How to Include Your Dog in Holiday Festivities

By Ron Ayalon

The Holidays are a special time. Everyone has things that they look forward to as the season approaches, be it gifts, family gatherings, food, or all of the above. With more than enough holiday spirit and good cheer to go around, why should the furrier members of the family be excluded from this fun? Of course, in the current economic state, thriftiness is in your best interest, but that is no reason to exclude Shadow and Samson from the Holiday festivities. Here are a few fun, affordable ways to be your Pooch's secret Santa - or whoever - this year!

Christmas With Samson

A fast, fun, and super affordable option for including your Samson in your family's Christmas activities, and in fact, not only the Christmas holiday, but just about any holiday during the year, is to make him holiday bandanas. Fabric stores like JoAnn's or Hancock have some of the cutest darn seasonal fabrics you will ever see. Buying a foot or so of a holiday fabric of your choosing, then cutting it into a square is all it takes to have an adorable Christmas bandana for your pup. Just tie it around his neck, or pin it to his collar and viola, your pup is the very spirit of the season. If you don't have either store near you, there is always eBay.

Other quick and easy gift ideas include homemade dog cookies or treats, which take far more effort than money, a fleece tie blanket for his crate, or even just good old fashioned rawhide, rope toys, or milk bones. Using the season as an excuse to buy a treat never hurts - just make sure you make it special for Samson, and for you. Putting a box of dog cookies under the tree with a bow on it may not directly affect Samson's enjoyment of said gift, but the inevitable extra love and attention he will earn as a result will not go unnoticed by him.

Hanukkah With Shadow

Hanukkah is a trickier holiday to include your pup in, but accessories and treats are always a safe bet for cheap ways to include your Shadow in holiday fun. Potato-based dog cookies cut in the shape of a menorah or a dreidel will certainly go along with your family's Hanukkah spread. In addition to bandanas, easy-sew doggie dress up ideas include a doggie yamaka, prayer shawl, or "I love Hanukkah" doggie t-shirt. Keeping Shadow close to you during menorah lightings, mealtimes, and any other traditions more specific to your family will help her know that she is part of your family holiday. Make sure she has a place to be and doesn't feel alienated or anxious as a result of unfamiliar routines.

The thing to avoid is letting your pet break rules as an excuse to avoid spending money on their holiday inclusion. This can be something like letting your dog sleep on the couch, when he is not typically allowed on the furniture, or feeding him table scraps, when you're training him not to beg. People think that they are doing something nice for their pets, when really, they are just confusing them. Making an exception doesn't make sense to a dog. He will think that the rule no longer applies, and stress between the two of you will ensue.

The cheapest thing you can give your pet during the Holidays is a lot of extra love. More belly rubs, harder ear scratching, and big hugs. Just like people, the best way to ensure that your dog knows how special he is to your holiday traditions is to give him love.

Ron Ayalon
Article by Ron Ayalon
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