The best Christmas gift for a dog, is the gift of your time. Dogs really do not care how much money you stuff into their Kongs; they are more interested in spending time with you, playing fun Christmas games, eating yummy Christmas cakes and cookies, and having a fun Christmas trip to the park.
Therefore, spend some quality time with your dogs during the Christmas holidays. In fact, the best gift of all, is if they get to spend time with you all year round.
Below are some fun activities to enjoy together with your dogs during the Christmas holidays. Have lots of fun and a very Merry Christmas to you.
1. Fun Christmas Games
Hide behind the Christmas tree.
Hide and seek is always a fun game and a very good training exercise. First, get some really high priority, smelly, treats. Get your friend to distract your dog, and hold him in position while you go hide behind the Christmas tree. Then, call your dog to you (e.g. [Name], Home), while waving a smelly treat around. When your dog finds you, be really happy to see him. Ask him for a Sit, and give him several smelly treats for being such a clever boy.
If your dog is disinterested in looking for you, then try using higher priority treats. Alternatively, let him loose earlier, while you are still running towards the Christmas tree. You can also try leaning out of your hiding place, and encourage your dog to come to you with claps and whistles. Only use his name and command ([Name], Home) once though.
Run around the Christmas tree.
My dogs also like running around the Christmas tree. You can lead your dog on a merry chase around the house, that ends up around the Christmas tree. Make sure to treat him during the chase, so that he is rewarded for following you. Do not let him get too excited during the chase, i.e. no nipping, jumping, or any mouthing. To prevent over-excitement, stop often, and do some simple obedience exercises (e.g. Sit) in between chase sessions.
Opening Christmas presents.
Opening presents is often the highlight of Christmas for everyone. Opening presents is also one of my dogs’ favorite activity. Get some plain cardboard boxes. Make sure it is only cardboard, and there are no staples, tape, or other foreign objects. Empty cereal boxes work well. Put some yummy pieces of food inside the box, and fold it close. Then give the food-present to your dog to tear open. Make sure your dog does not eat any of the cardboard. If he is a cardboard eater, then this game is not for you. You may also wrap the box up for a more festive look, but only do this if you are sure that your dog is uninterested in eating the wrapping. Swallowing tape, paper, or cardboard is not good for your dog’s digestive system.
If you do not have any boxes available, you can also put some food in some paper, and bunch up the paper into a present-ball. Your dog will have a lot of fun tearing open that present. No paper eating allowed.
Some other fun games to play with your dog include tug-of-war, soccer, catch, and much more.
2. Yummy Christmas Cakes & Cookies
Christmas is a time for yummy cakes and cookies. My dogs’ favorite cake is peanut butter and carrot cake. Note that many dogs are allergic to wheat. If your dog is allergic to wheat, then make sure to replace the wheat flour with rice flour. Non-wheat flour works best when blended; so I use 1 teaspoon guar-gum, 2 tablespoons of potato starch, and fill the rest of the cup with rice flour. The guar-gum is important because it acts as a binding agent, in replacement of the wheat gluten that exists naturally in whole wheat flour.
My dogs also enjoy Christmas turkey and turkey-ham. I do not give them regular ham because it contains too much fat and too much salt. Too much salt can be harmful to dogs, and can cause kidney failure. Do not put any gravy or any seasonings on the turkey you plan to give to your dog. Make sure that nothing contains onions, which are poisonous to dogs.
Do not feed your dog too many cakes, cookies, turkey, or other human food. To ensure that they have a balanced diet, it is important that the bulk of their daily food rations consists of their regular kibble or other balanced homemade meal. Your dog will get digestive problems if you feed him too much rich food that he is not used to. If this happens, much of the food will end up as “liquid, smelly, mess” on the floor. Feeding your dog too much will also cause obesity and other health issues. Make sure that none of the food contains ingredients that may be poisonous to dogs.
3. Christmas Outdoors
My dogs love going for Christmas hikes. Actually, they love going for hikes all of the time. For winter-time hikes, make sure that your dog is protected from the cold, especially if they have very short coats (e.g. Greyhounds, Whippets, Chinese Crested). Get a nice, warm coat, that will keep your dog warm during walks. If your dog still gets cold, try getting some shoes to protect his feet. Some dog breeds have double coats, and can naturally withstand the cold (e.g. Siberian Huskies, Samoyed, Shiba Inu). Make sure to dry off your dog when you get home if it is raining or snowing outside. Remember to keep yourself warm as well. Nobody wants to catch a cold during the holidays.
The best part of Christmas is when everyone is resting in front of the fireplace, after a fun-filled day. Remember that dogs are great for warming hands and feet!
Finally, if your dog has been a very good boy, and you think he deserves some extra Christmas presents; here are some fun toys that my dogs enjoy. Get interactive toys for your dog, so they will be busy and mentally engaged when home alone. Making your dog work for all of his food, is a good way to keep him busy, and out of mischief.