Mom said that I get to go trick-or-treating for Halloween this year! It will be so much more fun than obedience class, where you have to work for your treats. (Like I need a job.) Instead, I just stand there looking cute and people will give me treats. Is this a great holiday or what!?
I can’t wait to pick out my costume. Mom insisted on doing a little research to make sure things go well. (She's a nerd, bless her heart.) Anyhoo, we were lucky enough to speak with Kristen Collins, a super smart animal behaviorist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org). Here is her expert advice to make sure fur kids, ghouls and even humans have a howling good time on Halloween:
Watch for ghouls and goblins
“You never know what will be on the other side of the door,” Collins says. Since some kids are afraid of dogs, she suggests that Mom create a barrier at the entrance. “Just don’t open the door with the dog loose in the house because hats and masks are scary things.”
Even with social butterflies like myself, Collins recommends using a leash during Halloween meet-and-treat sessions. I can endure these rules for one day — just give me my treats!
Embrace those mischievous ways
Some folks consider pet costumes cruel and unusual punishment. As long as I have a fun costume and the treats start flowing, there's no problem here. Hopefully Mom can find a witch hat that can accommodate my rather sizable ears. Collins also has no problem with pet costumes. “Some dogs love the attention they get,” she says. “If you think your dog won’t enjoy that attention or you try [the costume] on and your pet looks miserable, don’t do it.”
Select creepy pet costumes with care
While most pet costumes are relatively safe, Collins says to watch for parts that your pet can chew off. “Make sure you are supervising in case they start to eat the costume,” she warns.
Practice makes perfect
Hats and masks can be scary for pets. Try a few dress rehearsals so your pooch isn’t horrified by people in ghoulish costumes. “Go get some masks, hats, costumes — something you don’t usually wear or things that look out of ordinary — and play with the dog,” Collins says. The same rule applies to the pet's costume. Treats help make the process go faster. In fact, treats make any process go faster in my house!
“Practice in advance, put on that hat or suit or whatever you dress your animal up in, freed cookies and then practice.”
Check out the ASPCA site for more Halloween safety tips. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars for these fun and pet-friendly events.
Oct. 16 — Holiday pictures: If you want pictures of your pet in costume, check out the next photo session from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Park Pet Supply. Vyvyan Hughes of VLH Studios will take appointments at firstname.lastname@example.org. The sitting fee is $10 and photos will be sold separately. For more details, stop by Park Pet Supply and say hello to Vyvyan for me!
Oct. 22 — Atlanta Bully Education rally: From noon to 5 p.m., dog trainer Victoria Stillwell will sign copies of her book, “It’s Me or the Dog,” at the fifth-annual Atlanta Bully Rally in Perkerson Park. This fun event features contests, a pit bull kissing booth and a free rabies vaccine clinic — all designed to help promote responsible ownership. For more information on this free event, visit AtlantaBullyrally.com.
Oct 22 — Walk N’ Wag Festival: Looks like I’m double booked. October isn’t complete without the Walk N’ Wag Fall Festival, from noon to 5 p.m. in Lenox Park. Along with a pet parade and costume contest, this festival includes an assortment of pet vendors, and even a hot chocolate bar. Ahimsa House is Georgia’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people and pets escape domestic violence together. For more information, visit AhimsaHouse.org.