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It's Howl-o-ween time!

When it comes to Halloween, it’s fun to have all of the family involved and for many this includes including our four-legged friends in trick-o-treating and dressing up.

With Halloween plans changed this year with physical distancing and health and safety measures many of us will be staying at home instead of meeting to celebrate in person and knocking on doors hoping for treats and avoiding tricks

One question we ask ourselves around the holidays is how we can include our pet. While it’s great to include Fido in the festivities it’s equally important to monitor whether it’s safe to do so and whether Fido actually likes getting dressed up or not.

Our Delta-accredited trainer Tanya Bailey of Bails Paws shares some tips for all dog lovers and owners:

- Introduce the costume to your dog first by placing it on the ground so your dog can touch it and sniff it. Is your dog interested in the costume? Is the interest positive or does your dog look concerned?

- Place some treats on the costume and encourage them to walk around or onto it.

- If the costume needs to go over your dog’s head, draw their head through the opening by using treats just as you would a dog harness. Make sure there is enough room and use encouraging commands and voice.

- Dress your dog up in a costume only if there are no signs of distress or avoidance

- If your dog changes its mind or starts to feel uncomfortable (those costumes can make them hot) take the costume off immediately.

Most importantly, dress your dog up in a costume only if there are no signs of distress or avoidance – remember they are responding to their environment with real emotions. Some dogs just don’t want to dress up but would be happy to learn a trick for a delicious treat!

There are lots of other ways to involve you dog during the holidays:

1. Organise a safe park date with your dog’s best furry friend so they can run around together.

2. Use a festive dog lead or collar on your walks.

3. Hide your dog’s favourite treats in a snuffle mat or the backyard to encourage them to go ‘trick-or-treating’. We call this nose work and dogs love being challenged this way.

4. Teach your dog a new trick or spend time playing with their favourite toy.

5. Make some delicious (xylitol-free) peanut butter and pumpkin treats.

6. Watch a pet-themed Halloween movie with your family

7. Create a safe space for your dog to retreat to if they aren’t feeling particularly festive.

Don’t forget to check your local health authority for their safety measures during Halloween! Stay safe & spooky!

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