Pet Sitters International Offers Simple Tips to Ensure No “Scaredy Cats” or Dogs This Halloween

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Costume safety and comfort is essential so those on both ends of the leash enjoy the holiday.

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Safety and comfort are the first things to consider for those who plan to dress a pet in a Halloween costume.

Halloween continues to increase in popularity and an estimated 170 million Americans plan to celebrate the holiday this year according to the National Retail Federation. Pet Sitters International (PSI) recommends that pet owners take special care to ensure the safety of the four-legged family members during this “spooktacular” holiday.

For pets that are easily frightened or not used to being around a lot of people, especially children, Halloween can be a real nightmare, explained professional dog trainer, Teoti Anderson. Anderson is the owner of Pawsitive Results, a pet training school in Lexington, SC, and author of multiple books on pet training.

“Imagine a pet who thinks children are scary, then put those kids in costume and to the pet, they truly become monsters!” Anderson said. “If your pet is shy, timid or wary around people, make sure he or she is kept away from trick-or-treaters. You can put your pet in another room with some soothing music and a toy until the event is over.”

In regard to costumes, pet costumes are an increasingly popular item at Halloween and throughout the year. Of the 170 million Americans who will be celebrating Halloween, 15.1 percent plan to dress a pet in costume. While Fluffy or Fido may look cute as Cat Woman or Superman, Anderson encourages pet-owners to think carefully about the pros and cons before putting a pet into a costume.

“It can be fun to dress your pet up for Halloween, but it's not for every pet,” Anderson said. “We may think they're adorable, but if your pet is miserable then that cute photo opportunity is really not worth it. You want both ends of the leash to enjoy the holiday.”

Safety and comfort are the first things to consider for those who do plan to dress a pet in a Halloween costume. If the costume constricts movement, blocks vision or has multiple parts that could easily be chewed off, then it is not a good choice.

“Once you make sure a costume will fit comfortably, introduce it to your pet gradually—at least a week before you want him to wear it,” Anderson explained. “Use lots of treats to associate it as something fun. For example, if you have a costume that wraps around a pet that is fastened underneath his belly, first lay the costume across his back. Give him some treats and remove the costume. Repeat a few times until the pet is comfortable. Then put the costume on, fasten it, give him some treats and remove the costume. Do this in short stages so he can get used to it. Keep your sessions short. If you take this time to get your pet used to wearing his costume, he'll enjoy it much better and be less likely to find it frightening.”

PSI also recommends that outside pets be brought inside on Halloween night to avoid becoming victims of malicious tricksters who might try to frighten or harm animals. A neighborhood that is normally quiet but becomes busy and loud on Halloween night can also cause undue stress to outside pets.

Halloween treats are another danger for pets. While most pet-owners are aware that chocolate and other candies can be deadly if ingested by pets, younger trick-or-treaters or non-pet-owning guests may not know. Halloween party guests and other visitors should be reminded not to share chocolate with the dog, no matter how much he or she begs. Keep some pet-friendly treats on hand instead.

As the popularity of this holiday continues to grow, so do the many Halloween and fall themed decorating ideas. Pet owners should take special care to keep pets away from Jack-o-Lanterns with real candles inside and other Halloween décor that could cause harm if chewed on or ingested.

For more information about PSI or to locate a professional in-home pet care provider, please visit http://www.petsit.com/locate.

About Pet Sitters International
Founded by Patti Moran in 1994, Pet Sitters International (PSI) is the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters, representing more than 7,000 independent professional in-home pet-care businesses in the United States, Canada and abroad. PSI provides members with access to affordable bonding and liability insurance as well as educational resources that include a comprehensive Certification Program, Pet Sitter’s WORLD magazine, The Scoop e-news and PSI’s annual Quest for Excellence convention. For more information, visit http://www.petsit.com, home of the Official Pet Sitter Locator™ or sign up to receive The Scoop on Pet Care. Visit the PSIStoreOnline, the largest specialty retailer of products for pet sitters and pet-sitting business owners.

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