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Home Dog-Friendly Activities Dog-Friendly Holiday Celebrations: Tips, Traditions, and Treats

Dog-Friendly Holiday Celebrations: Tips, Traditions, and Treats

by Dan Turner

Celebrating holidays with our furry friends has become more than just a trend; it’s a way of life for many pet owners. I’ve discovered that including my dog in the festivities makes the holidays more enjoyable and strengthens our bond.

From decking the halls together to preparing pet-safe treats, there’s a whole world of dog-friendly holiday traditions waiting to be explored.

I’ve always believed that the best celebrations are those where everyone, including our four-legged family members, feels included. That’s why I’ve been on a mission to find the most heartwarming and fun dog-friendly holiday celebrations and traditions. Whether it’s a special Christmas morning walk or a Thanksgiving feast that’s safe for pups, these traditions ensure that holiday cheer is shared by all.

Decking the Halls with Dog-Friendly Decor

When it comes to holiday decorating, my motto’s always been “the more, the merrier”—and that includes making sure my furry family members feel just as festive. Over the years, I’ve picked up a pawful of tricks to ensure our holiday decor is not only beautiful but also safe and enjoyable for my dogs. Let’s jump into how I’ve turned our home into a dog-friendly holiday haven.

Safety First
Before the tinsel comes out, I always take a moment to remember what’s pretty to us might be perilous for our pooches. Here’s a quick checklist to dog-proof holiday decors:

  • Avoid Small, Chewable Decorations: Anything that looks like a toy is fair game for my dogs, so I steer clear of small ornaments.
  • Stay Away from Toxic Plants: Mistletoe and poinsettias are festive but not pet-friendly. I opt for faux versions to keep tails wagging safely.
  • Secure the Tree: I make sure our Christmas tree is anchored. A toppled tree is a fast way to dampen the holiday spirit.

Incorporating Paw-friendly Touches
Making decor dog-friendly doesn’t mean skimping on style. Here’s how I add canine charm to our holiday setup:

  • Personalized Stockings: Each of my dogs has their own stocking hanging by the fireplace, complete with their names and a toy or two on Christmas morning.
  • Edible Ornaments: Safe, homemade dog treats strung up high enough on the tree makes for a visually and gastronomically pleasing touch.
  • Festive Beds and Blankets: Swapping out their regular beds and blankets for holiday-themed ones adds coziness and color.

Creating New Traditions
Beyond decorations, incorporating dogs into holiday traditions makes the season even more special. Here’s what’s we’ve started:

  • Photos with Santa: Taking my dogs to get their photo taken with Santa has become a cherished annual event.
  • Holiday Light Walks: We keep our evening walks festive by choosing routes that showcase the best neighborhood holiday lights.
  • Dog-Friendly Feasts: I prepare special dog-safe holiday meals so they can partake in the feast.

Crafting Pet-Safe Treats Together

During the holiday season, nothing brings more joy than baking a batch of fresh treats, especially when we can share this experience with our four-legged family members. While indulging in seasonal cooking, it’s crucial to ensure that all ingredients are safe for our pups to enjoy. So, I’ve embarked on a delightful journey to craft some pet-safe treats that not only satisfy those doggy taste buds but also keep tails wagging with health and happiness in mind.

The first step in our baking adventure is selecting the right ingredients. I always make sure to exclude anything toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, xylitol, grapes, and nuts, especially macadamia nuts. Instead, I opt for wholesome components like pumpkin, peanut butter (xylitol-free, of course), apples (minus the seeds), and oats. These ingredients are not just safe but also pack a punch of nutritional benefits for our pooches.

Here are a few must-try dog-friendly treats:

  • Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookies: A mix of pumpkin purée and peanut butter creates a flavorful, chewy treat that dogs adore.
  • Apple Oatmeal Biscuits: Combining finely chopped apples with oats offers a crunchy texture and a naturally sweet taste.
  • Sweet Potato Chewies: Thinly sliced and dehydrated sweet potatoes make for a chewy, healthy snack.

Baking these treats has become more than just a holiday activity for me; it’s a way to connect with my dog on a deeper level, understanding his nutritional needs and preferences. Plus, it’s incredibly rewarding to see his excitement as he tries each new creation. There’s something special about the bond we share, strengthened with every treat we bake together. It’s not only fun but also reinforces the importance of health-conscious feeding practices during the festive season and beyond.

Preparing these dog-safe treats can also turn into a wonderful holiday tradition. Inviting friends and family to join in on the fun multiplies the joy and spreads the love for our furry companions. It’s a beautiful reminder that holiday celebrations are about inclusivity, cherishing moments with all family members, pets included.

Christmas Morning Walk with Furry Friends

One of my absolute favorite holiday traditions involves getting up early on Christmas morning for a special walk with my dogs. The streets are quieter than usual, dusted with the silent promise of a day full of joy and laughter. Everything feels peaceful, almost magical, as if the world has pressed the pause button for a few hours.

This tradition started somewhat by accident. One Christmas morning, after the chaos of opening presents had settled down, I noticed my two pups sitting by the door, their tails wagging in unison. They seemed to know it was a day different from all others. Perhaps it was the excitement in the air or maybe the slight change in routine, but their eager faces were impossible to ignore. So, with a smile, I slipped on my coat and out we went.

Walking on Christmas Day with your dogs isn’t just a stroll; it’s an experience. Here’s why:

  • The Serenity: The usual hustle and bustle of the streets gives way to calm. It’s just you, your dogs, and the occasional chirp of a bird or rustle of leaves.
  • The Bonding: Spending this quiet time together strengthens the bond between you and your pets. They’re not just pets; they’re family.
  • The Health Benefits: Yes, even on Christmas, a walk is good for you and your dogs. It helps digest those extra holiday treats and keeps everyone’s spirits bright.

During our walk, we might come across other families out with their pets, offering smiles and holiday greetings from a distance. It feels like there’s an unspoken camaraderie, a shared understanding that this time is precious.

What makes these walks truly special, though, is the sense of inclusion. Including my pets in holiday activities feels right. It’s a gentle reminder that celebrations are not just about food, presents, or decorations; they’re about creating moments with all the members of our family, furry ones included. 

So, if you find yourself yearning for a new holiday tradition, consider a Christmas morning walk. It’s a simple, yet profoundly beautiful way to start the day, grounded in the love and companionship that pets bring into our lives.

Hosting a Thanksgiving Feast for Dogs

Every year, as the calendar flips to November and homes fill with the warm fragrances of pumpkin spice and roasting turkey, I find myself engrossed in holiday planning. Yes, you read that right. Why should humans have all the fun?

Thanksgiving is synonymous with gratitude, family, and heaps of delicious food. But it dawned on me a few years back that my furry family members were getting the short end of the stick, watching from the sidelines as their human counterparts feasted. 

Safe and Sumptuous Menu

Crafting the perfect menu that’s both safe and appealing for dogs requires a bit of research, but here’s what’s generally on the menu at our house:

  • Turkey: Plain, cooked, and boneless turkey is the centerpiece. I make sure it’s fully cooked and free from all the rich seasonings and garlic often found in our human version.
  • Vegetables: Steamed carrots and green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces. They’re not only safe but are a hit with the canine crowd.
  • Pumpkin: A dollop of pure, unsweetened pumpkin puree (not the pie filling loaded with sugar and spices) can be a delightful and healthy treat.

Festive Decorations and Doggy Dinnerware

To make the occasion feel special, I go all out with the decorations, keeping them pet-safe, of course. Think low-hanging, unbreakable ornaments and perhaps a string of LED lights away from curious mouths. The dinnerware is equally important—I use sturdy, washable dog bowls that are festive yet practical.

Including Everyone

This tradition isn’t just about food. It’s about inclusivity, making sure every family member, on two legs or four, feels valued and included. Here are some tips to ensure everyone enjoys the feast:

  • Supervise interactions, especially if you’re introducing new faces.
  • Keep a close eye on food to ensure dogs don’t snag anything dangerous to their health.
  • Make time for play and relaxation. A post-feast walk or some gentle playtime can help everybody digest and wind down.

Spreading Holiday Cheer with Canine Companions

When the holidays roll around, I always look forward to creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere filled with joy and laughter, not just for my two-legged family members but also for our furry friends. After all, they’re part of the family too, and seeing their tails wag in pure joy is one of the season’s highlights.

First off, I’ve learned that decorating with pets in mind does not mean sacrificing style. Here’s how I strike the balance:

  • Opt for unbreakable ornaments.
  • Secure the Christmas tree to prevent tipping.
  • Use pet-safe plants.

This approach not only ensures the safety of my dogs but also lets me decorate with peace of mind.

Onto the heartwarming part—including your dogs in holiday festivities. We’ve come up with creative ways to make them feel included:

  • Custom stockings: Each dog has a stocking filled with their favorite treats and toys.
  • Photo sessions: Dressing them up in holiday attire for the family photo adds a touch of adorable humor.
  • Gift exchange: Yes, our dogs exchange gifts too! It’s usually a new toy or a chewable delight.

Food is undoubtedly a big part of holiday celebrations. I stick to preparing special, dog-friendly meals that are both nutritious and festive. The key here is to avoid human food that could harm them. Instead, I focus on dishes that cater specifically to their dietary needs:

  • Homemade dog treats: Baked with love and healthy ingredients.
  • Special dinner: A small serving of plain, cooked turkey with steamed veggies and a dollop of unsweetened pumpkin.

This way, they don’t miss out on the feast, and I don’t worry about them ingesting anything harmful.

To wrap up, sharing the holiday spirit with my canine companions has taught me the value of inclusivity and joy. Each year, these traditions not only bring us closer but also remind us of the simple pleasures in life—like watching your dog’s eyes light up as they unwrap their gift. And really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?


Celebrating the holidays with my dogs has brought an extra layer of joy and warmth to the season. It’s all about the small moments, like watching their tails wag in excitement as they unwrap their gifts or seeing their happy faces during our festive photo shoots. These traditions, from the custom stockings hanging by the fireplace to the special meals prepared just for them, have become a cherished part of our family’s holiday celebrations. They remind me that including our furry friends in the festivities isn’t just about making the holidays special for them—it’s about enhancing the holiday spirit for us all. Sharing this magical time with my dogs has taught me the true meaning of the season: love, joy, and the beauty of family, whether two-legged or four.


Dan Turner

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