In our previous post we focused on a number of Halloween fears, including tainted candy, child abductions and pedestrian accidents. And while all of these are legitimate concerns, it's also important to realize dogs can pose a serious threat to trick-or-treating safety.
For dogs, Halloween night can be a particularly uncomfortable and frightening night. There are children dressed in costumes -- making them unrecognizable -- and people are outside being loud and walking up to their home. From a dog's perspective, this can be very confusing and can lead to dog bites.
For children and adults, dog bites can be particularly jarring physically and emotionally. There are the actual physical injuries, which can result in severe scarring, infection and disfigurement, but there is also the emotional trauma. This trauma can lead to a lifetime fear of dogs and other animals.
To try and prevent a dog bite, owners on Halloween are encouraged to make sure a dog is secured in another room or crate and cannot have access to the front door where trick-or-treaters are. During this time, now is a good time to give the dog a distraction, like a hollow chew toy and leaving on some music or a TV to block out the sounds of people coming and going.
Additionally, if the dog gets particularly wound-up from the sound of the doorbell, tonight is the night to disconnect the bell and watch for trick-or-treaters. The less frustrations the less a chance of an incident arising.
Parents should also educate their children. This means telling children to never approach a dog. Even if the child knows the dog, remember that the costume could make them unrecognizable and could startle the dog. When a dog is frightened, it is more likely to bite.
When trick-or-treating, if an owner opens the door and a dog can be seen, remember it is just fine for the child to say he or she does not want to go near the dog.
Lastly, if when out on Halloween night -- or really any night -- and an unknown dog approaches, the best thing to do is act like a tree and stay very still. This will let the dog hopefully just sniff and move on.