The holidays are an amazing opportunity to spend some quality time with our loved ones. Friends and family come together for food, gifts, and holiday cheer. However, there’s one part of the family you may not have thought of when it comes to holiday activities—your pets!
Our pets may sometimes have a difficult time during the holidays, with all the guests coming and going, new and interesting smells, and tempting (but dangerous) decorations. But this time of year is also a fantastic opportunity to enjoy our time with our pets, and find new ways to include them in the holiday fun! So here are a few things to do with your pet during the holidays that you should try.
1. Take a walk with your dog to check out the decorations in your neighbourhood
Just like with people, dogs can be completely mesmerized by some of the amazing lights and decorations we see in our neighbourhoods this time of year. If there are any houses in your neck of the woods that go all out with the decorations each year, take your furry friend for a stroll past them and see what they think! Just bear in mind that it might be too cold for a long trek, so try to keep it local, or else make the investment in some protective gear like booties and a jacket for your dog.
2. Take your pet outside to play in the snow
One of the most fun parts of the winter season is getting out in the snow (if there is any) and having fun. And guess what? Many pets love it just as much as we do.
Whether you have a dog, cat, or rabbit, there’s often a way to safely get them out into the snow and let them experience it for themselves. For dogs, it couldn’t be simpler—many dogs just love playing in the snow, so just head to your favourite snow-covered park, walking trail, or backyard, and watch them have a blast!
Not all animals like the snow, and that’s okay too. It’s worth a shot, but if they’re simply not having fun out there, don’t force them! Who can really blame an animal for preferring the coziness of the indoors anyway?
Indoor cats and rabbits should not be taken out as this can be scary and cold for them.
3. Come up with some festive games to play with your pet!
Who doesn’t love a little holiday fun? Since winter usually comes with inclement weather, it’s a good idea to do what you can to help keep your pet active, even if you’re not going on your usual amount of long walks, hikes, or runs through the park. One great way to do this and keep them entertained at home at the same time is by creating fun little games to play with your furry friend!
Every pet is different, so it may take a little experimentation to find an indoor activity that your pet really loves. With that said, here are a few ideas to try!
Indoor game ideas for dogs:
- Tug-of-war. Just be sure to pick a toy that won’t hurt your dog’s teeth, and let them win at least half the time!
- Name your dog’s toys. Then, teach your dog to grab certain ones by name. Be sure to reward them with a dog-friendly Christmas treat when they bring the right ones!
- Hide and seek. Your dog will need to know how to ‘stay’ for this one, but it can be lots of fun if they’re quick to learn! Just have them stay somewhere in the house, find a hiding spot, and wait for them to find you. You might need to call their name once or twice to help them along, and be sure to give them lots of love when they do find you so that they start getting the hang of the game.
Indoor game ideas for cats:
- Christmas gift puzzle. With a few minutes and some DIY skills, you can turn a simple cardboard box, some cat toys, and their favourite treats into a fun, stimulating, holiday puzzle! Tape the box closed, then cut a few different sized and shaped holes into the top. Fill the box with little Christmas treats, such as treats, catnip, and little toys, and get their attention. Once they realize what’s in the box, they’ll stop at nothing to get everything out!
- Fetch. Sure, it’s easier to teach a dog to fetch, but did you know that cats can do it too? If you’re stuck inside on a cold winter day, simply grab (or make) a toy filled with catnip, and get your cat’s attention with it. Get them excited, then toss it! Your cat will run after it and probably attack it, but once they’ve had their fun, try to get them to bring it back to you! It may take a while, but most cats will eventually learn that the game only continues when they bring it back.
4. Have a small party for your pets
We all love having a holiday party with our friends, but what about our pets? Consider getting them involved in the festivities by hosting a pet party! If you know a few other people with pets (who get along well with yours), invite them all over for a little get-together. Have everyone bring their own take on a pet-friendly treat, or do a secret Santa with pet toys and treats! This is a great way to get your pets and fellow pet-owners in on the festivities, and it’ll guarantee this year is one to remember.
5. See if your pet likes wearing a festive costume
Bearing in mind that not all pets love wearing costumes, putting one on your pet can be a great way to get them looking festive—and adorable. Some pets really love the extra attention that comes with dressing up, while some might run away and hide for the evening if you so much as try to put one on them. So be sure to pay attention to how your pet is feeling when doing a costume, and work your way up. Start with just a little vest, bowtie, or bandanna, and work your way up to the hats, headbands, sweaters, and booties as they get more comfortable.
At a time of year where it’s all about celebrating togetherness, it’s vital that we remember our pets as well! As cherished members of the family, they deserve to be included in the joy and cheer, so try one of these ideas this year!
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