By Tonya Wilhelm
Halloween can be a fun time for the entire family, including the dog.
That is, of course if your dog is well socialized and confident in unusual situations. If not, Halloween can be a terribly scary time in a dog’s life.
If this sounds like your dog, take a minute to think about Halloween from his point of view with the loud, screaming children, scary costumes, strangers at your house, people walking your front yard, the doorbell ringing non-stop, etc., etc.
This might be a good time for one of the adults in the household to hang out in the back bedroom with Fido, maybe put on some calming music and let him play with a few safe chew toys.
Unfortunately, for some families, the best way to have a dog-friendly Halloween might just be to turn off the front light or leave a bowl of treats on the porch so the trick-or-treaters to help themselves.
If you have a dog who enjoys fun and adventures, here are some fun ideas you may want to put into play this October so you can enjoy a dog-friendly Halloween.
* Invite Party-Goers Halloween is always more fun with a handful of good friends to help you celebrate it. Invite your friends that also have social dogs, let them know Fido is invited to join in the dog-friendly Halloween festivities. Make sure you invite them in plenty of time so they have time to either make or buy, a great costume for their dog. Be sure the invitation is clear that this is a family friendly event and the whole family, including their pets, are invited to join in! If they feel uncomfortable bringing their dog, or their dog is not family-friendly, reassure them that they can still attend without their dog and join in on the festivities.
* Prizes And Party Gifts Everybody likes to go home with a party gift. This can be as simple as a few assorted fun dog treat recipes on index cards, a small goodie bag of healthy dog treats, or even fun dog toys. You may even consider contacting your local pet store or other businesses for local donations and coupons. Don’t forget to have a few different gifts available to give out as prizes to the game winners!
* Party Food We all love to eat and anyone with a dog knows that food tends to get dropped, or handed over, so our favorite canine is able to indulge. Because this is bound to happen, especially if kids are involved, I suggest that you serve dog-friendly food items. If you have a copy of What’s For Dinner, Dexter? you will see a large list of foods that are safe and even healthy for our dogs. You can also cut up fresh fruits and vegetables like carrots, celery, cauliflower, pineapples, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe and sweet potato fries. For a special treat, try setting out a bowl of organic, raw almond butter for dipping. If your guest are meat eaters, chicken breast or mini hamburgers are easy to prepare so a perfect food choice to serve at a party. The dogs should not eat the bun, but the cooked meat is healthy for them. Foods to avoid include grapes,raisins, fat, chocolate, pits, seeds, rhubarb, and onions. Make sure to place the garbage cans up high if possible, this will discourage dogs from rummaging through them when no one is looking.
* Decorations Decorating your dog Halloween party is a must if you really want to set the theme. Luckily Halloween is known for bones, so keeping the party using the doggie theme is pretty easy. If you are using carved pumpkins, insert colored glow sticks, not candles. You may want to consider placing the jack-o-lanterns up high, to discourage any unwanted dog urination.
* Wearing Costumes This includes the humans too, not just the dogs. Think of a theme that you and your dog, and maybe your family, can all do together. Make sure the costume fits your dog properly and that he has full-range of motion. Remember, you want this to be an enjoyable event and not something your dog finds torturous. Fido should be able to move around, see clearly, and be comfortable, but not all dogs appreciate costumes, so please honor your dog’s wishes. If this is the case, think of characters that had a dog in the theme, then allow your dog to be “the dog” with you being the other character. An example of this would be Dorothy and Toto, or Elroy and Astro, you get the picture.
* Group Parade Taking your dressed up dogs down your subdivision sidewalk can be a fun way to start your dog Halloween party. The dogs will be able to get to know each other a little bit while getting some exercise and also offers an opportunity for them to relieve themselves. Not to mention, a dog parade is a great way to break the ice with the human guests. Note, I highly suggest that they are all leashed for their own safety.
* Bobbing For Apples Now that the dog-themed Halloween party is rolling, it’s time for some dog-friendly games. Bobbing for apple slices is a fun and healthy game for dogs. Cut up approximately 4-5 apples removing their skins, cores, and seeds, then place them into a shallow bucket. Make sure the bucket is low enough for the smallest guest to easily dunk his head into the bucket to retrieve an apple piece. Take turns so that you don’t have too many dogs in the bucket at the same time. If you have a teacup breed next to a Great Dane, you might want to consider two buckets to accompany the different sizes.
Best Trick This is a great way to incorporate any guests who did not bring a dog, assign them to be the judges and have them pick the dog with the best trick. If you have a lot of dog guests, you can pick various categories to allow more than one winner and give out awards for first, second, and third place prizes.
* Best Costume This category can really be endless and a lot of fun. Think of unique categories like, best pair, most unusual theme, most colorful, most elaborate, etc. You can have your guests ham it up by walking a red carpet during the competition, encourage the other guest to cheer everyone on. If you have a photographer, make sure there is a station at the end of the walkway for a photo opportunity.
* Event Photographer This would be a great way to memorialize your dog-themed Halloween party. You can either hire a professional, an amateur, or just a friend, to take action shots at the event. Photos can be uploaded to a free blog, or even sent into your local newspaper! Most importantly, don’t forget to enclose a hard copy of the families picture when you send out their thank you notes.
* Give Back It is always a wonderful addition to any event if you can use it to give back to a local charity. Maybe in your invitations you can recommend a small cover charge that will be donated to your charity of choice. Another idea is to invite the charity to the event for a 10-minute introduction of their cause. Giving always makes people feel good and can boost moral so it’s a win-win for both people and pets.
Don’t delay! Start organizing the best dog Halloween party in town! I am sure you will have a spooktacular time.
Tonya Wilhelm has been voted on of the Top 10 Dog Trainers in the United States. You can find out more about Tonya at GlobalDogTraining.Com or by visiting her social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest or youtube.