As a responsible parent, you take care to keep your children from approaching dogs you don’t know – whether they’re outside or in someone’s home – and to do so carefully even if the owner has reassured you that their dog is friendly. However, Halloween (and trick-or-treating in particular) brings some new challenges.
Halloween can be just as exciting for dogs for kids – and sometimes frightening. Whether a dog is out for its regular evening walk or participating in the family trick-or-treating, the sheer number of kids in costumes and carrying goodies can lead even the best-behaved dog to forget its manners.
If the owner has them off-leash or the leash is being held by a child who doesn’t have the strength to hold on, a dog can run up to kids, jump on them and even bite them. Too often, dogs escape their homes when the door is opened or are let out of their fenced-in yard.
Keeping your kids safe if you encounter a dog
You can’t make every dog owner act responsibly, but you can take steps to keep your children safe. Before you go out, tell them not to approach any dog – even ones they know. Dogs may not recognize them in a costume and mask and may be frightened by them. If they’re out with their people, they may feel an added need to protect them. If they’ve been forced into a canine Halloween costume, they may be extra cranky.
Make sure your kids know what to do if a dog runs toward them. Their instinct may be to run away, but that’s just going to excite the dog more and they’ll likely chase after them. Instead, have them practice “being a tree.” They should stand still, look at their feet and put their hands in front of them. The dog may give them a perfunctory sniff and move on to find something more interesting. If they are knocked to the ground by a dog, they should roll up into a ball, cover their face and remain still.
If you or your child is bitten by a dog this Halloween (or any time), it’s crucial to get them medical treatment as soon as possible. Often, a dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance will cover the expenses. If they don’t have enough coverage or their dog isn’t covered, it’s important to determine what your other options are for seeking compensation.