Celebrating the holidays just isn’t the same unless you include your fur babies. But finding ways to incorporate your pups into the festivities without stressing them out can be difficult.
The stress of having a Christmas tree in the house alone can be enough to send even a well mannered dog over the edge. All those smells, food, and people can be enough to overstimulate most dogs. That’s why planning ahead with a few dog-friendly activities can be good for both you and your dog.
10 Ways to Celebrate Christmas with Your Fur Babies
- Look at Christmas lights. My dog loves a car ride, and going after dark to look at all those sparkly lights in the neighborhood is a favorite holiday activity for us both. We also like to take at least one walk in our neighborhood after dark to enjoy our neighbor’s decorations in an area my dog is familiar with so there’s less stress for her. If she starts to bark at the neighbor’s giant inflatable Frosty, I simply steer her in the opposite direction. Dogs can have a difficult time making sense of some decorations.
- Bake some treats. Holiday treats are indeed the way to my dog’s heart, and baking up human/doggie recipes we can both enjoy means we get to bond in the kitchen while cooking and then again while sampling our yummy creations. While my dog is normally on a Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods diet for dogs, we bend the rules for special occasions like Christmas.
- Share with neighbors. After we’ve baked up a storm in the kitchen, we like to personally deliver a few yummy treats to our doggie friends in the neighborhood (and their pup parents). It gives us a chance to say hello and spend a few minutes with neighbors while hand-delivering a few select Christmas cards to people we’re close with year-round.
- Dress to the nines. Every year at Christmas, I indulge in a little girliness and add a cute bow to my dog’s collar. She’s not really a “dress up” kind of dog, but I think she appreciates a cute Christmas plaid collar as long as it doesn’t interfere with her normal doggie activities. Plus, it looks really adorable in all those candid family snapshots each year.
- Holiday pictures are a must. Getting my crew to sit still and look presentable for a family photo often takes divine intervention, but my dog is one giant ham in front of the camera. At Christmas time, I indulge her inner diva and take lots of holiday pictures to fill our albums with loving memories.
- Read together. We all have our favorite holiday traditions, and in our house, everyone’s favorite is the reading of the Christmas Story. We all snuggle up with hot cocoa around the fire and take time to reflect on why we, as a family, celebrate Christmas. My dog loves to be read to, and having everyone together for this activity makes it one our favorite holiday activities each year.
- Go Christmas caroling. Even if you’re not brave enough to venture outside to sing Christmas carols, you can enjoy them at home. My dog loves to join in and “sing” along with the family. I’m sure the neighbors wish we’d take a few lessons, but since my dog doesn’t mind if I miss a few notes, we just go with it and have a good time. “O Christmas Tree” is an easy one to insert your own custom lyrics if you need a few extra laughs.
- Binge watch holiday shows. All that holiday fuss and the endless holiday party invitations can lead to a hectic December, so it’s nice to take at least one night off and spend the night cuddling in our PJs, eating pizza in bed, and binge watching our favorite holiday shows. My dog loves a good “Netflix and chill” date and I never have to fight her for the remote.
- Wrapping presents. Wrapping presents used to be stressful for me because I never seemed to get the paper straight or the ends came out uneven. But then I had kids and learned that smashing the paper into a ball around the box works, too. We have fun with gift wrapping, and a favorite tradition of ours is to wrap the cat. We have one cat in particular who is very laid-back and loves to lay right in the middle of the paper. We wrap a strip around his belly and take bets on how long it will take for it to fall off. He parades around the house, showing off his new duds until the single piece of tape finally gives with all his cat-antics. Every year, we have pictures of him in his wrapping paper outfit, usually lounging with the dog sporting a Christmas bow or two on her head.
- Plant a memory. Every family celebrates differently, and even if you don’t do Christmas trees or elaborate decorations, the holidays are a great opportunity to make a few memories. One holiday tradition to start is to plant a live Christmas tree every year in your yard and take a family photo with your trees as they grow and change over the years. Our dogs are only with us for a few short years, and having special memories to reflect on make life with dogs that much sweeter.
If your dog is having a difficult time coping with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, try giving her a natural calming supplement, like TruDog’s CALM ME so she can enjoy more of your holiday celebrations this year.