If you have kids home from school, we have just the list for you — fun activities for both kids and dogs that will nurture their special bond.
It may seem obvious, but dogs play a vital role in a child’s development, especially as they navigate the waters of early adolescence. Their unconditional love, unfailing ability to keep a secret, and their inability to win an argument (unlike their human siblings), make them the perfect partners for building self-esteem and relationship confidence.
We’ve pulled together a list of some of our favorite activities to enable and nurture the special bond between your child or children and their dog.
1. Start off on the Right Way
Dogs are experts at reading body language and let’s be honest, humans are fairly miserable at it. Help your child open the lines of communication with your dog and their bond will increase 10-fold. Teach your children basic training methods, how to respect dogs, and how to read dog body language to start.
2. Tap Into Science
Pick up a copy of “Dog Science Unleashed” by Nat Geo Kids. Dog Science Unleashed offers 22 different safe and science-based activities for your child to explore. Wonder if your pup is a righty or a lefty? What smell do they love the most? Nat Geo Kids helps you answer these questions and more, all from the safety and comfort of your own home.
3. Teach an Adorable Trick
Nothing elicits a smile faster than a pup executing a trick perfectly. Our go-to-guide Kyra Sundance has a book of 101 Dog Tricks, with lots of activities thrown in for good measure. Master “peekaboo’, ‘say your prayers’ or which hand holds the treat and you may have the next TikTok or Instagram star on your hands!
4. Taste Test Treats
Partner with your child and pup to try various treat recipes, and find the one that your pup loves the most. Once you’ve identified a favorite, make several batches, pack them in treat bags and deliver them (along with the recipe!) to your friends and neighbors that have dogs. Kindness for the win!
5. Help Dogs In Need
Local animal rescues are always in need of donations to help place animals in forever homes. Consider helping your child host a community yard or bake sale (with dog treats!) with all proceeds going to the rescue of your choice.
6. Execute a “Best Day Ever”!
Identify the things that your dog loves the most, and help your children make these things happen for their best friend. Ideas include: a car ride, a visit to a coffee shop for a puppucino, long walk or hikes, a marathon fetch session, pool time, and heading out to the local pet store so your dog can choose a treat or toy. You may not be able to come close to Bailey’s “best day ever”, but you can try!
7. Glamour Shots
With today’s mobile phone cameras, you don’t need a fancy camera to get amazing pictures of your furry friend. Visit your local Dollar Store and pick up some holiday-specific props (if your dog will tolerate them), set up a mini-studio (ottoman or bench in front of a neutral backdrop), and execute your photoshoot! Include your child in both the picture taking AND being a subject with their best furriend. Make sure you make the best shots into a card and send them to all the grandparents!
8. Painting Paws
One of the most unique craft activities you can do with your dog is Painting Paws. Not only is it fun to work with your dog to create their masterpiece with their paws, but the end result is also a work of art that will be cherished forever. Incorporate your child’s handprints to increase the sentimental value 1000%. Visit our friends over at Wee Wee Frenchie for the step-by-step guide. (It’s an activity best scheduled for a sunny day!)
9. S’Paw Day
A spa day for your dog is a fantastic way for your child to bond with your dog during the necessary grooming activities. Teach them about proper handling at bathtime, during ear cleaning, and at blow-dry. Watch them enjoy the guaranteed post-bath zoomies (the best), and help them execute any final touches desired. (Bows anyone?) Note that spa day should always be an adult-supervised activity. Find the basics here.
10. Scrapbook a Pup’s Life
Pull out all of those scrapbooking materials you’ve been saving for “someday” and help your child create a book that captures their best friend’s life-to-date. Include pictures, report cards from petsitters, and adoption paperwork. Capture your children’s’ favorite stories and memories about your dog and get ask questions like: What is your favorite memory? What is the funniest thing she does? How did she get her name? Be sure to make this a dynamic project so you capture all of your pup’s life stages.
Check back early next week for more details about these additional activities and more:
Watch the feature-length dogumentary film “Pick of the Litter” which features Guide Dogs for the Blind and explains how organizations prepare guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Read books about dogs – find the perfect one at librarydogs.com.
Paint a portrait of your dog