Fall is an exciting season full of pumpkin patches, apple picking, spooky ghosts, and candy galore! With all the excitement, it’s important to keep in mind a few safety precautions for you and Fido as the weather cools down.
We’re detailing seven fall Fido safety tips here for an auspicious autumn!
BACK TO SCHOOL MEANS SOCIALIZING OPPORTUNITIES
School is back in session! Depending on your family structure, that may or may not be a big deal. However, if you have a puppy, this is a prime time to work on socializing skills.
With more kids out trekking to school and hanging out at the bus stop, consider making a detour in your regular walking route to encounter kiddos. The sooner you socialize your puppy with children, the better.
Most of your pup’s socialization should take place within the first three months of their lives – this is when they are primed to soak up everything around them and learn about the world. Positive experiences with children during this time period will go a long way towards your pup growing into an adult dog that handles kids with class.
The story is different if you have an older dog – in which case, tread carefully. Socializing an adult or aggressive dog with kids is much more dangerous, but it can be done with the help of a certified trainer or behaviorist.
You might start by simply positioning your dog where he has children within eyesight, and reward him for being calm. Be careful though – giving your dog treats if he becomes frantic near kids might reinforce that he should be scared of kiddos. This is why it’s best to work with a trainer who can provide appropriate guidance for slow socialization.
If your dog isn’t ready for kid-friendly encounters, get the low down on the kids’ walking route to school and work to actively avoid those areas. Avoidance is a perfectly adequate solution until you’re in the proper, prepared position to handle your dog’s issues.
WATCH OUT FOR FLOOR-FALLEN HALLOWEEN CANDY
It’s probably not news to anyone, but chocolate can be dangerous for dogs. Chocolate contains a chemical compound called theobromine that is poisonous to canines, and ingesting it can result in anything from tremors to heart attacks!
In truth, bigger dogs don’t need to worry too much about ingesting a mini Butterfinger or two – only dark chocolate is a real danger for larger canines. Thankfully, most kids aren’t fans of dark chocolate, so kid candy tends to be milk chocolate only!
Smaller dogs are much more at risk, and unfortunately, they are lower to the floor with prime access to fallen goodies.
To keep canines safe, have the trick-or-treat collection sit up on tables or in cabinets.
STAY VISIBLE IN THE FADING TWILIGHT
It’s sad but true – daylight is fading fast!
Shorter days might mean you’ll really have to dash out the door when you get home from work in order to ensure Fido gets his much-needed walk.
It’s important that you keep both yourself and your dog visible in the evening, and there are a few different ways to accomplish this.
Some owners opt to put flashing lights on their dog’s collars, or even purchase LED dog collars that shine bright (and are pretty cool looking). You may also want to get a reflective vest for yourself, and consider walking with a flashlight to seen and be seen.
It’s also worth noting that most cool-weather dog jackets will have reflective trim that can keep your pooch visible to cars while keeping him cozy. Fashion and function, the best of both worlds!
BE ON ALERT FOR LEAF PILES & POISON IVY
Everyone loves a good leap in a leaf pile, but the truth is that you never know what’s under a prime pile of leaves.
Sharp objects or pieces of class could be hidden under those lovely fall colors, so it’s best not to let your dog leap through sidewalk-strewn leaf piles with total abandon.
Poison oak and poison ivy can cause trouble for dogs in the fall as well, as they can be a bit more difficult to detect with all the increased vegetation on the ground.
In truth, dogs don’t usually have issues with poison ivy, as their thick fur protects most of their skin from the plant’s itch-inducing urushiol chemical. Unfortunately, one good pat or cuddle session with your pooch could get that poison ivy all over you, and you’ll definitely feel the effects!
For this reason, make sure to bathe your dog regularly if you suspect he has come in contact with poison ivy.\
YOU MAY FEEL LAZIER, BUT YOUR DOG DEFINITELY DOESN’T!
As the weather cools down, it’s normal for us humans to want to spend more time indoors catching up on our Netflix queue. However, your four-legger still needs exercise – and in all likelihood, he wants more than a short walk or two each day!
There are a number of ways to get Fido more movement even when you’re feeling more like a couch potato. For one, Wag and Rover are two dog walking services that make it easy to grab a walker nearby and schedule a stroll for your pooch.
You may want to also consider taking up a new sport with Fido, like canicross (where your dog and you run together as partners) or urban mushing (if you’ve ever wished your dog could jog alongside your bike or skateboard, definitely check out urban mushing)!
These sports don’t just keep you and your dog active – they are also great for strengthening your bond and learning to trust one another. Most owners find dog sports really rewarding as relationship-building tools!
TAKE PRECAUTIONS AGAINST FLEAS & TICKS
While mosquitoes and bees fade away with the fall, ticks and fleas are still out in numbers. As the weather grows cooler, they’re looking for a warm and cozy home to hunker down in for the winter.
Don’t slack on your dog’s flea and tick treatments, or you may find yourself with some problematic buggers in your home. There are several different kinds of flea and tick repellants you can use, from collars to topical applications, so choose whatever will work best for you and your dog.
Make sure to also do regular tick checks on yourself and Fido after any hikes or outdoor adventuring!
GATHER THE GANG FOR A HIKE, BUT GEAR UP FIRST!
Fall is a great time to leave the house and enjoy the outdoors! The changing leaves are gorgeous, and many dog and human pairs will take to the trails on hikes.
Keep in mind there are a few additional precautions you’ll want to take when hiking with dog in tow.
Make sure you gear up with a solid dog hiking harness – the best harnesses will feature bright colors and have attachment options for lights and bells to keep your dog visible and within earshot (not to mention your dog won’t be able to sneak up bears or other beasties that could do them harm). Measure your pooch for a well-fitting size and avoid anti-pull harnesses while hiking, since they limit mobility and can be very uncomfortable for hiking.
While you may be tempted to let your canine frolick off-leash, you really shouldn’t consider this option until you can bet $100 bucks on that he’ll come when called. Your dog really needs top notch recall abilities before you can safely let him wander off-leash.
If your dog isn’t quite ready for free run romping, opt for a long line and start training your pooch to work on coming when called. Nature is full of distractions, so hiking is actually a perfect training time!
Even if you do decide your dog can handle off-leash adventuring, you may want to consider a dog GPS collar for big hikes. They are pricey and usually require a monthly subscription, but if your dog goes missing on a huge mountain, you’ll never question their value again!
That about covers it for our fall safety tips. Do you have any advice we missed for fall with Fido? Let us know any other tips you have and what you think of our suggestions in the comments!
About the Author: Meg Marrs is the founder and senior editor at K9 of Mine, a dog care resource site dedicated to dog training, gear reviews, breed info, and more. In Meg’s book, there is no greater joy in this world than a batch of puppy kisses.