What makes your dog tick? Is it a long walk, a tug of war session, or maybe running around the backyard with a four-legged friend? When the holidays hit, it can be hard to make sure to involve Fido in the festivities, especially when some of the celebrations will not be pet-friendly. So, what’s a dog lover to do? Find out what makes your dog the tail-wagging, tongue flapping, happiest version of himself, and make sure to plan plenty of it over the next couple of months.
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
Take him along. Have you ever gotten to the end of your day and realized your dog spent more time in his crate than he did out and about? Me too. Next time, let him ride along. Most dogs love a car ride--wind blowing their faces, smells in the air, lots to look at. It’s almost as good as a long walk. Almost. Worried about leaving your dog in the car while you shop? Shop at pet-friendly stores (many hardware stores welcome pets), or take a friend along who can play with your pet outside while you run in.
Reserve a day at a doggy daycare. I have a friend who swears by a local dog daycare here in my hometown. She says her dog has a blast and when he comes home he’s happily exhausted. My family has used a doggy daycare that sends us a report and pictures throughout our pup’s stay so we can see the evidence of her amazing time. Boarding is not just for when you’re traveling. It can also be a welcome change for a pooch who is spending too much time alone while you’re prepping for the holidays.
Set up a playdate. One advantage to this one is that it is totally FREE. Just call a neighbor who has a fence, or invite your neighbor’s dog over to your own fenced in yard, and enjoy!
Catch up on the weekends. If you have a particularly busy week ahead of you, bookend the week with weekends full of playing with your dog. Go for long walks, visit a dog park, and play some fetch.
Make eye contact with your dog. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth in England conducted a study to determine if dog’s facial expressions changed when their owner gave them attention. The study found that when his owner is looking at him, a dog showed more facial expressions than when the owner’s back is to the dog. According to Dr. Juliane Kaminski, a dog cognition expert who led the study, "This goes against a long-standing hypothesis which claims that animal facial expressions are just involuntary reflexes in response to being excited." Eye contact truly does make a difference to a dog’s overall disposition.
Cuddle at night. One of my husband’s favorite things to do when we’re watching TV at night is to lay on the floor next to our dog and pet her. Petting your dog while you are doing something mindless like watching TV is an easy way to show affection toward your dog and to spend time with him.
The good news is, there are perks for you too! Allen R. McConnell, PhD, professor of psychology at Miami University, has conducted research that shows that pet owners are generally better off than non-owners. McConnell’s studies show that, in general, pet owners have a healthier heart, lower blood pressure, and better connection with others. Now, that’s something to paws and celebrate this holiday season!