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Halloween can be a fun time for kids, but for our four-legged companions this may be a frightening time for them. Various costumes, strangers, and scary sounds can cause confusion in pets. There are many activities in the Tampa Bay area on Halloween; here are some tips to keep your household pets safe during the night brought to you by Bark Busters.

Bring your dog indoors. Even if you have a fenced yard, bring your dog inside where he cannot be harmed or overwhelmed by the little ghouls and goblins. If he is an outside dog, bring him in a few times before the big night to get him comfortable with being indoors. Remember, it is a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there will be plenty of strangers.

Keep your dog restrained. If your dog is timid or scared, or he tends to love people a little too much, put him in a separate room away from the front door. This will limit his excitement, aggression, or chance or running outside and getting lost or injured.

Reassure your dog. If your dog seems to feel unsettled by Halloween activities, just act as normally as possible. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him extra attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that there must be something to worry about.

Have your dog get used to costumes. Your dog may regard his family members as strangers once they have on their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to scent the costumes. Keep masks off while your dog is around.

Check your dog's ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog's collar - just in case.

Keep candy away from your dog. Many candies - especially those containing chocolate or xylitol, an artificial sweetener - are toxic to dogs. Problems can range from mild upset tummy to vomiting and diarrhea, or even death. For your dog's safety, be sure to keep all sweets and their wrappers well away from them.

Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Agitated or excited dogs (and their swinging tails) can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Keep such items out of dog's reach, or consider using a battery-powered candle that does not burn.

Think twice about dressing your dog in costumes. While some dogs do enjoy being dressed up many don't. Experiment first to see if your dog likes being in a costume. If he shows any resistance, don't do it. Tie a bandanna around his neck and he'll be happier and safer.

Consider carefully and be prepared. Think carefully about taking your dog with you on trick-or-treating rounds. You may unintentionally instill a new fear of strangers in him, creating a wariness that could last long past the holiday. If you do take your dog, keep a firm  grip on his leash. Dogs do not understand that the person jumping out at you will not hurt you; they often think they can only help you be acting aggressively. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner's consent.

From more tips from Bark Busters Home Dog Training visit www.barkbusters.com/tips.

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