Activities For Dogs On Christmas

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Introduction

The end of the year, for most people, is a time of family celebrations and cold weather days.  As a big part of your family, you want to include your dog in on all the festivities and Christmas is no exception.  Chances are, you or the children always remember to get your dog a gift or two to open with the rest of the family on the big day, and you could not imagine your dog anywhere else but in the middle of the living room enjoying all the fun with the family.  However, Christmas is more than just opening presents.  This special holiday is about sharing time and having fun, both inside and outside, with all family members, the dog included.

Christmas Caroling

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Any Day
Free
Normal
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog treats
Book of Christmas songs
Activity description

You have probably yet to meet a dog who did not love going for a walk and what better way to get exercise on Christmas then by bringing joy to others with song, house to house.  Most caroling is done in the evenings when families are home and have already eaten dinner.  It is easy to include your dog in on the caroling by bringing them along.  You will need a few carolers to accompany you and you can easily make it an event for the music-minded people in your community.  Caroling with your dog can be done in any weather, including snowy nights.  These are particularly lovely, given the snow is not falling too hard.  A rainy evening might make caroling house to house more difficult and you may have to find a dry place for a while to sing.  Remember, your dog is out with you and unless you bring a coat, they only have their coats to protect them from the elements; so you will have to plan for and work with the weather.
Step
1
Plan your caroling
Whether you want to go with the family or get a group of friends together, you have to prepare for your caroling event. Most people have a good idea of the types of songs they will sing but getting a few caroling books is helpful for many people as well as some practice before the big night. You will also need to tell your friends and family members about your choice to bring your dog. Other people may also want to bring their dog along, and you should have a good idea of how well your dogs get along together before you commit to caroling.
Step
2
Choose your venue
Perhaps you are planning on going door to door as a traditional caroler. Your dog will enjoy the attention and the walking going house to house, and they may even get a dog treat or two while you snack on a Christmas cookie after your performance. Sometimes, carolers choose to meet in a central location, like the town square or the courthouse lawn, to sing with each other. Your dog may not get as much walking in this case, but they will still enjoy being outside and around all the new smells and sights. Finally, some people like to sing at nursing homes and other senior facilities to bring joy to the elderly on Christmas. If you are considering this option, call ahead and make sure your well-behaved dog is welcome a the facility.
Step
3
Grab the leash and go
Once you have your plan of action and friends and family assembled for the big evening of caroling, grab the leash and get going. Walking to your venue is always preferable, especially if you are planning on being in one spot for the duration of the singing. Your dog will enjoy the walk and use some energy getting to the caroling spot. You should also bring some treats for your dog to keep them focused if they start to lose some of their concentration or desire to wander in another direction.
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Stay Warm

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Puzzle games
Treats or kibble
Balls and indoor toys
Activity description

Christmas time is usually associated with colder weather and sometimes, harsh winter conditions like blizzards make it unreasonable and potentially unsafe to play outside.  Dog owners might find themselves unable to give their dogs the proper outdoor play time at Christmas, but they can still plan on indoor activities.  On Christmas, get your dog a puzzle toy that traps a treat or kibble inside.  The mentally challenging activity will keep your dog's mind sharp and their waistline trim since they will have to figure out how to unlock the treat rather than getting a tasty bit for the sake of getting one.  The weather outside does not matter much for this activity because it is an indoor activity.  Other indoor activities can also include playing with a ball or another indoor chew toy that helps your dog's mind stay active and free from boredom.
Step
1
Gift your dog their puzzle toy
At Christmastime, everyone gets gifts, and this certainly includes the dog. Most family members expect the family pooch to be in the thick of Christmas morning, tearing through the paper and wearing bows on their heads. Family members also expect the dog to have their own gifts and a puzzle toy as well as a new chew toy are great options for indoor boredom during the cold winter’s days. Encourage your dog to open their gifts and play with the toys during family time. This will keep your dog engaged and out of other trouble, such as tearing through the gift wrapping paper and wrestling with your child’s new teddy bear.
Step
2
Set up the puzzle toy
The new puzzle toy you dog opened on Christmas is perfect for those quieter times of the day when your dog might find some other trouble to get into, like the trash or the houseplants. Dogs do things out of boredom and not with malicious intent. The fact may be that your dog cannot be outside to stimulate their minds and satisfy their primal needs. You want to set your dog up with the new puzzle toy before they have a chance to get bored. Regular kibble or an ordinary treat can become a genuinely satisfying adventure for your dog if they have to puzzle out the goodies. Giving your dog their puzzle toy will keep them actively engaged while they discover how to unlock the treats and it will help prevent the unwanted extra weight from developing as they are not getting treats on demand.
Step
3
Indoor ball
Your dog can spend some time with their new puzzle toy on Christmas, but they also need to interact with you. Indoor play, depending on the size of your pooch, can range in type but a gentle game of fetch inside in an open space will help your dog stay active and engaged. Grab a small ball that is appropriately sized for your dog and gently bounce it and toss it around your open space for your dog. Chance are, your dog may want to chase it and chew it. This is alright because your dog is exercising their primal chase and capture needs. Dog are, after all hunters and scavengers of the best kind. Keeping your dog’s mind and body strong during the colder Christmas days will keep them healthy.
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See The Sights

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Car
Leash
Blankets or other protective gear
Activity description

The decorations are some of the best during the Christmas season.  People, businesses, and government buildings spend hours setting up with displays and lights.  Some communities are well known for their Christmas lights, and droves of people walk the streets enjoying the sights.  Other times, houses and decorations are visited all over the community by car.  Most dogs, even the ones who get a little car sick, love rides in the car and would be delighted to enjoy this activity with you.  If you are looking to see the Christmas lights, you have to wait until it is dark outside before you go, but otherwise, you can do this activity in all types of weather.  However, since you may be mostly driving, you always want to make sure the road conditions are safe first.  This activity is relatively close to free but will have a slight expense in fuel costs.  Additionally, if you are planning on doing any walking, you must bring your dog's leash.  

Step
1
Plan your sight-seeing
It is always a good idea to pre-plan your sight-seeing route when you are going outside to view the Christmas lights and decorations. Many government buildings, such as courthouses, have tree-lighting ceremonies during the holidays that you can bring your dog to as well. Make a list of all the places where you can see the decorations of the season and plan accordingly. Community and city walks will require you to bring a leash whereas you want to map out your route for driving through neighborhoods in quest of the ultimate house. If you are planning on driving, always check the forecast and make sure you have enough fuel in your car. As a precaution, always bring your dog’s leash, even if you are not planning on getting out of the car.
Step
2
Practice safety
We love it when our dogs are excited and as thrilling as it is to ride in the car, you don’t want your dog to be too overly excited. When you are ready to get going, try to gently encourage your dog to ride with you rather than use animated and excessively excited tones while getting into the car. This is for both your safety and the safety of your dog. Your dog should also use a pet seat belt and not be free to roam over the car. However, if your dog is a small lap dog, you can have a passenger hold your dog. As a driver, you cannot have your dog on your lap or near you while you are driving. This is a distraction to you and unsafe.
Step
3
Bring a blanket
The car may be warm inside once you get it going and the heat has had a chance to warm up the cabin. However, if you’ve been outside of the car for an hour or so while you walk the neighborhood or the city streets looking at the Christmas lights and decorations with your dog, your dog may be feeling chilly. Unlike you, with your boots and socks, your dog is probably walking around bare-pawed, and they only have their coat to keep them warm. Should it start or snow, your dog might even be a little damp. Make sure you watch for signs of hypothermia and fatigue in your dog and always get them back to the car and warm before it is too late. After your outing, get your dog secured in the vehicle and rub them down with the blanket to help them warm up. You are probably a little chilly too, which means you will want to get home to the warm house and have some hot cocoa.
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More Fun Ideas...

Give the Gift of Obedience

Obedience training is critical for your dog's health and happiness as well as for your family's.  Christmastime is the perfect time of year to visit a trainer and work on training because you will have a lot of indoor time together during the winter.

Bake Treats

One of the hallmarks of Christmastime are the cookies and other baked treats.  While you do not want to feed your dog people treats, you can find some dog treats to make that will be extra special for Christmas.

Conclusion

Christmastime is a magical time of year for many people and including your dog in on some of the season's activities helps your family to strengthen the bond between man and dog.  Activities, though generally indoor bound, can help the family get in the spirit of the season and give your dog a wonderful sense of love and belonging.