Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Howl-oween happenings

By From page A6 | October 18, 2013

Halloween traditionally belongs to humans. But more and more humans don’t want to exclude their pups from what often remains a favorite holiday long past the age of trick-or-treating. These days, Halloween is less “hallow,” more “howl.”

Participants in last year’s Halloween Dog Parade and Costume Contest at the Tompkins Square dog run in NYC included a bulldog dressed as Mr. T, another bulldog dressed as Bjork in the Swan Dress, and Benny the Boxer as Butthead — just picture it. Best In Show went to a beagle mix named Maddie, who gave a fantastic performance as E.T.

Over on the other side of the country, Long Beach, Calif. — selected by Dog Fancy magazine as one of the nation’s dog-friendliest cities — hosts the annual Haute Dog Howl’oween Parade and costume contest, the largest of its kind in the United States.

And when it comes to parties, The Big Easy is not to be overlooked. New Orleans is home to the Howl-O-Weenie Pet and Pal Parade, featuring costume contest, on-site dog training demos and a Q&A with a vet.

You’ll find more of the same and then some in cities and towns across the country.

The good news is today’s dog has options beyond remaining housebound on Halloween. Even so, he might be better off keeping his paws firmly planted on familiar territory. This year, regardless of whether your dog stays home or swings through town on a wrecking ball dressed as Miley Cyrus, keep in mind the following tips to keep your beloved furball safe:

• ID tags and microchips, please! Should your pooch veer from the parade route or dart through the front door on the heels of some wicked trick-or-treaters, you want him to be identifiable.
• Use the leash. Again, home or not, the leash is your friend and your tool. Keep him on one, even inside your home if you find that you’re on a high-traffic trick-or-treat route.
• Wag the candle. Tails and open flame don’t mix and should never mingle. Keep candles out of reach of canines — and that goes for candle-lit jack-o’-lanterns, too.
• No treats. By that I mean no human candy treats. It’s as important to keep those candy wrappers away from Rover as it is to prevent the ingestion of the candy itself. Chocolate and xylitol are toxic to dogs and can be fatal in some circumstances. Don’t take any chances. Keep the goodies for the kiddies out of reach.
• Ditto for cords. Keep electrical cords from the jaws of dogs. The reasons are obvious.
• Be costume conscious. Only put your dog in a costume if he’s clearly into the idea. If he appears terrified or tortured at the notion, leave him to his birthday suit. And of course, any costume you outfit him in must allow him to see, hear, move, bark and breathe normally. No restrictions of any kind. Also check to be sure there are no chewable parts accessible to your dog and that it is flame-retardant.

Happy Howl-oween!

Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at, and visit him at Send your questions to [email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.

Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc. 

Matthew Margolis

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