressive.
5. If a dog guest does escape your care, call Rover Support immediately
All the strange sights and lights of Halloween can be alarming to a dog that is already anxious, making them harder to find and more likely to keep running. When you call Rover, you get advice on the best techniques for quickly recovering your runaway, and also the assistance of our partner organizations that are experts in dog safety. We’re here 24/7 at 888-727-1140.
For more tips on avoiding the sitter nightmare of a lost dog at any time of year, read our helpful blog post, Lost Dogs: Avoiding a Sitter Nightmare.