Every year there’s a new Valentine’s Day movie that draws our attention to the relationships people have, or don’t have, with one another. Romantic comedies, sappy love stories, dramatic romances, and if you google search “Valentine’s Day Movies for Singles” you’ll find thousands of suggestions. Whether you’re happily in or out of a relationship with another person, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the day of love. However, my favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is actually non-traditional. I spend the day giving extra love and attention to my dog! After all, when it comes to the topic of unconditional love, who better to celebrate than the dog who greets you with a wagging tail every time you come home, even if you were only outside for 30 seconds to grab the mail!
Here are 7 ways you can celebrate and share this special day with your dog.
- While there might not be any Valentine’s Day movies specifically about dogs, there are a few films that you can watch as you cozy up with your canine at home. Consider piling up some dog beds in front of the tv and sitting on the floor with your dog or inviting them onto the couch to cuddle as you watch movies like Homeward Bound, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and Togo. Give your dog an extra treat by making a big bowl of popcorn and sharing a couple of pieces with them.
- What is one thing that every dog loves to do? Not digging or howling. Not chewing toys or chasing squirrels. No, every dog I’ve ever met loves… sniffing! Sniffing is a natural canine behavior that lowers heart rate and stimulates the mind! Sniffing is information gathering, exploring, and learning all through the nose. So how do you wrap up “sniffing” as a present for your dog? Well, the first step is to buy some smelly dog treats. The smelliest treats you can find are likely to be fish-based, but if that would offend your nose too much, then there are many other meaty treats that don’t contain fish. Pick something freeze-dried or dehydrated to get the best smelling treats for your pup. Once you have that, take them with you as you head out for your dog’s normal walk. Then, several times on your walk, stop by a patch of grass. Inspect the area to make sure there’s nothing harmful in the grass that your dog could eat by mistake. Then once you’ve determined the grass is safe, take a handful of treats and spread them in the grass for your dog to find. Let them watch you do this and point out the first treat to help them get started. Then watch as they use their nose to sniff out the rest! This simple game of “Find It” is incredibly easy to incorporate on your walks and will give your dog the chance to do something they love and eat delicious treats! You can also do this while spending time with your dog in your yard.
- If the weather is less agreeable and going on a walk with your dog seems unlikely, try doing some fun scent work games in the house! One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is with a snuffle mat. A snuffle mat is made of a rubber or plastic mat with holes in it and fleece tied through the holes. It will do exactly what the grass does outside, hide treats! Place treats between the ribbons of fleece as if they are long blades of grass. Then allow your dog to forage for the treats with their powerful nose. This will allow your dog to express natural behavior and get in a mental workout. Plus, eating food and sniffing will reduce their heart rate and cause a serotonin release, which is the perfect combination for relaxing and watching a movie together. Need a snuffle mat? Stop in to see our selection!
- Want to create a Valentine’s Day memory with your dog? Get creative and try making a paw painting! Use thicker paper as your canvas and non-toxic washable paint as your medium. Make sure you have a dish of soapy water, a dish of only water, and a towel ready for clean-up. Then use a small paintbrush to gently brush a thin layer of paint onto your dog’s paw pad. Immediately after, place their paw on the paper and hold for 3 seconds. Then lift their paw, wash in the dish of soapy water, rinse in the dish of clean water, and dry. Let the paw painting dry for 10-15 minutes before framing!
- Red is the color of love. Do you know what else red is the color of? Kongs. My dog loves their Kong, particularly when stuffed with food for them to lick. This Valentine’s Day I’m whipping up a new Kong recipe for my dog, something special just for them. If you’d like to do the same for your dog, stop by the grocery or pet store and pick up some doggy ice cream, like Frosty Paws or Pooch Creamery (yes, there are ice creams made for dogs). Thaw the ice cream until soft, but not liquid, then mix with 3 chopped strawberries. Once you’ve made your mix, stuff your dog’s Kong and freeze. Give them their special treat while watching the movie you picked out or after their Valentine’s Day walk.
- Your dog would probably love a brand-new toy. But what’s even better is unwrapping that new toy! When I give my dog a gift-wrapped toy, I can just see the excitement and anticipation on her face. She knows exactly what to do once I place it on the ground. To gift wrap your dog’s new toy, simply remove all of the tags from their toy, then place it inside of a large paper bag and fold the top over to close the bag. Alternatively, you can use a cardboard box and fold the top folds over each other to close the box. Note: If using a bag, remove any handles that could catch on your dog’s paw or muzzle. If using a box, remove any tape or labels that your dog might chew on. Always supervise your dog with new toys, paper bags, cardboard boxes, etc., pick up any pieces that they chew off and discard when done. Your dog might need some help in opening its present. You can show them how to open it by ripping the bag or box and showing them the toy inside. Then watch as they do the rest!
- If your dog loves playing with other dogs, then set up a play date or schedule an extra visit to Central Bark so they can hang with their canine valentines! This is a perfect way to meet their social needs while also feeling good about giving them an extra special day on Valentine’s Day. In addition, ask about our Enrichment Add-Ons and which options your dog might love, so their day is even more special than usual!