Activities For Dogs On Thanksgiving

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Introduction

Many people consider Thanksgiving Day a special holiday where the whole family pauses to give thanks for all that they have, all that they are, and all who love and cherish them.  This special day also includes the family dog, for those lucky enough to have the love of a canine companion.  Including the family pets in what may be considered the ultimate of family holidays helps further strengthen the bond between all members, including the dog.  Including your dog in on Thanksgiving Day activities is more than ensuring your pooch gets their fair, yet healthy, share of turkey; it's about finding the fun and inclusive activities that will delight your dog as much as you.

Television Time

Popular
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Any Day
Free
Easy
2 - 4 hrs
Items needed
Over the air television
Activity description
The television is on all day for many people on Thanksgiving.  Traditions quickly arise with mornings spent in and out of the living room, watching the famous Macy's Day Parade and later, followed by American football.  However NBC, the channel that airs the Macy's Day Parade, also airs the famous National Dog Show, held annually on Thanksgiving Day in Philadelphia.  True, your dog may not have the same attention span as you do when it comes to watching the National Dog Show but talking to your dog and getting excited about the other dogs in the show can help get you in the spirit and strengthen your bond with your dog.
Step
1
Turn the television on NBC
NBC has a full day of television entertainment lined up for Thanksgiving Day. Start by tuning into the Macy's Day Parade. Come and go from the living room, or where ever you keep the television but always engage your dog with friendly language. If you decide to stop a while and watch the famous Snoopy float go by, invite your dog to sit in your lap or by your side.
Step
2
Sit for the National Dog Show
Many people come and go during the Macy's Day Parade, and sometimes, a vigilant watcher will call out when a favorite float makes an appearance or when Santa Clause floats down Central Park West. However, the National Dog Show promptly follows the Macy's Day Parade, and this is a perfect opportunity to stop what you're doing and enjoy the canine competition with your doggo. You may have a favorite class you want to see or enjoy the activities the dogs engage in. Either way, talk to your dog and get them excited about the other dogs on television. This is a perfect opportunity to strengthen your bond with your dog because you are in the canine zone, watching the National Dog Show.
Step
3
Follow up exercises
Watching television, dogs or not, is more fun for you than your dog. During television time, you have engaged your dog's attention and excited them with your words. Now it's time to burn off some of that energy. Thanksgiving Day in some parts of the country is cold so you may have to bundle up if you're going outside. If you are staying inside, choose a playtime activity that is not too disruptive but will help your dog burn off some of that excitement, like patty-cake or other "give-paw" games.
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Backyard Football

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Any Day
Free
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Football
Treats
Activity description
Football is a Thanksgiving tradition and many families both watch and play football outside throughout the day.  You can include your dog in this activity very easily, though your dog cannot catch or likely fetch the football.  However, they can have a blast chasing after family members who have the football. Playing football outside with the dog is an activity you can do in all types of weather, though sunny and warm conditions are ideal for tossing the pigskin.  You will also need a football and a few other family members to really enjoy this outdoor activity.
Step
1
Gauge the weather
Tossing the football around is an outdoor activity that you can participate in, in any weather conditions. Sunny, warm days are preferable, but a little bit of rain or snow does not stop many families from this activity. You want to check the weather and prepare for the after activity clean up. If it is raining or looks like rain or snow, prepare with towels, fresh shirts and socks in the mudroom or close to the front dog. This includes reserving towels for your dog, who will most likely be the muddiest of family members.
Step
2
Get your dog excited
Being stuck all day indoors is boring for most dogs and if you're planning to toss the football around outside, get your dog riled up for fun too. It's best to engage with your dog once everyone starts moving towards the door and is ready to start the fun. Use exciting language and tones and show your dog the football. Chances are, your dog already knows this game and is ready to chase whoever has the ball and perhaps make a tackle or two.
Step
3
The chase is on
Once outside, try to encourage your family members to engage with your dog. This will make the game more fun for all family members, including the dog. Your dog will naturally want to chase the person running, who most likely has the football. Most dogs will find the liveliness of the game exhilarating, and they will burn off some of their energy as well as engage their primal chase needs; thereby giving your dog a deep sense of satisfaction as well as bonding. When you’re done with your playtime, reward your dog with a treat or two and tell them how good they are.
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Doggy Feast

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Any Day
Moderate
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Dog safe Thanksgiving delights
Dog bowl
Activity description
Everyone eats well on Thanksgiving Day and many people like to include the family dog in on the tasty delights.  However, some foods are not safe and dogs should not eat high quantities of table food.  That does not mean you cannot let your pooch indulge; only that you must be careful about who gives your dog food, what it is, and how much they can have to eat. Making a special plate for your dog is the better way to go and you can include your dog in on the Thanksgiving Day meal with such a special bowl.  This is a somewhat moderate expense but one your family is already paying for its human members to enjoy.  Additionally, since this is an indoor activity, you don't have to worry about the weather.
Step
1
Talk about table scraps
Your house may be filled with several family members who are visiting or children who delight in giving their table food to the dog. Be sure to talk to everyone about feeding the family dog table scraps or other non-canine food. Not everyone knows that chocolate, onions, alcohol, and other food items may be poisonous to the dog so reassure them that Fido will have their share of turkey and other goodies on this special family day but that only mom, dad, or another designated family member will prepare the dog’s dish.
Step
2
Set aside small treats
The smells and action in the kitchen are enough to drive any dog to beg with their soulful puppy-dog eyes. You do not want to scold the family dog for following their nose into the kitchen. Instead, try to keep them engaged in other parts of the house and offer them bits of special dog kibble or small treats throughout the day to give them a sense of food conquest. Most dogs will not turn down a treat just because it is not the roasting turkey they are drawn to in the kitchen.
Step
3
Prepare a dog-safe meal
As dinner time get close and you are carving the turkey, prepare a small and healthy bowl of table food for your dog. You do not want to overdo it with the people food, especially if your dog is not used to table foods. A moderate bowl served over your dog’s kibble will likely be perfect for your pooch. Focus on dog safe food, such as turkey breast with no fat or bones, green beans, and potatoes. You want to avoid fatty foods, like the turkey skin. The liver and other giblets of the turkey are alright to give your dog in small quantities, if you’re not planning on using these for the gravy. You want to avoid anything made with onions or that is high in sugars or carbohydrates; so turkey stuffing is not a good choice for your dog’s meal. Once you have your dog’s meal prepared, let them indulge but don’t let them have seconds.
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More Fun Ideas...

Family Introductions

Many people invite relatives they do not see often to Thanksgiving dinner.  These people may not know your dog and your dog may be a little shy of them.  Even if no one shy, make introductions and give your guests all the knowledge they need to interact with your dog in a healthy manner.

Run Distraction

Family holidays, especially ones that revolve around food are a lot of fun for your dog.  However, you want to keep your dog out of the kitchen.  The best way to do that is through distraction.  Encourage family members to play with the dog or enjoy lap cuddles in from the television watching the Macy's Day Parade or National Dog Show.

Conclusion

Thanksgiving Day is a family holiday to celebrate the gratitude you feel towards your loved ones as well as the happiness and good fortune you have found in your life.  This special day should always include your dog, who loves you most unconditionally.  From watching the National Dog Show to playing football in the backyard, your dog will be happy to spend their time with you and give you just one more reason to be thankful this year.