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Tips for avoiding Halloween dog bites

Halloween is an exciting time for kids, parents and pets alike. Unfortunately, not every dog can handle the new sights, sounds and smells, and can become fearful. Even the most trained dog can become overwhelmed with costumed strangers approaching their home or roaming the streets.

Whether you're a pet owner that wants to welcome trick-or-treat visitors or are a parent planning on taking the kids out for some Halloween fun, safety is key on the biggest pedestrian holiday of the year. Read on for tips to keep both dogs and kids safe and happy this Halloween.

For parents and trick-or-treaters

  • Avoid houses where you can see a dog outside, or hear a dog barking at the door. In fact, even if you know the dog, stay away - she may not be able to tell who it is in a costume.
  • If a dog does come to the door or gets out of the house, have children keep very still until the owner can control the dog or can come to the trick-or-treater to give them candy.
  • If you meet a dog while out walking, try to avoid it. Again, they may not know what to do about a strange-looking creature out at night and can get nervous or overly stimulated by all of the commotion.
  • If you encounter a stray or loose dog on the street, stay very still with your eyes on your feet and your hands folded in front of you. Moving around and running can further agitate the animal.

For dog owners

  • Some dogs get very afraid when there are too many unrecognizable sounds and people around. Turn on a radio, fan or TV for white noise to drown out new voices, and disconnect your doorbell or keep an eye out for trick-or-treaters before they ring the bell.
  • Keep the blinds or drapes closed, and keep the dog either in another part of the house or a kennel with a fun, long-lasting chew toy to keep him busy and separated from visitors.
  • Simply keep your dog indoors during Halloween. If that isn't possible, be sure the dog is kept behind a fence or another enclosure he cannot escape so he can't see new people and the visitors can't get to him.
  • Keep costumes off of your pets if they act like they don't like it or are upset. The unwanted costume may make your dog more agitated which can lead to lashing out at you or any visitors.

Dog bite liability in Colorado

As we've written about before on this serious issue, many states have strict liability to dog owners if their dog hurts someone - but Colorado does not. Instead, an injured person in Colorado must be able to show that the dog that hurt them has a "vicious propensity" to bite or injure other people. For instance, a dog that has previously bitten others or has barked, snarled or chased other people can help demonstrate the vicious nature of the dog.

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