Gift/Activity ideas for Dog
December 19, 2012 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Christmas gift/activity ideas for my dog?

My dog, Lily, a 4 year old Australian Terrier, is the love of my life. After my partner and daughter of course! I would like to think of new activites and toys/treats that she might like.

I have never really been a dog person as I have quite a fear of dogs although since I got Lily I have become a lot more confident, so things that involve other dogs are ok too. I really want to do different things with her that will stimulate us both and show her how much I love her. She gets lots of attention and cuddles at home but we don't get out as much as I would like to. She loves walks and rides in the car.

What types of things does your dog like doing?
What types of toys and treats do they go wild for?
posted by Youremyworld to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's possible to make too much out of the idea of providing a mind-blowing, out-of-the-ordinary experience for your dog. Dogs by and large like routine. I really don't buy into the idea of a special meal as a holiday treat, because it's highly likely it'll give them much more stomach discomfort than pleasure.

My suggestion: a really long walk and/or a long time at a familiar dog park. Lots of pleasant time with you in which she's comfortable with her role.
posted by gurple at 3:41 PM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Most of the dogs I've known are big on what I can only call ritual and routine. Dogs love to have jobs - things they do that make them feel like they have a place in the pack. Even if it's "walk out with me to put up and take down the flag every day", "accompany you down to pick up the newspaper" (whether or not you train her to carry the newspaper for you), or "now is when we drive up to the store and get the pizza", dogs seem to like the experience of 'OH WE'RE DOING THAT THING! IT'S THAT THING! LET'S GO DO IT!'
posted by rmd1023 at 3:48 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

- extra walkies
- extra bacon
- extra tummy rubs and scritches

It's important to remember that dogs have no concept of "special occasions" so don't let them do anything you'd not normally want them to do as a "special treat," because as far as they are concerned, once it's done, that's what they get to do ~*forever*~ and this never ends well.
posted by elizardbits at 3:49 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Every dog is different. My dog is super food-motivated, so a batch of homemade dog cookies never goes amiss. But she's not picky - store-bought treats are A-OK too! Some dogs value toys (fetch? tug?) or cuddle-time more than snacks... what kinds of toys and treats does your dog seem to enjoy? gurple has the right of it for some dogs, but my dog is an adventurer who loves going new places and meeting new people. Youremyworld, what does your dog like to do?

Seeing as how dogs attach minimal value to physical possessions, I'd suggest that you pencil in a day (or two afternoons) of doing Dog Stuff. Go to the dog park. Ride around in the car with the windows down, preferably past interesting-smelling restaurants and factories. Visit every pet, motorcycle* and hardware store that welcomes dogs you can find. Make a play date with friends' dogs. Go for a walk in the woods. It's summer where you are; does your dog like to swim or wade?

It sounds like you're new to the wonderful world of dogs (s'okay - my current dog is my first dog too!) I had a hard time picking up on dog body language; specifically reading facial expressions. I found The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell to be incredibly helpful. My dog, like most dogs, really hates to be hugged. I didn't consciously know that until I learned to read her expressions.

TL;DR: what does your dog tell you she wants to do?

Most motorcycle shops (in the US at least) are dog-friendly. Ours is.
posted by workerant at 3:50 PM on December 19, 2012

My dog also loves to play. We throw his favorite toys for him, tug at them in his mouth, finally tell him to give, then throw it again.

It also lights him up to learn tricks. Keep training session short, use only positive reinforcement (clicker training) and use yummiest treats.

Lily thinks you are the bees knees no matter what. Dogs know they are loved and return the feeling 100 times over.
posted by bearwife at 3:51 PM on December 19, 2012

Buy a pack of 50 bully sticks from here (not the pet store). Awesome doggie baby sitters :-)

Sign up for obedience or agility training together. It'll give you tons of confidence, a much better relationship with your dog, a weekly appointment together, and concrete things to do between sessions. Best gift you can give your dog is a sense of security and ability to communicate with each other.
posted by barnone at 3:54 PM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Last year I got my dogs this Nylabone Dinosaur & they have been obsessed with it ever since. They chewed both of them EVERY DAY for almost a year, until they got too gross & I had to throw them away. I bought more for their stockings this year.

I have made these dog treats for every dog in the family for Christmas for the last few years and they always go over extremely well.
posted by nuclear_soup at 4:08 PM on December 19, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all the ideas so far.

Workerant is correct, I am new to dog ownership so just looking for different ideas, not specifically for Christmas day, but things we can do all year round. I have 2 weeks off over the holidays so lots of time to start some new routines, and yes it's summer here.

I've never been to a dog park, but I've been thinking she would like it.
She is the type of dog who seems genuinely happy to be just hanging out together, walks, or getting the mail or cleaning up around home etc. And when she hears the car keys she gets really excited.

She likes her rope chew toy and seemed to enjoy our first trip to the beach although she wasn't too sure at first.

I would also like to get my 7 year old in on our activities as she and Lily adore each other.
posted by Youremyworld at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2012

How about you, your 7 year old, and Lily start doing a weekly hike together? I think that would be super cool for all of you.

and if he or she is good for Xmas, you can let your partner come, too.
posted by Vaike at 4:20 PM on December 19, 2012

My local Harris-Teeter sells these giant bones for dogs --- they're actually cows' leg bones, but I swear the first time I saw them? All I could think was, "dinosaur bones"?!? One of those ought to give Lily a thrill.
posted by easily confused at 4:56 PM on December 19, 2012

Two weeks to get started? Learn clicker training!! Start with Karen Pryor's books and branch out from there. I can post some good videos on YouTube if you're interested.
posted by barnone at 6:17 PM on December 19, 2012

My dog has so very many things she loves (she's half dalmatian and feels ALL the feels very intensely), but especially in the toy department the one toy that she has never tired of and has lasted for 3 years and still going strong is this plastic treat dispenser. It's best for a dog that is food motivated and not too dimwitted. Kong makes a similar one called the Kong Wobbler that's easier to fill and also a little easier for dogs to figure out/empty.
posted by drlith at 7:46 PM on December 19, 2012

I got myself a jog leash this year and both of us love it. It has a section that goes around your waist that is adjustable and the leash itself has a bungee like material in it so that there's never slack for your dog to trip on or go under a leg. You use it with a harness, not a collar, so you need a harness too if you don't have one.

My dog gets the happiest look on his face when running with me. I do keep a lookout for squirrels so I can brace myself though!

Along the same lines, I bought a bike leash (designed so the dog can never run into the bike) that attaches to your seat post. It is great but because I have an ultralight road bike, my dog was able to make me wobble when the aforementioned squirrels would make an appearance. He also loved this toy but we will wait till I have a heavier bike to try again.

I'm also a big fan of Nina Ottoson's dog puzzles, though you have to supervise use so your dog doesn't chew the pieces. It is pretty fun to watch a dog operate one and they burn off mental energy doing them. We have the one called casino. It is also good for feeding a dog who gobbles food and needs to slow down.
posted by dottiechang at 1:47 AM on December 20, 2012

Pig Ears. Dogs go ape for these things.

As for the rest of it, just lots of play time, especially for terriers, burn off all that hyper energy they have.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:08 AM on December 20, 2012

My dog looooves his kong toy. You can fill it with treats or peanut butter (or both). You can also keep Lily in one room while your kid hides the treat-filled kong in another room, and then let your dog into the room to try and find it. It's also a good thing to keep on hand when you want to keep her occupied for a while.
posted by inertia at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2012

Nina Ottosson dog puzzles (link to plastic dog bone example) are fun for mine, she's very smart (maybe kind of similar to yours, she's a Fell Terrier and looking at the Wiki might have some similar traits). The wood puzzles are nicer, but about twice the price. If you have a Pet Valu near you they had some on sale for $19.99 this week. She also likes things like this IQ ball - all that said, she also enjoys chasing and running around with empty paper towel rolls in her mouth, so...

How is Lily with other dogs? Mine is generally pretty good but small dogs she must think are squirrels because she can get cranky with them. I am 100% in favor of dog parks, but I stopped taking mine because I didn't think it was a good fit for her. If you have a friend or neighbor with a dog and they get along, omg does she love a playdate at one house or the other.

Mine learns quickly (when she's not being too stubborn to show she has learned!) and can do fun tricks like roll over if I just twirl my finger, or move across the room and sit if I turn and move my head a certain way. Maybe she just likes the small treats she gets afterwards, I don't know. You could also show her her toys by name and ask her to retrieve specific ones (go get wiggly giggly! go get cow!).

The walks and car rides are really her favorite things to do, especially if we go on a walking route she's not as familiar with and she can sniff around on the walk.

Is there an agility course near you? I have heard those are super fun.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:24 PM on December 20, 2012

Ooh, and your 7-year-old might like making homemade dog biscuits with you - it's really easy, you can control the ingredients and make fun shapes. Make small-ish batches (or give the extra away) and store in the fridge (if you make them with too much cheese or peanut butter they can go bad if you leave them sit out too long, depending on the recipe).

Mine also loves those "dinosaur bones" but be warned they stink and leave a mess of chewed off "stuff" behind. She also loves the Kong "treat dispenser" (smaller hole than a regular Kong) - her food is small, so I sometimes give it to her in that and she has to work to get it out, she loves it.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:30 PM on December 20, 2012

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