Pet Peeves: Every Day is Halloween (to Fido)

“No!” means “None for you” to your dog. Here are some alternative suggestions to “No” as we head into Trick or Treat time.

We take a stoll through Sherman Oaks to Studio City, pile clumsily into my automobile. We are bushed from our walk, practically busting zeroes while we drive. Back at the apartment, OP drops like faster than a commodity investment; and he appears asleep.

I look up from grading a pile of projects; OP is clearly not sleeping. He is prowling through my school bags for prey.

OP grabs my stuffed animal, and I say, "NO!"

(Now, I know better than that. The command is "Drop it!" I used to say, "Release!" For some reason it impressed my dog-trainer friends.)

I corrected myself with "Drop it!" He readily dropped the toy. And he's a terrier! They take longer than the average responder. I quickly offered OP a treat kept nearby and ready. He dropped it, because we have rehearsed this problem and solution. He likes praise and treats. Right?

(In case you're wondering why a man in his fifties carried a stuffed animal home. I use stuffed animals for Literature Circles. The child holding the animal is the one allowed to share out loud. That way the room is civilized for discussing literature in groups all around the room. 7 or 8 kids sharing around a room is totally different from 37 kids sharing around a room. This elephant needed re-stitching.)

Anyway, back to life after "No" and dropping it. Here's what I'm saying:

"Everyday is Halloween to Fido!"

Everyday is Halloween to your pet. Did you know that? (You should—it’s October, you ninny!) Fido has no bag, no costume, no cute phrase to say, no knock on the door.  He doesn’t ring the bell. But he has that look, doesn’t he?

“Trick or Treat!”

To Fido: “No, you can’t have that!” means “NONE! YOU GET NONE!”

One isn’t the loneliest number—as long as it’s the right “one.” None is the loneliest. Saying “No” is necessary from time to time, but “No”  means "NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL" to your dog unless you are redirecting. Redirecting means shifting attention to something other than the obsession causing the problem. 

"No!" for jumping should be “Off” and “No” for grabbing a toy or food should be “release” or “drop it.”

“Why,” you ask? Because to redirect means “something else” to the beast you are taming. What would you rather have—“nothing” or “something else?”

Here are three favorite redirects:

1)   Fido jumps up on you or a guest? Redirect him to sit and stay.  Then give him a little pocket treat. Don’t carry little pocket treats? It’s October, you ninny.

2)   Fido grabs your daughter’s stuffed elephant. “Drop it!” Then redirect to the safe chew toy you have in your pocket. Don’t have a safe chew toy that Fido always loves? It’s October, you ninny.

3)   Fido barks at the doorbell and prepares to rush the unsuspecting guest dressed in white like a wedding cake. Redirect Fido, as you’ve rehearsed so many times after reading this, to a doggie mat with his and your scent on it, where he is practiced to lie “Down!” And he is praised with “Good!” Shouldn’t he subsequently get a little treat from your pocket? (I don’t need to remind you what month it is.)

 Teach your dog by redirecting behavior to something else, and reward this with praise or a treat. Training dogs in Studio City is easy, responsible owners abound, but many owners need to learn that “No” is the least effective command. Re-direct, please!


OP was enjoying a tasty chew thing, guaranteed safe by vets, breeders, and other know-it-alls. They have experience as their guide. Things that clog the drain? From them you must refrain.

Please beware of any treat that is hard, brittle, and that fragments into splinters of any sort. Sticks are a bad treat—fine for a quick fetch. But, when the dog lies down to chew on it, please step in and be a responsible friend (and owner) and offer a friendly treat or toy instead. It’s always easiest to re-direct than to say no. And PIG’S EARS might end up in surgery costing thousands.

That’s a treat and a trick all in one. Happy Halloween a few weeks early.

For local good pet treats check out these below, and let us know if you have other ideas:

* Mark's Pet Supplies

* Maxwell Dog

* Petco

* Rusty's Discount Pet Center

Rich Addams October 10, 2012 at 07:25 PM
It should be a crime to dress your animal in a Halloween costume. What do you think of that Don?
Don Helverson October 15, 2012 at 06:25 PM
It's situational. Some people make it fun for the animal, full of praise, attention, treats and what-all. Others humiliate or burden their pets with costumes--but I'd say it's worse to have uncomfortable gear (harnesses too tight, collars that don't fit, training collars used without training or sympathy). You have to realize, mister history teacher responds further, that dogs are not a natural phenomena but a genetic invention of humans. They are bred to be docile and codependent. When humans live up to their part of the bargain, responsibly caring for a creature that will always be like a young child in complete dependence upon them, it doesn't matter so much about costumes or baby talk or anything else humans condescend about to one another. My real criminal verdict goes to neglect more than doting or pampering.
EddieGoing October 16, 2012 at 03:41 PM
HAHA! Great page! Have you seen this take on Halloween Pet Peeves & Costume Tips?! Enjoy :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHudq5UdQOU
Don Helverson October 20, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Wow, Eddie, a different Pet Peeves. Fun. thanks.


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