If your holiday vacay is now a staycay and you’re staying close to home and healthy, we have ideas to plan a wonderful holiday season with your dog,
Find 35+ fun ideas, resources, and tips to keep you and your dog happy and healthy at home.
Fun At-home Activities For You and Your Dog
You’ve been turning to your dog for support and constant companionship, and now it’s time to return the favor! Enjoy any of these activities with your dog to have fun and strengthen your bond.
Treat Your Dog
If you’re stress baking, we bet there’s a furry someone nearby who would love something homemade. Get dog biscuit recipes from top LA pastry chefs via The Los Angeles Times and check out our easy recipe for Homemade Frosty Paws.
Get into the holiday spirit, and host a Christmas Cookie Exchange — for dogs (and people – you’d like cookies too, right?)
Teach a Trick
We challenge you to teach your dog at least one new trick by New Year’s day!
If your dog already knows how to sit and shake, teaching High Five will be a cinch. Watch this two-minute video from Chewy, practice, and your dog will be high fivin’ in no time.
Actually, they’re less-slobbery nose-taps. And this adorable trick is easy to learn and will melt hearts everywhere! Get instructions at WoofReport.com/kisses.
Charm friends when you introduce them to your very polite dog who will extend a paw on cue. The Shake trick is an oldie but goodie and a simple one to teach your dog. Follow 9 easy steps from the AKC to teach your dog to shake.
Socialization in Isolation
Socialization is a crucial part of a puppy’s development and essential for newly adopted and foster dogs, but how can you introduce your pup to new people, dogs, and experiences in a time of social isolation?
Certified dog trainer Jessica Ring shares online resources and a round-up of dog trainers’ excellent tips to get your dog prepped for the world around her. Get her tips at MyFantasticFriend.com.
Tune in to Training
It’s a great time to work on your dog’s manners or teach your dog a new trick.
See what your local trainers offer in the way of interactive online classes or video instruction. Also, look to online courses from certified and positive-only dog trainers like Ian Dunbar at the DunbarAcademy.com or Zak George, who offers YouTube videos.
If you want to try trick training, get your paws on our favorite book, 101 Dog Tricks, with easy step-by-step instructions and photos.
Learn a Training Treat Tip
To get the most from your training sessions, experts at The Whole Dog Journal recommend taking training treats to a whole new level! Use the very best tangy, tantalizing treats to motivate your dog to focus. Also, give your dog a variety of tasty treats. Read more at The Whole Dog Journal.
Indoor Dog Fun
Getting outside is the best thing for most people and pups, but indoor games like Hide and Seek and Tug of War are not only fun for your dog, but they teach, too. See a list of fun indoor games to play at WoofReport.com/indoor-games.
Older dogs are just like younger ones, they love to play! Play is important throughout a dog’s life for mental and physical health and it’s the ultimate in bonding with your dog.
From the experts at Fear Free Happy Pets, find new games to play with your senior dog and tips to modify the beloved classics. For example, keep your games low, soft, and easy for your dog’s safety and comfort. When throwing a ball, keep it low to the ground so fetching is easy on your dog’s joints, and play on a soft surface like your bed – toss a toy for your dog to catch or hide one under a pillow for your dog to find. Read more at Fear Free Pets.
Toys, Toys, Toys
Some of the money you’re not spending on travel this holiday can go straight to your dog’s toy fund! Puzzle toys and feeders offer so many benefits for your dog – they’re a special treat, they can be used to slow down feeding and keep your dog occupied. Best of all, they’ll keep your dog mentally challenged. See our favorites below.
Dog Sudoku by My Intelligent Pets tests your dog’s cognitive skills. Let your dog maneuver the colorful tiles to search for hidden treats. Our dog (and cat!) love this sturdy wooden toy.
Your dog can work for small treats in this easy-to-fill puzzle toy or you can fill it with kibble to slow down feeding. Adjust the difficulty level of the dispensing system as needed.
Like Dog Sudoku, your dog can slide levers to reveal his or her favorite treats. This puzzle toy is both challenging and stimulating for dogs.
Every dog deserves a classic KONG toy. The inside is hollow and allows you to stuff it with treats or your dog’s meal. Pack it with healthy treats like sliced apple, too. Search online for tips and recipes for packing the perfect KONG.
Snuffle mats are small, rug-like slow feeders that help your dog exercise his or her natural foraging instincts. Fill them with kibble or treats for a stimulating, easy-to-use puzzle feeder.
DIY Dog Toys
You don’t have to buy your dog toys, you can make them with items you may already have at home! Create the classic Muffin Tin-Tennis Ball game, or cut and braid strips of a towel to make the perfect tug toy. Check out great ideas from Bark Post.
Massage a Dog
If your dog seems stressed or anxious given our new way of life, consider giving your pup a massage!
Regular massage offers many benefits for you both, including strengthening your bond and decreasing anxiety. Watch a wonderful video featuring Dr. Leilani Alvarez from NYC’s The Animal Medical Center, who shares pet massage techniques you can do at home.
If you need another reason to watch the video, Dr. Alvarez demonstrates on an adorable Golden named Watson. While most dogs enjoy relaxing massages (ours included!), watch your dog’s body language to be sure he or she is comfortable.
The Nose Knows
Everyone knows about a dog’s dazzling sense of smell, and you can put it to work with Nosework, an easy-to-learn sport that just about any dog can do anywhere.
Nosework lets you test your dog’s ability to use her sense of smell to locate a specific odor, and at home, this can be hidden toys or treats. Find out more about Nosework at k9nosework.com.
On the topic of your dog’s amazing sniffer, when you’re out on a walk, allow your dog to take her time and sniff! Scent is a dog’s best sense and how they see the world, so allowing your dog to sniff to his or her heart’s desire will bring joy!
DOGTV and Chill
We found something just for your dog, a free subscription to DOGTV. DOGTV offers 24/7 content scientifically developed for dogs and delivered via the streaming service of your choice or select cable providers. The company is offering a free trial subscription for dogs to enjoy with their people while they’re home together.
At-Home Activities Just for Dog Lovers
Puppy Cams to the Rescue
Finally learn how to take good photos of those fast-moving critters – pets and kids with the Nikon Online School’s 50-minute class for photographing pets and kids. Nikon is offering all online classes free of charge through December 31st.
Do something with all of those snaps of your adorable dog – make a photo book, stickers or socks with your dog’s fuzzy mug at sites like Shutterfly. Better yet, get a custom pet portrait of your dog as a framed print, mug, or phone case. on our site — Pawfect Prints.
Help Other Pet People
Check-in with elderly family members and neighbors with pets to see if you can help with dog walking or shopping online for pet food or supplies.
Snuggle up with your dog and watch – you guessed it – dog movies! Scroll through the Rotten Tomatoes list of the 80 best dog movies of all time and find something you’ll both enjoy. Before you tune in, consult DoesTheDogDie.com to be sure the dog in the film lives happily ever after.
It was a matter of time before those fabulous furry co-workers, video call cameo makers, and lunch samplers were honored with their own Instagram account. Visit @dogsworkingfromhome to see adorable dogs doing their part to make working from home more interesting.
Find New Favorites
Favorite dog websites and resources, that is… Visit The Dog List, our ‘sister’ site and a directory with over 250+ handpicked websites for dog lovers. Find the best for dogs in health and wellness, travel, shopping, local dog resources, and more.
Kids + Canines
If your home is filled with both dogs and kids, see our list of Fun Activities for Kids Who Love Dogs. We have at least 20 more ideas to add to the list considering summer is coming and camps are closed! Subscribe to our newsletter to get on the list to get the list.
Read About Rover
Dig into recent releases that will teach you more about your best friend. Don’t miss Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You, by Clive Wynn Ph.D. and Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy , by Zazie Todd, Ph.D.
Lend a Paw
If you haven’t yet tackled cleaning out your closets, take a look for any pet supplies you can spare — new dog toys your dog passed over or extra collars and leashes. How about extra towels and sheets? Check with your local shelter to what they can use and know gift cards are always welcome.
If you’ve already got the basics – portraits, selfies, and endless photos of your adorable dog sleeping go for new shots – we’re now doing close-ups, action shots, new angles, and slow-motion videos. You can never have enough pics of your dog!
Dogs in Your Inbox
This one will just take a minute! Subscribe to Woof Report, our once-a-week newsletter with the most fascinating and useful dog news of the week. You and your dog will love it!
Foster a Friend
There’s never been a better time to foster a dog and your dog may be willing to share your good company for the sake of helping homeless pets. While many animal shelters have successfully found temporary foster and permanent homes for their dogs and cats, many have not. Shelters are also bracing for an increase in surrenders with these tough times.
It’s also a great time to seek out shelters looking for temporary homes for dogs for the holidays. This not only gives the dogs (and you!) a special treat, but it lessens the burden on the hard-working shelter staff so they can enjoy time off for the holidays. Start your search here with the addition of your city name.
What’s so great about fostering? It helps pets get adopted. Research shows even short foster sleepovers are truly beneficial in getting dogs adopted. Such a win-win! Learn all about fostering and contact your local shelter.
Learn More About Your Dog
Here are some of the recent finds featured in our weekly newsletter — handpicked articles and interviews that provide insight into the behavior of your not-so-secret admirer.
Dog Facts. You may have heard dogs actually prefer baby talk (phew!), but did you know visual signals come more naturally to dogs than verbal cues. Get details on these facts and more from TheStacker.com’s 50 Fascinating Facts About Dogs. The information is sourced from scientific journals, news articles, and expert blogs, and includes links back to sources if you’d like to dig deeper.
Ask a Scientist. Read Reddit’s April 2020 AskScience AMA (Ask Me Anything) Series featuring three members of the Dog Aging Project’s veterinary team. See their answers to questions about dogs and COVID-19 and answers to other questions ranging from the essential (what can we do to extend the lives of our dogs?) to the curious (how exactly was the tiger tested for coronavirus?).
Rover Revealed. Listen to a 15-minute interview with Alexandra Horowitz, Ph.D., best-selling author, and head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College. Dr. Horowitz delves into dogs’ phenomenal sense of smell and how it influences their view of the world.
Dog Love. Take about 30 minutes and listen to a fascinating interview with Clive Wynn, a psychologist at Arizona State University who specializes in dog behavior, and the author of Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You. He explores how and why dogs love humans (and other species) and address other topics that will make us better dog partners.
Dogs Decoded. Enjoy an excerpt from the new book Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy written by social psychologist, certified dog trainer, and all-around pet expert Zazie Todd, Ph.D. It highlights scientific studies that reveal how dogs think about their people and the world around them.
Early Ancestors. Watch the 10-minute video from PBS Eons’ How Dogs (Eventually) Became Our Best Friends. The video opens with the recent discovery changing the history of dog domestication – a well-preserved 18,000-year-old puppy, and discusses how dogs evolved over time.
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