Do you celebrate National Pet Month? If you started an intentional new year with your dog, you already know the kind of life you want to live this year. Sharing your life with dogs is a lot of fun but there are a million things to get done on top of doggy time and expenses. With that being said, parenting dogs is incredibly rewarding. National Pet Month — celebrated each May— is a perfect opportunity to turn off the noise, have some fun with your dog, and celebrate the special relationship that you have. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your dog to honor the month.
Doggy date day
National Pet Month is the perfect opportunity to put aside other commitments and spend some quality time with your dog. Think about what activities your dog likes best and try to plan the whole day around those activities. Have a dog who likes to get up early? Set an alarm and get your dog out for an early morning walk! Spend extra time out walking or take your dog on a “coffee date” to the drive-through to get a treat for you and a “pup cup” for your dog (most coffee shops will give these small paper cups with whipped cream to dogs for free with your order). You can play your dog’s favorite games, and try to visit some of your dog’s favorite places. You might want to document the day with cute pictures, but otherwise try to put your phone away and focus on your dog, instead of getting distracted by responding to emails or scrolling the internet.
Plan a doggy adventure
Looking for something a little more adventurous? Celebrate National Pet Month by planning a socially distanced day trip with your dog. Go online and search for a new dog-friendly park, river, lake, or beach within a reasonable drive of your home. But before you plan to go on an adventure there with your dog, just be sure to research that the place you want to go is dog friendly (some state and national parks aren’t). When getting ready for your outing make sure to bring treats and water (for both you and your dog), and poop bags for cleaning up after your dog. On your adventure, be sure to follow leash laws to ensure the comfort and safety of wildlife as well as other dogs and people in the area.
Spread the love
Do you know other dog parents who are doing a great job with their dogs? One fun way to celebrate National Pet Month is to uplift those other dog parents you know by buying or making cards and gifts to drop off on their doorsteps. For extra fun, you can bring your dog along for the ride to deliver treats. Being a dedicated dog parent, especially during the pandemic, can feel alienating. This is especially true for people parenting dogs who might have medical or behavioral issues. By delivering a little note, a dog treat, or a sweet treat for the pet parent, you can help brighten someone else’s day and validate what a great job they are doing caring for their dog.
Play a new dog game
Training your dog is an amazing opportunity for the two of you to spend quality time together. For National Pet Month, consider spending some time teaching your dog a new skill, game, sport, or trick. If it’s safe within your local community, you can sign up for a training class. Sports like agility, scent work, rally obedience, or even a basic obedience class can help brush up on basic skills. You can also work on “homeschooling” some new skills with your dog. Trick training is a particularly versatile sport (if you get serious about it, you and your dog could even earn a title) appropriate for dogs of all ages and sizes and can be done at home. In my book Tricks In The City I give step-by-step instructions for teaching your dog beginner through advanced tricks, all of which can be learned at home in small spaces and with limited props or supplies.
Opportunity to learn more
If you aren’t sure about your dog’s breed mix, National Pet Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate by decoding your dog. Embark is really a gift for both you and your dog, as it will give you important information about how to better understand your dog and meet their needs. Knowing what breed or breeds your dog is can be fun, but a DNA test can also give you important information about health risks your dog might be predisposed to which will help you and your veterinarian better care for your dog today and in the future. Breed information will also help you to understand more about the activities and games your dog might enjoy doing based on what kind of work their ancestors might have been developed to do.
Another way to celebrate National Pet Month is to help dogs and people who are less fortunate than you. To honor the relationship you have with your dog, consider making donations of dog food, toys, treats, or other supplies to local shelters and rescue organizations. These supplies will help shelter staff and foster dog parents care for homeless dogs until they can find the pet parents of their dreams. This has been an extremely hard year for everyone and many communities are opening pet food pantries that can support low-income and homeless dog guardians who have fallen on hard times. These supportive programs are enabling loving dog guardians to keep and care for dogs who they might otherwise have had to relinquish to a shelter because of unexpected economic hardships.
National Pet Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything you do for your dog and center that special relationship you have. Dogs love us unconditionally and it’s our job as dog parents to give them the best life possible. Honor that special connection by spending some extra quality time with your pup while celebrating and uplifting other dog parents in your community.