(Family Features) With its sweet, spooky treats and devilishly cute costumes, Halloween is a fun night for the whole family to spend together, including the family pet. When everyone is prepared for a safe evening, you're guaranteed to have an exciting and memorable time.
Here are some ways to help your pet stay safe, well-behaved and well-dressed during the Halloween festivities:
Whether you and your pet are at home passing out treats or walking around the neighborhood, make a few preparations to keep your pet safe on the big night.
- Walk safely: While it's always best for an adult to hold the leash, there are also accessories to help keep a pet visible on dark fall nights. Reflective items, such as the Dog-E-Glow collars and leashes with LED lights, will help keep your pet safe. Plus, they feature bones, skulls and Halloween plaid decorations, to keep your pet stylish.
- Stock pet-friendly treats: Establish rules so everyone is clear that candy and treats are harmful for pets. Stock up on safe, dog-friendly treats such as Blue Buffalo's Boo Bars or Greenie's Dental Chews. For more tips, visit your local PetSmart or www.PetSmart.com.
Reviewing a few commands and behaviors beforehand will keep the night fun and stress-free for the whole family.
- Create a calm environment: Think about your pet's past behavior when guests come to the door. Is he nervous? Does he bark? Depending on his temperament, it may be a good idea to put him in his crate or another quiet place away from the door. An interactive toy may help keep him busy and having fun.
- Practice basic commands: Practice the basic commands of "sit," "stay" and "leave it," so he's ready for the ringing doorbell or knows to ignore a dropped piece of candy. To teach "leave it," you'll need a large biscuit and small, strong-smelling treats. Put your dog on a leash and place the large biscuit out of reach. Allow him to attempt to get it, but do not allow him to actually put it in his mouth. When he stops trying to get it and turns away, tell him, "Good dog," and give him a small treat.
When everyone in the family is getting in costume, don't leave your pet out of the fun. Dara Foster, a pet fashion stylist, author and TV personality, suggests getting everyone involved for family-themed fun.
- Pair up with costumes: Consider dressing up as Winnie the Pooh, your toddler as Piglet and your pet as Tigger or Eeyore. If your family is more the superhero bunch, there's always Batman and Robin or Superman and Captain America. Visit your local PetSmart store for other fun costumes from Martha Stewart Pets, Disney and Bret Michaels Pets Rock lines.
- Dress up every pet: Costumes aren't limited to cats or dogs either. PetSmart now offers ghoulish Halloween costumes for guinea pigs, too.
When you're prepared, there's no telling how much spooky fun the whole family can have.