Including your pet in holiday celebrations is a great way to get them in on the family fun! You can get just as much enjoyment watching the dogs open gifts as watching human family members open theirs.
Wrapping Your Dog’s Gift
When wrapping dog presents, ask yourself: do you want your furry family member to open the gifts themselves? If so, they need to be easy to open, so here are some key tips when wrapping:
Keep tape to a minimum.
Try to use dog-safe wrapping paper. If used, it should be loose (this makes it easier for the dogs to begin unwrapping).
If this is your dog’s first time opening a gift, or they’re struggling with the concept, leave one end open so they can see and smell it’s a dog toy inside.
Leave the nice decorations for the humans – ribbon is pretty but not needed for pups.
The gifts your dog unwraps on Christmas morning should be unbreakable toys that can be played with immediately.
The idea of letting your dog open the gift is so they can have fun with it, so only wrap toys.
Pro tip: If you have also bought some grooming toys, a new collar and leash, or bags of treats, just set those aside and use them later. Better yet, use them as stocking stuffers!
How To Get Your Dog to Unwrap Their Gifts
Let your dog open one of their gifts early in the celebration so they can chew on it while everyone else opens their gifts. If they have more than one gift, that’s fine. They can open their other gifts during the celebration. Just let your dog have one early to keep them occupied.
When it’s time for your dog to open their gift, encourage them to investigate it (maybe even tear the dog-safe wrapping paper a little to get them started).
When they do get excited, praise them. If your dog wants to tear the paper to shreds, let them! It’s their present.
If you’re going to let your dog tear open gifts when the family opens theirs, keep them on leash and close to you.
Otherwise, they could too easily become over-stimulated and interfere with other people, grabbing and breaking their gifts or running off with them.
Worse yet, they could start bouncing around and accidentally knock over the tree.
Be Prepared for Excitement
During gift opening on Christmas, it’s not unusual for children (and even adults) to get excited. Don’t be surprised when your dog does, too.
Just use the leash and your training skills to keep their excitement in check.
However, if they get too excited and they’re not listening, they’re barking, pulling on the leash, or otherwise out of control, then they need some time to calm down.
We recommend keeping an eye out for these warning signs and allowing your pup to decompress. Some ways to encourage your dog to calm down include:
Take a break from the celebrations. Take your dog out for a walk. The fresh air will help them calm down, and the exercise will be good for them. After a 15 or 30 minute walk, bring them back to the house, put them in their crate or safe place in another room, give a treat or food dispensing toy, and close the door as you leave.
Let them run in the backyard. If you can’t take a walk, another option is to let your dog get their energy out in the backyard. The weather must be conducive to this, of course.
Separate them from the chaos. If neither of the above are feasible, take your dog to another room away from the celebration and spend a few minutes calming them. Snuggle with them, rub their tummy, or even give them a nice massage so they calm down. Don’t play exciting games right now; he or she is already wound up.
Finally, don’t let your dog run and play with the kids when they’re all excited. Chances are that a child or dog will get hurt.
On top of that, breakables in the house could end up ruined.
Limit your dog’s excitement by using a leash or by removing them from the excitement when it’s just too much.
The Five Best Gift Ideas for Your Dog
Your dog will love whatever you get them, no doubt about it. But it can be fun for humans, too, to switch it up with some new ideas. Here's a quick list of great holiday gifts for your dog:
A Gift for New Dog Owners
An enrichment toy is anything that makes a dog’s day more interesting and fun. For example, here’s a food bowl maze that helps slow down eating. Or, any puzzle-based game helps keep their minds sharp.
Some dogs love water; others, not so much. If your pup is an anxious bather, then investing in a bathtime distraction toy is worthwhile.
An example of a distraction toy is a lick mat, designed to stick to any surface. Spread some peanut butter or meat puree on the mat and your dog will be too focused on obtaining the flavor to notice they’re being washed.
A comfort gift is great for the winter months. It’s anything from a big plush stuffed animal for nap time, a cozy dog bed, or a fluffy blanket.
Cold weather means your dog is growing out their fur coat. Grooming supplies like a dog brush or comb help keep up with all that fuzz.
A brush helps distribute healthy oils in a dog’s fur and feels like a nice massage on their skin.
Pet-friendly shampoo and leave-in conditioner are particularly nice for dogs with long or curly fur.
A Gift for New Dog Owners
Dog presents don’t always have to be opened by the dog themselves! Present ideas for new pet parents include pet apparel, a new collar or cute bowtie, or a special snack that’s hard to find.
If you have a bigger spending budget, consider a dog camera for the owner to check in on their pet while they’re away is a spectacular and useful gift.
Making Room for New Toys
If your dog is going to get some new toys for Christmas, sort through their old toys. Throw away broken toys, but if they have toys left that are still usable (that they don’t play with) consider donating them.
Wash the toys well and then bring them to your local shelter to be given as rescue dog presents. The dogs in the shelter will enjoy those old toys!