Celebrating the holidays with your dog can be fun… and stressful.
Let’s face it, some dogs declare war on the Christmas tree every year, and others think Christmas cookies should be a food group -can you blame them?
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Keeping your dog happy and healthy during the holidays is often as much of a struggle as keeping those holiday pounds off your hips and being successful at not telling off your irritating Aunt Rose at Christmas dinner. The struggle is real, for you and for your dog.
But if your dog is like family, you can start a few holiday traditions to help reduce stress and celebrate the important things this holiday season. After all, you’ve chosen to spend your life with your dog, and truth be told, you probably like him better than certain family members and neighbors.
Why not start a few traditions you can look back on fondly years from now when your pup’s old and grey? Plus, engaging in activities you actually enjoy can help balance all those holiday activities you dread but feel compelled to complete every year. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Holiday Traditions to Start with Your Dog
1. Baking for Two. Include dog cookies with your holiday baking. While sneaking a Christmas cookie or two won’t hurt your dog (as long as there’s no chocolate and they’re low-fat), it can tend to pack on the pounds, which is a constant worry for most dog parents. Instead of giving your dog a peanut butter cookie laden with fat and sugar, try baking a few doggie-specific treats so he has his own healthier version over the holidays. Pumpkin treats, peanut butter dog biscuits, and meat-based snacks are all popular and you’re sure to find one your dog loves. Including your dog in the holiday baking solidifies his spot in your heart and in your family. Just don’t forget the Christmas carols if he loves to sing along in the kitchen.
2. Caroling with the Dog. Speaking of Christmas carols, if your dog loves to sing, why not take him to serenade a few of your neighbors during his nightly walk? You could be the highlight of someone’s day or bring joy to someone who is struggling this holiday season.
3. The Perfect Tree. Who a better judge of the perfect tree than your dog? The Christmas tree hunt doesn’t have to be disappointing. Even if you come home with a Charlie Brown tree, taking your dog with you to tag along during the search for this year’s tree can become your family’s new Christmas tradition.
4. Ugly Dog Sweaters. Ugly sweater contests aren’t just for humans! You can host your very own doggie ugly sweater contest with friends and neighbors. You can make you own ugly dog sweater or shop online, because if we’re honest, lots of dog clothes aren’t very fashionable and tend to run toward tacky instead of tasteful.
5. Visit the Lonely. Visiting the nursing home or hospital during the holidays is a wonderful tradition to help give to those in need. Your time and company are more valuable than any gift for many, especially around the holidays. If your dog isn’t registered as a therapy dog already, call your local nursing home to find out what you need to do to bring him for a visit. You’ll find that even those folks who rarely respond to others anymore will respond positively to your dog. Pets aren’t often found in nursing homes, and many of the residents are animal lovers. Just the chance to pet and see your dog may be the greatest gift they could imagine this year.
6. Christmas Parades. Pet parades can be a fun way to show your Christmas spirit. If your pooch will tolerate a costume, dressing him up to walk in a Christmas parade will surely bring a smile to your neighbors and community.
7. Don’t Forget the Gift Wrap. Unwrapping presents can be fun for your dog, too. A few simple modifications, like forgoing ribbons and bows, can making unwrapping just as much fun for your furry best friend as it is for you.
8. Let it Snow. Snow days may seem like a pain with all that shoveling and cold, but spending the day outdoors with your pup can make even those unpleasant outdoor tasks a joy. Throw a few snowballs. Make a snow fort. Let your dog tunnel to the back door. Especially for cold-weather breeds like huskies, snow days are the best days of the year.
9. Don’t forget the furries. While most stores don’t allow dogs (except for service dogs) your dog can help you shop for his doggie friends this Christmas. If the people on your list are dog parents, include a small dog treat or toy with their present to show your support for their fur-kids as family members. Your dog can go to most pet stores or feed supply shops as long as he is up to date on shots and on a leash. He just might have unique insight into what you should get the fur-kids on your shopping list.
10. A Little R&R. Taking a vacation over New Year’s just might be the best tradition to start with your pup. Start the New Year off right with some quality time with your dog, making memories to last the rest of the year. Visit the beach, find a new doggie park, go hiking, rent an RV, or just tuck in for a stay-cation at home doing all the things you both enjoy.
Don’t forget to send out holiday cards from your pup showcasing his personality and adorableness. Even the non-dog lovers (such an abomination) in your family are sure to smile at all that cuteness, without the clinging dog hair and doggie breath breathing in their ear.
What holiday traditions have you started with your pup? Share your stories with us and help other dog parents make lasting memories with their precious pups this year, too.
At TruDog, our favorite holiday tradition is providing great deals for you and your pup.