Tricks and Treats!!

Kate Abbott, Petra Burke & Liz Palika  on Pet Life Radio

Halloween can be a fun time of year with people in costumes, lots of candy, and many parties. Your dog can part in this with you as long as you take some precautions to keep him safe. Don’t let him get into the candy (and don’t forget chocolate is poisonous to dogs!). Introduce your dog to a costume well before Halloween so he gets used to it gradually, and make sure it’s safe for him to wear. Let him see you put on your costume, too, so he isn’t afraid of it.

Many groups use a Halloween party as a fund raiser for their efforts and these parties can be great fun. Kindred Spirits Canine Education Center in Vista, CA is sponsoring their 18th Annual Halloween Party this year as a fund raiser for their service dog training program and for the North County Chapter of the Love on a Leash therapy dog group. If you belong to a dog group or club, you may want to think about a party like this, too.


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“It’s a big world out there, and you are just looking for a pat on the back or head, you run around the city searching for a place to bark, working your tail off, with your nose to the ground sniffing for a few scraps hoping someone will throw you a bone.  You take each lead, corner after corner, hoping one day to take a bite out of success and become the top dog.  Fortunately you come home each day to open arms, open cans of drink waiting for you and a comfortable place in front of the TV set, you know you got it good, really good, because after all it’s a doggy dog world out there.  Pet Life Radio presents “It’s a Doggy Dog World “with your host, pet expert and award-winning author, Liz Palika and this week’s co-hosts, Kate Abbot and Petra Burke.

Liz Palika:  Welcome to “It’s a Doggy Dog World “on Pet Life Radio.  I am your host Liz Palika and I want to thank you for joining us today.  My co-hosts are my very good friends Petra Burke and Kate Abbot from Kindred Spirits Canine Education Center in Vista, California.

Kate Abbot:  Hello all.

Petra Burke:  Hello.

Liz Palika:  Boy, they are both very chatty today.  I know that Halloween is about a month away, but you two have your costumes ready yet?

Kate Abbot:  Well, I am going to redo and repair my costume from last year.  Remember last year how we found stars and moons all over the training field.  For a about a week, people were coming up to me and handing me those little plastic planets.  This year I am sewing all the glow-in-the-dark stars all into my outfit.

Petra Burke:  I remember that since my Pomeranian was picking them up in her mouth and playing with them.  This year my daughter is in charge of creating costumes for a poor dog.  So, we will see what she comes up with.

Liz Palika:  Or whether she comes up with anything at all, teenagers being procrastinators.  Well, you both know that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  Halloween and Christmas, both of which because I think there is lots of decorating and partying and goody bags and stuff like that, but also Kindred Sprits dog training does a big Halloween party every year.

Kate Abbot:  We have been helping Liz and she does enjoy this holiday I think a little too much at times, but this will be our 18th Annual Halloween party at Kindred Spirits.  It is hosted as a fundraiser for a therapy dog program, which is “Love On A Leash” and our “Service Dog” program.  We have had as many as 70 dogs including their human families participate.  We have never had a dog fight, thank goodness, knock on wood.  This party is a blast.  We are also having opportunity trying lots of food and wonderful costumes.

Liz Palika:  Well, we will talk about this a little bit more in a few minutes, but right now let’s take a break.  We want to thank our sponsors for the show, but don’t go anywhere.  We are going to talk about costumes for yourself and your dog and we will also be talking about how to get your dog ready for Halloween.


“Sit, stay, “It’s a Doggy Dog World” will be right back after a short “paws.” Well, four to be exact.”

“There is nothing like a shaggy dog baby, they are shagadellic and this is the place to find out how to have harmony in the household with your pets.  Oh-oh yeah, so stop by our pad every week and get switched on baby, switched on to the show that is all about attitude, “Oh Behave,” with your groovy host, pet edu-tainer Arden Moore.  Yeah baby, yeah, every week on demand on” 

We know you are begging for more, so back to “It’s a Doggy Dog World” with your fetching hosts, Liz Palika and this week’s co-hosts Kate Abbot and Petra Burke.

Liz Palika:  All right, welcome back to “It’s a Doggy Dog World.”  I am your host, Liz Palika and my co-hosts today are Petra Burke and Kate Abbot from Kindred Spirits Canine Education Center in Vista, California.  We are talking about Halloween, now I realize Halloween is a month from now, but with dogs and especially with costumes, you need time to get your dog ready for Halloween.

Kate Abbot:  I mean look at it from a dog’s point of view, what do they think about Halloween, strange creatures, weird shapes, eerie sounds, strange smells all over their house and neighborhood.

Petra Burke:  It can be scary for any dog, even the most obedient dog can be frightened enough and behave unexpectedly.

Kate Abbot:  There is still lot of time before Halloween, but if you are planning to have your dog wear a costume, it may take sometime to get them used to wearing it.

Petra Burke:  The outcome can be lots of fun.  For example, Keely my Pomeranian is always dressed up, so she is very used to it.  Teddy, my German Shepard doesn’t really care what you put on him.  He just has to be with you.  And then Kona, he is so laid-back, he will do the same thing.  And then there is Logan, my other Aussie, well what can I say about Logan, he loves to work, but if he has to wear something he would think someone would have stolen his favorite bone.  He will tolerate it, doesn’t fight about it, but would rather do anything else except for that costume.  So, it takes more patience and time with him.

Liz Palika:  And just as Kate and Petra were saying every dog is an individual.  My two youngest dogs, also Australian Shepherds; Riker loves to party, he is a big clown, anything that gets him attention makes him happy.  Last year I got a great big huge leather collar with three rows of spikes and then I got a thick plastic chain that attach to him that looked like it should have held a brace of the biggest Pitbulls on the planet.  He thinks it’s a blast.  So, me and my witch costume and my witch hat and my magic wand and my canine familiar on his collar and chain, and that’s a good costume, it works for us.  Now, Bashir my youngest, he thinks that it might be a little insulting.  So, you really do need to know your dog.  If your dog is very insulted about wearing a costume, think twice about what you are going to dress him up as, maybe he needs something very simple.

Petra Burke:  We all enjoy Liz in her witch costume, we encourage her to wear that every year.  Anyway, get your dog’s costume ready early, find out how he reacts to it.  Can you put a leash on your dog while he is in costume, is your dog comfortable, can your dog see, that’s important, can he hear, can he move, of course can he breathe easily, all these points are very important to take note.

Kate Abbot:  And don’t forget can he also pee and poop while wearing his costume.

Liz Palika:  Yeah, we don’t often think about that, but that’s important too.  It’s very exciting when you think about putting a costume on your dog, especially if you like to dress up for Halloween also, but don’t let it overrule your common sense.  When you are teaching the dog to wear a costume, take it very slowly, may be just take one or two pieces of the costume and put it on the dog, let it get used to it.  Use lots of praise, lots of treats, let him know that wearing this costume gets him lots of attention and his best treats, little bits of hot dog or a left over chicken or whatever, but make it really exciting for him.

Petra Burke:  And one thing you want to keep in mind, never leave your dog alone in costumes.  He could get the costume caught on something, which will make him panic, he could chew off parts of the costume, he could swallow something that could be dangerous to him like the moon and stars that Kate wore last year.  So just be very cautious, but have fun with your dogs.

Kate Abbot:  I don’t recall anybody actually swallowing one of those glow-in-the-dark stars and moons, but it made nighttime poop patrol very interesting.  I have to confess that three Halloweens ago, I made some poor decisions about a costume for my girl, Rottweiler. I meant well, I mean I had a thing going my male Cockapoo, Walter, he was in a tuxedo. I was dressed as the chauffeur, butler for the night.  So, I thought it would be funny to have my female Rottweiler dressed up as a playboy bunny, it was an easy costume.  I got some bunny ears on a headband, Gina got used to wearing that, no problem, then I put a bright pink shirt and a bow around her neck, yeah no problem for that.  I took a handful of cotton balls, stuck them together with some glue, sprayed the whole ball lightly with some party glue that I put it on her butt just above her tail and she didn’t even have a problem with that.

Liz Palika:  But I think Riker, one of my dogs was one of the dogs that was following her around pulling the cotton balls off her butt.  I don’t whether he thought she was a weird kind of sheep or whatever.  It was very very sad.  I think we all had memories of poor Gina, it is either a dog pulling at her neck to get the feathers around her bow out there or a dog pulling on her rear end and the cotton balls coming off.

Kate Abbot:  Yeah, so my bell of the ball retired early that evening.  She wasn’t having a whole lot of fun at the party.

Liz Palika:  Some of the costumes that we have seen over the years, let’s see, the grand price winner from our costume contest last year, this couple has of couple of Shelties and one of the Shelties is a blue mural, which means she is shades of grays and black and white.  And they took a cardboard box and painted it and decorated it to make it look like a black & white TV and the blue mural sheltie lied down inside the box that was cut out with the screen and she was labeled “Glassy” in black and white.  And it was absolutely awesome.  I remember a few years ago also a family with Australian Shepherds.  The Australian Shepherds were dressed up as sheep and the people were dressed up as Australian Shepherds.

Kate Abbot:  There is a wonderful family that the entire family came as super heroes including the dog.  They all had on, you know, capes and utility belts.  Superman, superwoman, superchild, superdog, that was a great crowd pleaser that year.

Liz Palika:  My witch costume has gone through several evolutions too and last year I think or the year before it was particularly good because I was all in black, now keep in mind that I am sunbleached blonde, not particularly tiny, and so I was all in black with a big flowing black cape and a large pointed black witch’s hat.  And one of the dogs that had gone through our classes and knew was very very well, a Boxer by the name of Dillon was absolutely petrified.  Every time he saw me, he barked, he growled, it took me most of the Halloween party to make up to him, and then he still wasn’t quite sure who I said I was.

Kate Abbot:  Actually, I think that Dillon was absolutely certain you were who you were and it just confirmed what he always believes about you, I think that’s why he had such a hard time.


Liz Palika:  Oh, I know…


Petra Burke:  You took the words right out of my mouth, I fell for the same thing she is…


Kate Abbot:  Oh I had a wizard’s costume on last year and actually nobody had a big problem with the cape and the glow-in-the-dark stars as long as they stayed on my costume.  But, I had also picked up a mask that went over my whole head and it had black mesh for the face.  So, I literally had no face.  That freaked the dogs out more than any of the masks of anything, just that void that really scared them.  I didn’t wear it for very long at the party.

Liz Palika:  Yeah, they were laughing about me being a witch.  That faceless thing kind of scared me too.  We have had star wars complete with a spaceship, oh all kinds of them.  Petra, what are some of the ones you remember.

Petra Burke:  My favorite was a friend of ours with a huge, about 120 pounds Rottweiler dressed as Goldie Locks with the wig and all, it was one ugly Goldie Locks, and then her three Jack Russells, who were the three bears and that was adorable.

Kate Abbot:  I had dressed my rottie one year as the queen, so she had on a royal purple cape and a tiara.  And a French German Shepherd was the king and he had on a red cape and a crown and without even planning it, some other members of the party had come with her son, who was a knight in shining armor, and her little twin Danielle who was a princess with a pink castle.  We all joined forces and we became the royal court.  And, just as a side note, the young boy is autistic, but he had such a blast that the next year or about two weeks before Halloween, he was already asking his mom if we were going to do the royal court again. He had remembered it all the way to the next year.

Petra Burke:  So those were examples of dogs dressed up in elaborate costumes, but not all dogs can adjust to wearing a costume.  So, still dress them up, all you have to do is put a bandana with some Halloween fabric, when it comes to near the holiday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, there is a lot of nice material out there that you can use.

Liz Palika:  All right, well we have got to take a break right now for messages from our sponsors, so just hold on, don’t go anywhere.  We have still got a lot more to talk about as far as Halloween and how to keep it safe.  So, we will be back in a minute.

“Sit, stay, “It’s a Doggy Dog World” will be right back after a short “paws.” Well, four to be exact.”


“We know you are begging for more, so back to “It’s a Doggy Dog World” with your fetching hosts Liz Palika and this week’s co-hosts, Kate Abbot and Petra Burke.

Liz Palika:  Welcome back to “It’s a doggy dog world.”  I am your host, Liz Palika, and my co-hosts today are Petra Burke and Kate Abbot from Kindred Spirits Canine Education Center in Vista, California.  Today, we are discussing getting ready for Halloween.  So far we’ve been talking about costumes for your dog, but don’t forget you have got to get your dog used to other people in costumes and of course the costume you have picked out for yourself.  Dogs don’t always know that costumes are something temporary that can come back off.  They may smell you as the same person, but when you look very different, it can be a little startling to some dogs.  So, it’s very important that we get the dog used to it.

Petra Burke:  Go, put on your own costume the night before, but do it in front of your dog, let him watch while you are transforming.  A few years back my ex-husband put what he thought was a very cool mask, put it on him, came out and my dog freaked, and I thought my German Shepherd was going to attack them.  So, don’t do that, put it on in front of them, have fun with it, show them what you are doing, jolly him, don’t let him get worried about it.

Kate Abbot:  And put it on way before Halloween, get him used to it, I mean I think that’s a perfect excuse to have a pre-Halloween party days ahead of time and have your friends come in costume to that one as well.

Liz Palika:  I have got a story about getting used to a costume.  Also one year when one of the new Star Wars movies came out, my husband dressed up as one of the bad guys, I think they were called the Siths, he was dressed as the Sith with the red and black mask with the horns and the black cape and the lifesaver.  And well, my husband who rides a motorcycle, has some black motorcycle leathers, so he went back in the bedroom, put on his motorcycle leathers, his black motorcycle gloves, his black motorcycle boots, a black cape, and then this red and black Sith mask, walked down the hallway towards the living room and I thought all three Australian Shepherds were going to lose their minds and they came alive.  Shirley is a strange creature, had broken into the house from the back door and was going to get mom even when he spoke to them, and they heard his voice, they stopped long enough to listen to him, but they were very very startled.  So, it’s very important that we let the dogs get used to this and used to it gradually.

On another aspect of this Halloween, we rarely have trick or treatersanymore, so not many people show up at the door, at least in my neighborhood anyway.  The only trick or treaters we get are usually the kids that are way too big to be out trick or treating.  And I kind of miss that tradition, but for dogs it’s probably a little bit easier that all those weird people don’t show up at the door.

Kate Abbot:  As much as I miss the little ones all dressed up looking so cute, I really also don’t miss trying to explain to my Cockapoo, Walter that the ghosts and goblins coming to our door are just really the nice kids down the street.

Petra Burke:  If your dog is upset about trick or treaties or probably trick or treaters, you are probably better off keeping them in another room away from the front door and with a really good shoe bone or something that they would like to enjoy.  Don’t leave them unattended in the backyard, it is better to be safe in the house.

Liz Palika:  I just thought of a scene from the movie ET, where ET is with Elliot and they are going walking around on Halloween and ET, the alien, is looking at all these people dressed up in funny costumes and he kind of wondered what earth is really like with all these weirdoes walking around on Halloween.  For your dog, it’s probably much the same.  If your neighborhood still has trick or treating or if you have Halloween party at your kids school or church or YMCA or something like that, don’t take your dog with you, that can be really upsetting, plus there is way too much candy out there and you know candy is going to be dropped and some of the dogs, they are going to snack some of it. That’s a good point to mention too that chocolate is poisonous to dogs.  We don’t want them to pick up anything chocolate and they don’t need all those sugar either.  So, between keeping your dog mentally sound, so he doesn’t get frightened by all these little trick or treaters and the candy, keep them at home.

Kate Abbot:  Even the most obedient dog can be frightened enough to behave unexpectedly.  And if he should get upset enough to run out the front door and then everywhere he turns, there are strange creatures about, that’s just scary and doesn’t need to be in that position.  One emergency vet reported that the two reoccurring issues that he deals with every Halloween are caused by fear and poison.  Fear from the dog running out perhaps into the street, getting lost or injuring himself trying to find a hiding place and poison referring to all those wonderful goodies that we are passing out.

Petra Burke:  And as wonderful as Halloween can be, I probably would run their daily course myself for a bag of candy corn and that’s my weakness unfortunately…

Liz Palika:  Now, get real…


Petra Burke:  So, I hope everyone knows that like Liz mentioned that chocolate is potentially lethal to your dogs.  Even lollypops, sticks, candy wrappers can be dangerous.  So, be sure to keep the Halloween stash of goodies out of the reach of your dogs.

Kate Abbot:  You know, years ago when I was a veterinary technician, we had an emergency call one Halloween night.  The owners of a Dachshund had put the candy they were handing out to the trick or treatersin a plastic bucket by the front door.  Unfortunately, they left the bucket unattended to go into the kitchen.  When they came back to the front door, they were just in time to see Marley the Dachshund backing out of an empty bucket.  It was extensive lesson for Marley’s owners and a really miserable couple of days with Marley.  He did recover but to make it even worse, he was back on an emergency call on Thanksgiving, having eaten an entire plate of fudge, left unattended on the coffee table.  I can guarantee you that Marley’s owners really started paying more attention to him after that.

Liz Palika:  Ahhh, yes, yes, I hope they paid more attention.  I spent a number of years as a vet tech also and I think all of us have stories like that, if they are not at Halloween or at Thanksgiving, then it is at Christmas when the dog gets into the chocolate oranges under the tree or the stockings that Santa leaves.  We do have to protect our pets because they don’t have the common sense, they don’t know that these things are dangerous.  And that brings up a good point.  Do you know what your veterinarian’s polices are if there is an emergency?  Some veterinarians don’t take after-hours calls, others are very willing to, and some veterinarians would rather that you called a local emergency veterinarian who has staff specifically for emergencies.  It is a good idea to call your veterinarian ahead of time and find out what his policies and procedures are.  You don’t want to have your dog at home sick or injured and then try to figure out what to do.  If you know ahead of time, it makes things much smoother.  And you know, if your dog is hurt or you know, he has gotten into the chocolate or he has gotten into the Halloween candy, you can be panicky yourself, you might not be thinking too clearly.  Make sure you also have directions as to where the emergency clinic is and how to get there.  Do this homework ahead of time as it will give you some piece of mind and it might save a few minutes for your dog and that it is important.

Petra Burke:  So, as long as you know how to get your dog to the emergency room in quick time and a quick manner that is awesome.  Now, the only thing that might show up at the emergency room this Halloween will be Kate if she doesn’t stop hanging those fake spiders, I keep jumping on my head around this office.


Liz Palika:  Well, we can talk about dogs all day, but we are just about out of time.  Petra, Kate and I would like to thank our producers and our sponsors for making this show possible.  And we would like to thank you, our listeners, for letting us talk about our favorite subject, dogs.

Kate Abbot:  We would also like to hear from you.  If you have any questions or concerns, email us at and we will try to answer your questions at an upcoming show.

Petra Burke:  Start thinking about fun, costume and make it a safe and fun Halloween for your dogs and your family.

Kate Abbot:  Work your dogs hard, but love them lots.

“Having a rough day, longing for the dog days of summer, think your fun ferry friend lives a dog’s life, well find out everything you are begging to know as Pet Life Radio presents, “It’s a Doggy Dog World” with pet expert and award-winning author, Liz  Palika.  Every dog has his day and you will find out how to make your dog’s day fun and rewarding every week on demand only on