To most of us, our dogs are more than a pet; they are a part of the family.
We are fur-blind when it comes to the four-legged, floppy-tongued bundles of fur that we share our homes and our lives with. They are lap warmers who love us unconditionally, guardians of the home when we leave for work or school, and walking companions who sniff out adventure every step of the way. They may come into our lives in different ways, but they are still family, and our lives are enriched for having lived, laughed, and loved with them.
National Dog Day is celebrated on August 26 each year to honor and celebrate all dogs, both pure breeds and mixes, and the contributions they make to our lives – whether it’s in service to others or as our own family member. Here are some great ways to show yours some love without having to break the bank:
1 – Create a Homemade ToyGot an old t-shirt or sweat pants you’ve been meaning to toss? Rather than throwing them away, these make for great rope toys for your dog. Try out this idea for a quick-and-easy braided rope toy made from an old t-shirt. If you’ve got an old tennis ball or worn out dog toy lying around, remake it into a new tug toy for your pup with a t-shirt or sock.
How to Make Homemade Dog Toys
2 – Find a Dog Park Near You
Bark Parks are all the rage and provide a wide, fenced-in space for your dog to roam and explore. Grab the old Frisbee – or that homemade dog toy you just made – and head out to explore your local or nearby dog park. There’s a whole world of new experiences and stimuli waiting there for your pet: new grass to wallow in, plants to examine, scents to catalog, and other dogs to meet.
3 – Make a Play Date With Friends
Call a few of your friends who also have furry family members (that your dog gets along) with to hang out at the park. It’s a great way to catch up with friends while giving your pet much needed socializing and exercise.
4 – Bypass the Expensive Pet Photographer and Take Your Own Photos!
Pull out your cell phone and grab some shots of your pet. Capture some candid photos of your dog playing or basking in the sun. Snap some shots of those adorable silly faces your pet uniquely makes. Take some selfies with your dog. Then, using a phone app, touch up your pictures or add artistic flair. You can send the finished product off to the local printer – or print at home – and then frame your creation to preserve that special moment in time.
When setting up the shots, keep a few things in mind:
- Be mindful of lighting. Try to take photos in natural light so that you can avoid the flash of your camera. Flash tends to cause “green eye” and can also startle your dog, making him camera shy.
- Get down on your dog’s level. Get down to your dog’s eye level to take the picture. This helps position the shot more naturally for your pet. This means getting on the ground with them in most cases, but it’s worth the great shots you’ll get from it. Use dog treats to get your dog looking at the camera.
- Let your dog be a dog. Be patient and take lots of photos. Try to catch your dog rolling in the grass, chewing on a toy, or bounding around the yard. These are the photos that capture the true essence of your dog.
- Keep your dog in focus. For fluffy faces (like shih tzu) or dogs with flatter face (like pugs), take more direct shots. For dogs with longer muzzles, try more side or three-quarter angle shots.
- Pay attention to the background. Try to position your dog about 10-12 feet in front of any backgrounds so that he is more in focus than what’s behind him, such as a tree line or small hill.
- Enlist a friend’s help. While you’re on that play date we mentioned, enlist your friends to help take pictures of you with your dog and do the same for them.
We’d love to see your pet pictures on National Dog Day! Enter your dog’s photo into our contest for a chance to win a $25 gift card. To enter, email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name, contact number, and home address. All entries must be received by August 29, 12:00PM CDT.
5 – Donate Old Blankets and Toys
Another way to honor your dog and help another in need is by donating old towels, blankets, and pet toys to your local shelter or animal welfare organization. While many people think to donate collars, food, and leashes, shelters need these items just as much. Keeping all the shelter animals bathed is a feat in itself, and towels are a very in-demand item. Towels and blankets both are used for bedding to help make the animals as comfortable as possible.
6 – Make Your Own Dog Treats
Show your pet some extra love by making healthy, tasty dog treats right at home. Chances are, you already have the ingredients you need to make them! The American Kennel Club’s website hosts a wealth of information on dog nutrition along with quick-and-easy recipes that are sure to get your dog’s mouth watering.
7 – Invent a New Game
Dogs need regular socializing, activity, and stimulation. Inventing your own game is fun for both you and your dog, and gives your dog a chance to spend some excess energy. From hide-and-seek to hiding treats under cups, there are lots of new games to entertain your dog.
8 – Make a Memory with a Paw Print
Making a paw print impression can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Some ways you can create this lasting memory is by using children’s dry clay (such as Crayola Clay) or by making your own 3-ingredient salt-dough. You can buy an inexpensive, ready-made paw print kit at the pet store or an online outlet. A wealth of ideas to jazz up your creation can be found online on your favorite DIY site or by searching sites like Pinterest.
However you choose to celebrate your dog on National Dog Day or any other day, just remember: what your dog wants the most is to simply spend time with you!