When we think of Christmas, it’s all about the food. But too many treats can cause a host of health problems for both humans and dogs. So this festive season we’re sharing ways to spoil your dog without turning to the dog biscuits and Christmas dinner scraps.
Why you should spoil your dog without food
An occasional treat for your dog does them no harm, just to be clear. And there’s no doubt that food-based treats are valuable. They have a big role to play positive reinforcement dog training, as well as in bonding with your pup, and are good for getting their attention when needed.
However, treats are only one of many ways to spoil your dog. When you use them too much, or exclusively even, your dog can suffer. Not only will your dog expect to get treats all the time (we don’t do it with children without suffering the spoiled-kid consequences so why dogs?), pet obesity is a growing concern in Australia.
Your dog being overweight and/or not getting the right amount of nutritious foods can lead to all kinds of problems including diabetes in dogs and cats.
Plus, extra weight means extra strain on organs and joints. If you’ve a dog prone to IVDD or hip dysplasia, for instance, then keeping them trim could help them stay pain-free and happy. The same goes for dogs prone to heart or lung problems. Limiting treats helps keep their weight in check and supports their health.
And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that plenty of Christmas treats and presents are actually toxic or hazardous to our dogs. From chocolate through to poisonous-yet-common plants, it’s easy to inadvertently give your dog access to something that could make them sick over Christmas.
Ways to spoil your dog without food this Christmas
In between the occasional food treat, here are some other easy ways to spoil your dog this Christmas. Without polishing off the cookie jar!
Your dog will love them just as much as a piece of ham or a biscuit, and you might even find yourself feeling fitter and healthier as a result. After all, those five extra mince pies aren’t going to burn themselves off.
Playing a game is a good way to spoil your dog
One of the best ways to spoil your dog is with a good game. Whether you spend half an hour throwing a ball or even turn their usual food treats into a scavenger hunt game, your dog will get some extra stimulation and exercise.
If you’re playing with them directly, you’ll both benefit from some of those feel-good endorphins that come along with exercise and the great outdoors. Which means you’ll bond even closer with your pup!
Give them more pats and cuddles
You probably do this all the time anyway, but some dogs just can’t get enough scratches and attention. One of the easiest ways to spoil your dog over Christmas is just giving them a little extra love.
Did they come when you called them or behave really well while you ate? Give them plenty of strokes, pats, scratches, and praise to spoil them a little bit more than usual.
Spoil your dog with a walk or outing
If you have the kind of dog who gets excited when you break out the dog leash or utter the word “walk” then an extra stroll or a trip somewhere new can be a lovely way to spend time together and spoil your dog.
Most socialised dogs enjoy outings too. Maybe you could take them to a park, a river, or even on holiday? Your dog might have the Christmas of their dreams if you take them along on a roadtrip or a weekend away from the hustle and bustle.
And on hot days, a swim is the best way to cool down. Just make sure you know how to keep your dog safe at the beach (or lake, creek or similar) before you go and catch some waves.
Buy them a toy
Not all fun and games require a human. And what better way to spoil your dog than with a toy they can play with when you’re occupied? One option is a good robust chew toy like a KONG, which is great for busy dogs and destructive chewers. Plus, you can use it for treats or mealtimes to make food go further and keep them entertained for longer.
Dogs who aren’t big chewers might prefer something like a soft plush toy to cuddle and carry around. And some dogs want things like balls or rope toys that they can shake, chase, drop, and play with. You know your dog’s preferences best.
You can even have a special toy you bring out when you leave your dog alone over Christmas… Like when you go out to lunch or to see family or head out for a party with friends. If it’s something they love, your dog might even look forward to you leaving – sorry, human! But at least you won’t have to worry about pet separation anxiety posing a problem.
Insurance for Christmas nightmares
If something does go wrong over Christmas, and your dog breaks into the chocolate stash or picks a fight with the wrong dog at the park, a pet insurance policy is right there. It can help alleviate the financial and emotional stress.
With a policy to help you cover the bills for consultation and treatments, you can get vet care pets deserve. And that’s the ultimate way to spoil your dog over Christmas, surely?