During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, don't forget to share the happy spirit with your canine companion!
Here are some creative ideas from AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer Christie Canfield on making your dog a part of the holiday celebrations:
Make Homemade Holiday Dog Cookies
This simple recipe is good year-round, but by cutting it into holiday shapes, you’ll give your pets a sweet and safe seasonal treat. Plain unsweetened yogurt can be put on the top as “icing.”
Check out more fun and easy homemade recipes here.
Play Hide and Seek With Your Dog
Now that you have special holiday cookies just for your favorite friend, play games together. For one game, your dog will use his communication skills. The other requires memory skills. Both are fun and mentally challenging for your dog.
Communication: Hide treats while the dog is in another room. Bring the dog to the room and have him find the treats by following your pointing gesture.
Memory: Hide treats while the dog is watching. Then remove your dog from the room for a short time. Return to the room and see if your dog can find all of the treats he saw you hide.
Watch this Newfie and his owners play hide and seek.
Puzzle Games With Your Dog
When you are busy decorating the tree, baking cookies, or wrapping gifts, keep your dog occupied with these puzzle games.
The Bowl Game: Place a treat under an upside-down plastic or stainless-steel bowl. Let him see you hide a treat under the bowl on the floor. Tell him to “take it,” then sit back and watch him figure it out. Note: For very small or timid dogs, begin with small disposable plastic cups to set them up for success. As they get better, make the cups/bowls bigger or heavier.
Muffin Tin Game: Place treats in muffin slots and cover them with a ball or toy.
Nesting Treats: Use plastic storage bowls that nest inside each other, either the same size or large to small. Place a treat in the bottom container, then place the second container on top. Continue layering treats and containers, and include one treat in the top. Open the container to get your dog started. Be sure to do this while you supervise, so you can make sure your dog does not try to eat the plastic containers.
Go for a Winter Walk
Going to check out your neighbors’ holiday decorations? Bring the dog! He'll appreciate the time he gets to spend with his family.
Relax With Your Dog
After a tiring day of shopping, you and your dog could both benefit from some relaxing downtime together. A calm petting session of 20 minutes is proven to significantly decrease heart rate and blood pressure and increase output of the hormone oxytocin (related to attachment and love), not only in the human, but also in the dog.
For more ideas on maximizing your relationship with your dog and creating an individualized training program, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline. This training telephone service provides support seven days a week from our team of professional dog trainers.