How to avoid a haunting Halloween!

They go together like no other holiday: Autumn and Halloween. Cool crisp days and evenings, orange and yellow leaves crunching under our feet. The smell of bonfires wafts through the air and trick-or-treaters gleefully run about caught up in the excitement.

It's a fun and memorable night. But if your neighbors have dogs, it could turn into one that is hauntingly memorable. Rather than risk a Halloween nightmare, read on for ways to keep little ones safe during all the hubbub:

Make like a tree: Whatever your costume, if a strange dog approaches you, make like a tree--stand very still and nearly motionless. If possible, don't stand directly facing the dog, who might take it as a sign of aggression. Instead, turn your body slightly away and do not make eye contact with the dog. Firmly say, "Go home!" It's very likely the dog is just curious. Once he senses that you are not a danger, he should move on.

Don't approach a house with a dog: If you hear barking or see a dog tethered to a handrail outside the house, stay away. Dogs are very protective of their homes and their masters. Although the dog may be mild-mannered, even very peaceful dogs can nip or bite when they feel threatened, and the added excitement of little ghost and goblins only puts them on high alert. There is plenty of candy to be had, so head on to the next house rather than taking a risk.

Don't pet a dog, even one you know: On Halloween night, it is hard to recognize anyone. Couple that with darkness, groups of children squealing and running about, and a dog out with his master may feel the need to defend against danger. Keep back a healthy distance and save the petting for a calmer, clearer day.

Dogs make wonderful pets, but its imperative they we remember that they are still animals, with animal instincts. Take our advice to heart and you can be assured of happy Halloween memories for years to come.

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