Skip to main content

6 fun holiday activities you can do with your dog to create lasting memories

The holiday season is a little more magical with a dog. Everyday occurrences, like car rides or your arrival home at the end of the workday, cause your pup’s face to light up brighter than the tree at Rockefeller Center. The holidays, though, offer a chance to introduce your pet to new experiences.

Starting new traditions or organizing a cool outing with your dog can make your pup even happier and serve as a bonding experience. The opportunities are endless, and there’s a fun fit for any type of pet, from animals who crave adventure to those who love snuggles.

If you’re looking to make a memory this year, consider one or more of these fun holiday activities for dogs.

dog waiting for treat by tree
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Prepare homemade dog treats

Though Christmas cookies have a bit too much sugar and spice (and potentially chocolate) to be good for dogs, pet parents can still whip up something extra-special for their fur baby. Amateur dog-treat chefs can get inspiration from cookbooks under $20. There are also tons of pet-safe recipes on the Internet, from easy gingerbread cookies to six-ingredient pumpkin and peanut butter biscuits. Avoid recipes with added sugar, xylitol (found in sugar-free items), and chocolate, as these can be health hazards for dogs. You might want to first clear any recipe with your vet.

Get Santa photos taken

Those Santa mall photos aren’t just for little kids. Dogs may want to ask Kris Kringle for a new toy or treat for Christmas, too, and the snap can leave you with a memory and fodder for your holiday cards. Some malls host pet nights, and your local Petco, PetSmart, or animal shelter may also offer them. Often a portion of the proceeds goes to a worthy cause. Remember, you know your dog better than anyone. If a pup has stranger anxiety, this activity may not be fun. It may be the perfect day trip for social butterflies, though.

woman petting dog by tree
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Stage a photo shoot with matching PJs

If Santa photos are no-gos, you can still get photos you’ll treasure forever. Many stores, like Kohl’s, and vendors on Etsy make matching PJ sets for humans and dogs. Purchase a design you like, and hire a local photographer or ask a talented friend to snap photos of you and your best friend. You also can set a timer on your smart phone and place the phone a stand to take some snaps.

Watch holiday movies together

Some pets are more low-key and crave snuggles more than anything. These pets are the perfect companions for a relaxing night of self-care. Pick out a few of your favorite holiday movies, grab a homemade treat you whipped up for your dog and a bowl of popcorn for you, and chill on the couch together. Cuddling underneath a warm, holiday-themed blanket can up the festive factor without much fuss, especially if the weather outside is frightful.

Shop together

Shopping for your pet’s holiday gifts can be more fun if she’s around to offer opinions. Many pet stores allow dogs to walk the aisles on a leash. Take your pup with you and see what toys she loves most. You may even be able to let her taste test some treats. The best part? She’ll still be surprised and superexcited if you choose to wait until Christmas to give the gifts.

Go on a holiday light tour

Dogs who love car rides or long walks and are mesmerized by lights will love an evening of exploring your hometown. Many neighborhoods get all dressed up for Christmas with colorful light displays, sometimes set to music. Such decorations and displays can be fascinating for dogs. Touring them is a great way to beat back winter-induced cabin fever. Plus, if you’re walking, that can help both of you enjoy some physical activity.

Happy holidays!

Dogs make every day a little brighter, so paying it forward by making the holiday season extra magical for them offers them a well-deserved treat. The best holiday activities for active dogs may include going on a long winter walk together or hitting pet-friendly shops so that they can pick their own stocking-stuffers. Pups who prefer more low-key bonding will probably love snuggling with you on the couch for a holiday movie marathon. Most dogs will relish homemade taste treats. Consider making Christmas cards cuter by getting Santa photos taken with your pet or organizing a fun photoshoot with matching PJs.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Why do dogs have whiskers? These small features play a huge role
These hairs serve a large and important purpose
A brown puppy looks up, with sunlight shining on their whiskers

If you've ever noticed those extra-long hairs on your dog's face, it's only normal to wonder what they are and what they do. Whether your buddy visits the groomer or gets their fur brushed at home, it's hard not to notice these hairs. Dogs can turn away and even paw at their face when they're touched, so they surely serve a purpose. As it turns out, they're actually dogs' whiskers! But why do dogs have whiskers?
These whiskers, or vibrissae, are important for the way dogs sense the world around them. They provide all kinds of sensory information through nerve endings under the skin, but how exactly do they work?

Do all dogs have whiskers?

Read more
Why do dogs hump everything? You might be surprised
Here's what's behind this shocking canine behavior
A brown Vizsla dog's portrait in front of a black background

Every dog owner will be embarrassed by their pup at least once or twice, but nothing compares to the shame of catching your dog in the act of humping. Whether they're going to town on another dog, another person, or even nothing at all, it's easy to understand why you'd want to learn more about this behavior. The sooner you know how to respond to this lewd act, the sooner it can stop.
Questions like, "Why do dogs hump?' and "How can I stop my dog from humping?" will one day be nothing more than a memory. This impolite habit can be unlearned -- though often not as quickly as it's learned -- with some time, redirection, and a few well-timed distractions. Keep on reading to learn more about the humping habit and what you can do to prevent it.

Why do dogs hump other dogs?

Read more
Dog body language decoded: This is why dogs pull their ears back
These feelings could cause your dog to change their ear position
Dog perks his ears up in anticipation

Animals communicate with us in numerous ways by vocalizing, posturing, and moving, to name just a few. When it comes to our dogs, most owners understand what it means when they wag their tails in joy or bark at the delivery person (we're not sure if this is joyful as well). However, fewer pet parents have a clear idea of what different ear positions, like dogs' ears back, are trying to say to us humans and what to look out for.

Learning to decode your pup's feelings from their ears can help you understand your furry friend and give you a good sense of their needs. This is what it can mean when your dog's ears are back.
Why do dogs pull their ears back?

Read more