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How not to have a scary Halloween: Protect against dog bites

Is there anyone who doesn't have a great memory of Halloween? Whether it's fall parties that included dunking-for-apples, or the school parade where you won first place, Halloween is a sacrosanct children's holiday second only to Christmas.

When the dusk rolls in and the doorbell starts buzzing, can you be sure you've done everything to prepare for a memorable, and safe, holiday? If you're a dog owner, take these tips to heart to avoid haunting legal troubles:

Let your dog be a dog: We know they are cute. Pet costumes can be hilarious and who hasn't watched a Facebook video of dog and owner dressed alike? But dogs prefer the coats they came with, and anything else can leave them feeling anxious and irritated. A stressed dog is more likely to react and that reaction may very well be a nip. Leave the costumes for the humans, and this year have your dog go as a dog.

Keep dogs indoors: Our home is our castle and our dogs love to protect it. If a dog is outside, even on a leash, it leaves him more vulnerable to the antics of a wandering Yoda or storm trooper. Your dog won't understand that Darth Vader is really just a kid in disguise and might decide to lunge. Make like Obi Wan Kenobi and keep your dog from going to the dark side. Tuck him safely indoors.

And what better than a quiet room? Even the mildest of dogs react to extra tension in a household. The coming and goings and frenetic energy of excited witches and warlocks can have your dog on high alert. Give your dog a Halloween treat and find a quiet room for him to spend the evening. Supply him with chew-toys and soothing sounds to keep both of you happy and healthy.

Dogs are truly our best friends. And they look to us to guide them. Put your best foot forward and you can have a bite-free holiday. From dogs, that is. We can't help with vampires.

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