Last week I took two of our dogs to our local Veterinarian Hospital in Dahlonega for their annual shots.  Since it is the end of October, everyone is getting ready for the Halloween festivities and many of the Vet Clinics are having Dog Costume Contests in the next few days.

Since nobody wants to have dogs go “crazy” in their Vet Hospitals with a bunch of other dogs, many of the Hospital Techs asked me for advice on making sure that their event would not cause their clients’ dogs to go crazy.

I explained that dogs, like me, are creatures of habit.  They need to be socialized with any new activity to assure them that they are still safe and secure.  If we look at the possible “new things” a Halloween Costume Contest in the Vet Hospital could include, it might be:

  • Wearing a strange costume
  • In a strange, public place
  • Around a lot of other dogs
  • New noises and smells
  • Distractions such as other people giving food or toys to their dogs
  • etc.

If any of their clients’ dogs aren’t used to the new situations mentioned above, it is important that they provide the appropriate precautions and information to their clients to make sure everything will be OK.  I suggested a few things they might communicate to the Halloween dog costume participants:

  • Make sure that the client’s dog is comfortable in wearing their costume.  Put it on and off him for at least a week before the contest.  Let him wear it as your feed him.  Take him for a walk in the costume.
  • If possible, let their dog see other dogs (or people) in Halloween costumes. By definition, a Halloween costume makes you look very different than you usually look. This could scare and frighten their dog. If they become used to “strange things”, they will have less of a tendency to react to them at the contest.
  • Make sure that they have had a good “play session” before they bring their dog to the contest. If their dog’s adrenaline is already drained through a good game of fetch, they will make more docile, well-behaved participants.
  • If possible, have their clients visit the Hospital one or two times before the contest.  This will allow the dogs to become accustomed to the sights and smells of the area.  Even they have been there in the past, there are now Halloween decorations that weren’t there before.
  • When the clients and their dogs arrive for the contest, have them walk around outside for a few minutes.  This allows the dogs to acclimate to the area one more time.
  • Have the dogs enter the area one at a time (of course on a leash).  Have them sit slightly removed from the rest of the dogs until they have become comfortable and are showing no signs of fear or aggression.
  • Make sure that their clients are always bringing their dogs’ focus back to them.  This will constantly reassure the dogs that they are safe and secure.
  • When they have your “Pet Costume Parade”, make sure that their clients separate themselves (and their dogs) by six to eight feet (farther for really big dogs). If anything does happen, this gives everyone time to react and keep things safe.

Halloween Costume Contests are just a natural event for this time of year. With the introduction of Social Media, dressing our pets in costumes is becoming increasingly popular. As we do this and take them into the public, we want to make sure that they are OK with it. If you are going to a Halloween Costume event with your dog, please follow the suggestions we have described above.

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Dahlonega Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dahlonega Georgia.