Looking for ways to celebrate the season with your dog? We take a page from the traditional holiday carol with 12 days of festive ideas.
Our dogs may not care much about holiday music, but they love spending time with us, and that doesn’t change during the festive season. Here are a dozen fun and simple ways you can share the merriment with your dog over the “Twelve Days of Christmas”.
On the first day….bake some goodies
Holiday baking isn’t just for the two-legged. Popular seasonal ingredients like cinnamon, mint, turkey and cranberries are great for canine health, and make yummy additions to drool-worthy dog treats. Get your pooch involved in the process by making him the official taste tester, and let him clean up whatever ingredients “accidentally” fall to the floor.
Tip: Visit animalwellnessmagazine.com/cookbook for 50+ dog-friendly recipes!
On the second day…visit a holiday market
Not all dogs love crowds. But if your pooch is a social butterfly, holiday markets are a fun and festive way to spend an afternoon. First make sure the market allows pets, then spend a couple hours checking out all the vendors. The sights and smells will stimulate your dog’s mind and help teach him good behavior in busy environments. Plus, it’ll give you the chance to do some holiday shopping!
On the third day…throw a pup party
Know friends with dogs? Celebrate the season by hosting a pup party! Ask everyone to bring a toy or accessory and participate in a fun secret Santa just for the dogs. Next, let the canines play while you and your guests enjoy a few appetizers or a potluck. When all is said and done, everyone will leave happy and satisfied. Plus, you’ll go down in history for throwing the cutest party in town!
On the fourth day…take your dog to see Santa
This classic holiday activity is no longer just for kids. Many animal rescues and pet stores have begun holding “meet Santa” events for dogs. Some organizations ask for donations to help support animals in need and promote adoption, while others host the events as a thank you to their customers. Either way, it’ll make for some adorable photos of your pup.
Tip: Some dogs are frightened by strangers, especially loud ones! If you take your dog to meet Santa, remember that this jolly holiday character isn’t as familiar to him as he is to you. Take it slow and don’t force him to sit on Santa’s lap.
On the fifth day…fetch a tree
Cutting down your own tree is a beloved family tradition, and it’s even better if your dog can come along with you. Find a tree farm near you and give them a call to confirm that dogs are allowed. Once you’ve retrieved the perfect tree, ask about donating some extra cash for a new tree to be planted, or plant one yourself at home. It’ll benefit the environment and give you and your dog more time to enjoy the crisp winter air.
On the sixth day…watch holiday classics
Everybody enjoys a “Netflix and Chill” date – including your canine companion. The hustle and bustle of the holidays can become overwhelming, especially if your days are jam-packed with dinners and events. Set aside a day to cuddle up on the couch with your pooch, some healthy snacks and a stack of your favorite holidays films. Santa Paws, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure and A Charlie Brown Christmas all feature four-legged stars.
On the seventh day…go shopping together
Many retail stores have opened their doors to dogs. Popular chains like Abercrombie and Fitch, Sephora, Pottery Barn, Bath and Body Works, Barnes and Noble and even Macy’s all boast dog-friendly locations. If you don’t want to subject your dog to the holiday madness in-store, take her out for some window shopping. Roam the streets and keep a running list of gift ideas you can grab at a later date.
On the eighth day…enjoy a parade
As long as your dog is okay with loud noises and won’t be frightened by bands and large colorful floats, a parade can make for a barking good time! Keep your pooch from getting antsy by walking against the direction of the parade. This way, you’ll still see everything… and you’ll see it faster!
Tip: If it’s a cold day, be sure your dog is protected with a cozy sweater or canine coat.
On the ninth day…take a tour to admire the lights
Chances are, both you and your dog could use some exercise to burn off those extra holiday calories! Almost every community has a few neighborhoods known for being the best-lit. Take an evening stroll and admire the beautiful decorations, or take your dog for a drive if you’ve already met your exercise criteria for the day. He’ll love the quality time with you – and you’ll get some great ideas for decking your own halls.
On the tenth day…snap some holiday photos
The holidays aren’t complete without a few snapshots of the family wearing tacky festive get-ups and paper hats. So grab your camera and capture some jolly memories! If your pooch enjoys dressing up, buy him his own holiday outfit and encourage him to pose by enticing him with a slice of turkey or cheese. If all goes well, you can even use one of the photos as the backdrop for your annual holiday card.
On the eleventh day…set some New Year’s goals
If you haven’t thought about your plans for next year, now is the time to do it! Once you’ve set your own goals, write down some resolutions for your pup. For example, the New Year is a great time to switch your furry friend to a higher quality food, teach him a few new behaviors, or simply commit to spending more quality time with him. Stick the list on the refrigerator as a year-round reminder that your dog deserves the best.
On the twelfth day… get away from it all
The holidays are stressful as well as exciting, so you need to make sure you give yourself – and your dog – some R&R. Why not head to a B&B for a night? Bed and breakfasts offer you a chance to recuperate from the year gone by – and they’re only one of many accommodation options that often welcome dogs.
Tip: Always remember to confirm pet policies before booking.
Spreading the joy!
If you want to do more for dogs and other animals in need, spread the holiday cheer by giving to a local shelter, or donating food, toys or a bed. If you have some free time, consider volunteering. Many animal shelters and rescue organizations host fundraising events over the holidays, or you can help by walking the dogs, playing with the cats, or taking on other tasks.