5 Ways to Share the Holidays with Your Dog

Indoor and outdoor activities with holiday spirit

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Everybody seems to be a little friendlier, a little happier and… a little busier. The hustle and bustle that comes along with the winter holidays is easy to get caught up in. Finding the perfect Christmas tree, shopping for the perfect holiday gift, decorating your house with overpriced, cringe-worthy décor you wouldn’t wish upon anyone - but somehow cherish for one month ever year. And those are things you mostly enjoy. Then there’s shoveling snow while you watch kids make snowmen, putting up lights while your hands slowly go numb, and driving an hour to visit relatives you forget the names of every year. It’s no wonder by the time the holidays are over, you’re ready for a vacation.

Yet, deep down we know that the memories we make during the holidays are ones we will remember into our old age. And you know what? The same is true for our furry family members. Dogs remember things they do over and over again, even if not the way humans do. They mainly remember the objects and rituals that go along with an activity, which is why they jump up and down with unadulterated excitement when they see you grab their favorite walking leash. So set some time aside this year to start a holiday tradition and create a lasting memory with your pooch – or simply carve out some time to make sure you’re including them in this season of joy. Hang a stocking for them, bake some special holiday treats for them, include them in your holiday photo and of course, buy them the perfect gift.

And then take a little extra time to do something special with them. Here are 5 ideas that we’re confident you and your dog will love.

photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash. Description: boy visiting santa at a mall

1. Photos with Santa – Getting the kids dressed up for their annual photo with Santa is a timeless tradition – the long line, uncomfortable lap-sit and forced smile… so classically perfect. And what better way to tell your fur-baby how much you love them (or at least, that you think of them as your kid!) than getting them dressed in a Holiday Sweater or Flannel for their very own photo with Santa. There are a variety of options for making it more fun for your pooch - such as doing it outside, bringing plenty of their favorite treats (and maybe even slipping one in Santa’s front pocket) and taking it with them. You can also look online to find local shelters or pet stores that are offering dog photos with Santa, as it will give your pup the opportunity to socialize with some other dogs. The experience – and photograph – is one you’ll cherish.

Pro Tips: Take an annoyingly high number of candid photos to make sure you get one you love. And if you’re in the matching mood, grab a pair of matching sweaters, flannels, or pajamas for you and the rest of the family as well – they make for the perfect holiday photo!

Photo by cmophoto.net on Unsplash. Description: christmas market booth at night lit by warm glow of holiday lights

2. Holiday Market – I don’t remember this being a thing when I was a kid, but these days a festive Holiday Market can be found in nearly every town across America. Streets and parking lots have been transformed, with plenty of holiday lights, local crafts and goods – and of course delicious treats for everyone. And that includes your dog. It’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening with your special buddy, while getting some fresh air and far too many calories. Most have pet-dedicated vendors serving treats and toys, or even local pet gear.

Pro Tips: Dress warm – and that includes your dog if they tend to get cold. And bring a bag or wagon to carry any gifts you undoubtedly will purchase.

3. Christmas Tree Farm – This one is my personal favorite. Maybe it reminds me of the movie classic, Christmas Vacation – or maybe I just like the challenge of finding that perfect Christmas tree in an endless field of pines. Either way, it’s an activity that quickly turns into a tradition – and the perfect place for your dog to join in on the holiday fun. Most farms have a variety of activities and experiences alongside the rows of trees, including fires, smores, hot chocolate, local craft-makers and walking trails. And because you can never get enough family photos (although your family can…), it’s the perfect backdrop for a holiday photo. We started this tradition a handful of years ago and look forward to it every year. Of course, it’s also the perfect opportunity to slip on your matching dog and human holiday sweater and let everyone there know you and your dog have the same taste in fashion!

Pro Tips: Bring a leash in case it is busier than expected or you want to go for a longer walk while there. And bring your dog’s favorite toy for playing fetch, as most farms have ample space for your pup to run.

couple and dog running through the snowy woods

4. Winter Hike – If there’s one thing the holidays can bring, it’s the need to get away from it all for a few minutes. Let’s face it, we all could use a little more time away from the lights, the music and the… people. So grab your dog and venture out on a winter hike. Make it more memorable by choosing somewhere you’ve never been before, even if it requires a bit of a drive. It can be a special tradition for you and your pup that you do every holiday, carving out a little special time for them. While we always (or mostly…) promote following local leash laws, look for a spot that you can let your dog run free, off leash. There is nothing better than seeing your dog look back at you and smile as they realize they’re free to run as fast and as far as they want.

Pro Tips: Bring plenty of water (eating snow is not an adequate way to hydrate) and treats that are edible when they’re cold. And avoid any streams, ponds or wet areas. While you may have long, thick boots, your dog doesn’t – and nothing is colder than wet paws in the winter.

couple and their two sharpeis in matching cocoa color terry cloth polos enjoying a beer at a craft brewery

5. Dog friendly brewery or Vacation Rental – While it may be difficult for most of us, let’s all remember to take some time to relax this holiday. There will always be one more gift to buy, one more decoration to put up and one more relative to visit. But you’ll enjoy all of it more if you all carve out some time to sit back and relax with the ones you love, including your dog. One of our favorite ways to relax during the holidays is visiting a local brewery that is dog-friendly. They typically have a laid-back vibe, beverages for everyone and treats for your pup. Look for one you’ve never tried and make an evening out of it by booking a nearby vacation rental. This not only gives you another opportunity to kick your feet up and relax, but it also gives you an excuse to venture a little further out from home.

Pro Tips: Bring plenty of treats in case your destination doesn’t have them – while your dog likely doesn’t drink beer, they wont get bored eating treats. And make sure your Uber or Lyft app is working if you plan to have a more than one drink.

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