The upside of this crazy year? All the time we got to spend curled up at home with our pets, doing the things we love. Think: Cuddling, playing in the yard and extra-long dog walks. And if you’re opting to stay home this Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll have all the more time to enjoy some festive and fun activities with your furry friend by your side. Need some ideas? Whether it’s enjoying a pet-friendly picnic together or snuggling up in cozy PJs, here are six perfectly seasonal and fun things to do with your dog over the long holiday weekend.
1Host a Virtual Friendsgiving with Your (and Your Dog’s) Best Friends
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By now, we’re all Zoom pros, so why not take advantage of the software by planning a virtual, pet-centric Friendsgiving? It’s a great way to safely see friends on the holiday and adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines—while cooing over everyone’s fur babies, of course!
And if you need some inspiration for creating a yummy dog-friendly menu, check out some of our favorite Chewy Eats recipes:
- Turkey-Cranberry Meatballs
- Thanksgiving Dinner DIY Dog Treats
- Barista-Style Fall Drinks for Dogs
- Mini Peanut Butter "Mousse" Pies
While you’re getting your Ina Garten on, be aware of these dangerous foods for dogs. Ingredients like onions, garlic, nuts and chocolate are common in Thanksgiving dishes and desserts and can cause issues for your pup if eaten.
2Play One of These Fall-Themed Games
There are so many fun games to play with your dog, so we talked to two pet trainers for their suggestions on the best ones to try for the fall.
Take advantage of the cool weather and fall leaves with a seasonal spin on the classic game of hide and seek.
“Dogs have truly incredible noses and love to use them,” says Nicole Lorenzetti Yuhas, CPDT-KA, a certified professional dog trainer with Heavenly Hounds Training in Lawrence Township, New Jersey.
Yuhas suggests heading outside and tossing treats in the grass, then letting your dog sniff them out. After they get the hang of it, grab some of those fall leaves lying around and cover each treat. The leaves make it a little more challenging (but fun!) for your pup—and it’s perfectly themed to the season!
“Once that’s easy for your dog, make the piles a little larger and spread them out around your yard,” she suggests. “Finally, if your dog is having a great time and finding the treats easily, try hiding treats in only half of the piles and watch as your dog uses their amazing sense of smell to locate the piles with goodies.”
Trail of Treats
Alli Bennett, a trainer with Collective Canine Training Co. in Lawrenceville, Georgia, says a great game to play with your dog while also teaching them to “stay” is something she calls “Trail of Treats.”
First, grab some treats that feature the flavors of the season like these Blue Dog Bakery Harvest Bites Pumpkin Flavor Dog Treats, then tell your dog to “stay.” Place the first treat on the ground 10-15 feet away, then drop another treat every 2-3 feet. When you give the OK, watch your dog have a blast following the trail of treats you’ve made!
“(It’s) a great game to keep your dog focused on finding the next treat,” says Bennett.
If your pup needs a bit of refresher course on the “stay” command, you can find some helpful tips here.
3Enjoy a Hike and Pup-Friendly Picnic
Winter is still a few weeks away, so why not take advantage of the not-yet-frigid weather and enjoy the great outdoors with your dog by going for a hike? Here’s everything you need to know about hiking with dogs, including tips for choosing a dog-friendly trail and what to pack.
To make the day extra special, end your day outdoors with a picnic. Make it pet-friendly with foods that both you and your pup can enjoy: Try whipping up these trail-mix bars that both of you can gobble up.
For more tips for planning a pet-friendly picnic, read this.
4Create Your Own Found-Objects Fall Wreath
Homespun holiday is a huge thing this season and the easiest way to get the look is a DIY wreath you make from stuff you forage while out walking the dog. Don’t go stripping pinecones or branches—look for what’s on the ground (your dog will be a huge help here). If making a wreath seems complicated, trust us, it’s not. To get you started, we asked Jarret Yoshida, an interior design expert, and Dan Moynihan, a floral design expert, to share their pro tips for making a wreath using materials you can find on a walk in your neighborhood, in the woods or on the beach, as well as a few items from your local craft store.
What's You'll Need:
- Natural materials gathered on your walk: twigs, evergreen branches, fall leaves, pinecones, acorns, etc.
- Ready-made wreath frame (wire or foam, any size will work but 9” is best for most doors)
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Pruning shears
- Ribbon of varying widths and colors
- Paddle of 22-gauge green florist wire
What to Do:
- Lay out your found objects and wreath frame. If some of your branches are too large, trim with the pruning shears.
- Begin attaching your natural objects to the frame. It’s best to start with longer, lusher materials, such as branches of evergreen. Cut strips of wire and wind them around the stem of each branch, securing it to the wreath. Work around your frame clockwise until the entire frame is covered.
- As you add additional layers of natural objects, like autumn leaves and acorns, you can begin hot gluing, overlapping the materials to create a multidimensional wreath.
- If desired, you can tie bits of ribbon into bows and add them to your wreath with hot glue.
- Inspect your wreath for any gaps or loose objects. If done, allow hot glue to dry.
- Use a ribbon to create a loop and tie it to the top of the wreath to hang from your door.
Yoshida and Moynihan say to be extra careful if you decide to incorporate wild berries into your wreath.
“Many kinds of berries are toxic to both people and pets,” they say. “Don’t take chances with wild fruits if you’re unsure what they are.”
5Snuggle Up Next to Your Home-built Fire Pit
Depending on where you live, a thick blanket may keep away the chill, but in colder climes, it’s time to think about adding a firepit to the backyard in time for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Doesn’t a Thanksgiving night spent star-gazing with your dog sound lovely?
There are countless options available for purchase online ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, but if you’re feeling adventurous, This Old House has a step-by-step tutorial on building your very own (plus all the safety tips you need to know). You’ll need a few supplies like blocks, a shovel and safety equipment, but we think the effort will be well worth it and a long weekend is the perfect time to tackle the project.
6Get Your Hygge On
Of course, if your ideal “fall-iday” weekend is sleeping in, wearing sweats all day and drinking hot cocoa—then we support you. Get that hygge on!
What you do with your lazy day together is up to you, but we think it’d be pretty fun to kick off that holiday movie marathon a little early this year. If that’s your thing, then Netflix has a perfectly curated list of holiday movies just for you. Make it extra special—and very Instagrammable—with a pair of pajamas for your pup. Time to snuggle up!
And while you’re sipping on your hot cocoa, your dog can lap up their own seasonal beverage, too, with these DIY barista-inspired dog treat recipes.
While there so many things to do with your dog on Thanksgiving, what’s most important is that you and your best furry friend have fun together. So as long as you do what makes the two of you happy, it’s bound to be a memorable Thanksgiving.