For many, the days between The 4th Thursday in November and the 1st of January, bring up feelings of gratitude and desire to give gifts to our dogs. I think one of the most under marketed gifts we can give to our dogs (and people) is the gift of time, so without further ado here is a 2019 Dog Gift Guide where you don’t have to spend a dime.
8 (Free) Gifts Your Dog Will Love:
1. Morning Exercises – grab a handful of treats, a happy attitude, and practice obedience cues. Going through the paces of sit, down, stand, targets, back up, spin, hi five, stay will not only help your dog’s cue responses but can also help with their body awareness and muscle development. If you’re really into it, do the cues along with your dog so you both get your morning exercises in
2. A Walk in their Favorite Place (without your phone) – get outside and walk with your dog. Just you, your dog and the great outdoors. Some dogs like to walk in the park, others in the neighborhood and some prefer to stay within the comforts of your yard. Take a walk together, smell the smells, see the sights, feel the earth.
3. Undivided hang out time – spend some quality time hanging out with your dog. No phone, no TV, no tablet, no distractions. Sit on the dog bed together, or on the couch. If your dog likes petting, stroke them. Don’t forget to remind your dog they are the best dog in the world and you can’t believe how lucky you are to have such cuteness in your life!
4. Play a Game Together – What’s your dog’s favorite game? Play it with them. Maybe that’s hide and seek, or fetch, or tug, or sniff, or run around like a goof. Either way, get involved and play together.
5. Get Creative – Many dog’s enjoy novelty, so a great gift to your dog can be that of a creative new activity or game. Maybe it’s a new trick you decide to learn together, or a game you invent (Zora enjoys our invented game that involves the JAWs theme song and her stuffed fish toy). Reality is, you can be as ridiculous as you both care to be since it’s just you and your dog having fun
6. Sing to them – Does your dog have their own song yet? Assuming yes, sing it to them. If no, make one up (or modify a known song. One of Tom’s is to the tune of “Baby Beluga”). If you can’t carry a tune, you might have a dog who doesn’t mind (or you might have a dog who decides to leave the room, everyone’s a critic after all 😉 and in which case tell them a story instead).
7. Listen to Them – We often get caught up in talking to or at our dogs that we forget to give the gift of listening and observation. Do you know how your dog likes to be touched? Have you observed how your dog lies down? How do you know if your dog likes something or not? Spend some quiet time getting to really know your dog and what they like and don’t like.
8. Commit to Learning to “Speak” Dog – thankfully there are many great (often free) resources on dog body language, evidence based practices, canine cognition, etc on the web (IAABC.org is a great place to start). One of the best gifts we can give our dogs is the commitment to learn about them, value and love them for being dogs, and set aside the common cultural myths that are so often to our dog’s detriment (reality is: Lassie was a fictitious character, most dogs don’t enjoy being hugged or picked up, growling is not a bad thing, muzzles are a life saving tool, baby’s sitting on dog’s isn’t cute, and the list continues from there).
And remember these are gifts we can give our dogs year round! Don’t under estimate the joy that can be had with gifts of time and attention.