Have some fun and plan the next 25 days of Christmas activities with your dog. The holiday season and winter can be stressful for you and your dog, so the only rule to finishing this dog advent calendar is to have FUN!
You can download our 2021 dog advent calendar to keep track of your progress.
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1. Make a dog-themed craft
Too many creative ideas for dog crafts, so I saved them to my Pinterest Board. Make sure to follow Rescue Dogs 101 as I will continually be adding new crafts.
Here are a few of my favorite:
- Dog treat jar
- Dog treat bag top art
- Paw print wreath
- Footprint puppy
- Paper bag puppy
- Paw print ornaments
2. Teach your dog a new trick
Yes you can teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs are smart, they can learn at any age. Teach your pup a new trick and have fun with it! Some ideas are: wave, dance, roll over or sit pretty.
3. Make a frozen doggy treat
Dog treats with pumpkin or apple are not only healthy for your dog, they will love how yummy they are. Try my Frozen Dog Treats with Pumpkin recipe or make your own.
4. Play enrichment games
Mental exercise is just as important and physical exercise for your dog. Playing the muffin/ball game, puzzles, even an obstacle course are all fun ideas. We love taking empty Amazon boxes, toss in some crumbled paper and treats, and have the dogs find the treats. They go crazy over this game. Here are 11 Fun Enrichment Game ideas.
5. Play a game of hide-n-seek
Hide and seek may be a great children’s game, but is also a lot of fun for your dog! If you have kids, you can kill two birds with one stone with this one! Have your children hide and the dog find them. If you don’t have another human to play with, then your dog will need a good sit/stay command. Have your dog stay and go hide, yell out your release word and wait for your dog to find you.
6. Make a homemade dog toy
Your dog doesn’t care how much his toys costs, in fact it’s usually the empty box or water bottle they’d prefer to play with. We started making our own fleece tug toys several years ago and now it has become my daughters passion project and she has her own Etsy Shop now.
Some ideas are:
- Fleece tug toys
- Plastic water bottle inside an old sock
- T-shirt tugs
- Denim plush toys
- Snuffle matt
7. Take a trip to a pet-friendly store together
I was surprised at how many stores allow you to bring your dog with. Here is a list of stores I know of, but always confirm with your local store as each may have their own pet policy.
- Pet Stores such as Petco, PetSmart, Mounds and more
- Home Depot
- Tractor Supply Co
- The Apple Store
- Bass Pro Shops
- Barnes and Noble
- JoAnne Fabrics
8. Go for a winter hike
Don’t let the cold stop you from enjoying the outdoors, but of course always protect your dogs paws in extreme cold and be watchful of the temperature. Take a hike on your favorite trail in the snow to make it an entirely new experience.
9. Have a veggie taste-testing party together
Most fruits and vegetables are healthy for both you and your dog. Make a plate of carrots, celery, cucumbers, apples and bananas and share with your dog. Experiment with which ones are his favorite and which he refuses to eat. Here is a complete list of foods your dog can and cannot eat.
10. Watch a holiday movie and snuggle
Some movies ideas:
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
- Lady and the Tramp
- A Dog Named Christmas
- Santa Paws
- The Dog Who Saved Christmas
11. Teach your dog how to unwrap a gift
If you want your dog to be able to unwrap his gifts on Christmas morning, practice showing how to do it a couple weeks before. Wrap some boxes with treats and help him by starting a corner of the paper. Once he realizes there’s something yummy inside he should figure it out rather quickly.
12. Groom your dog
Spoil your dog and give them a spa day. A nice warm bath, a brushing, nail trim and dental chew to finish it off. She will be all spruced up for the holidays.
13. Dress up your dog in a holiday outfit
I’m not usually one to dress up my dogs, but these Frisco Naughty/Nice Dog & Cat Knitted Hats are adorable. Maybe your dog would prefer a sweater or bandana, either way, make sure they are comfortable.
14. Make a dog treat jar
15. Set up a holiday photo shoot for your dog
No matter what holiday you celebrate, have fun with this. What special background or props can you use? Or how about these adorable matching PajamaGrams for the entire family… dogs and cats too! Make sure you have plenty of treats and a helper is nice too. If you want to be in the photo with your dog, consider a tripod.
16. Give your dog a massage
Massage can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase circulation, decrease pain, and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. The AKC website explains How to Massage Your Dog.
17. Have a photo taken with Santa
Not all dogs will be okay with the guy in a big red suit. So if this is your dog, try to find a statue or blow up Santa. Be creative… it doesn’t have to be scary. We found a Santa statue at our local HomeDepot store.
18. Play with your dogs favorite toy
Our dogs favorite toy is always a ball of any kind. For a long time it was these ChuckIt squeaky balls, but then I found these Kong rubber balls on sale and they are the new favorite. If your dog doesn’t have a favorite, then pull out a toy they haven’t played with for a while and get them excited about it again.
19. Play in the snow together and build a snow dog
The dogs LOVE to play in the snow. Each year on the first snow fall, they rush out the door like little kids, running and romping in the fresh snow… it makes all the cold weather so worth it to see how happy they get.
This year be creative and build a snow dog that resembles your dog… or any dog. Have fun!
Born and raised in the Midwest, I forget sometimes that not everyone has the pleasure to experience snow. So if you live in an area that doesn’t get snow, then go play in the sand and build a sand dog! Here are some dog shaped snowmen to inspire you.
20. Explore a new walking path together
Dogs love to use their nose. Find a new path to walk that your dog has never been to before. Your main agenda is to let her sniff til her heart is content. Don’t worry how far you get. You will be amazed at how the mental stimuli of a new place tires them out more than if you walked twice as far.
21. Make a paw print ornament or painting
22. Donate to your local shelter or rescue
Remember how happy you were to find and adopt your rescue dog? The holiday season is a great time to thank the shelter or rescue and make a monetary donation or donate your time.
23. Read a holiday story book to your dog
It’s been proven that reading to your dog not only soothes the dog, but also the human. It’s a great time to relax and bond with your dog.
Make sure to get the kids involved, it’s a super confidence builder for them too! One of my favorite holiday story books is The Dogs of Christmas.
24. Make sweet potato treats
Sweet potatoes are a healthy snack for both you and your dog. I received this dehydrator for my birthday this year and I am loving it! I made these Autumn Comfort Sweet Potato Chips for myself, but the dogs enjoy them too!
25. Take a holiday-light walk
Take a walk around the neighborhood or drive to a professional holiday light show with your dog. Enjoy all the lights together and let your dog stop and smell all the new smells.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season no matter what you celebrate. Stop and be thankful for what you have, at the very least you have a dog that loves you… and after these 25 days you will have an even stronger bond together.
Don’t forget to fill your dogs stocking!
Hosting a holiday party
Make sure your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t jump on your guests.
Traveling for the holidays?