Every year on August 26, pet parents across the US celebrate National Dog Day! It’s a special day to celebrate and appreciate our four-legged fur kids. I always think these events are funny because, if we’re being honest, isn’t every day a dog day? As caring dog parents, we’re constantly tending to our pups’ needs and looking for ways to live our best lives with our dogs by our side. But, a dedicated day like this is still a fun excuse to love our little fluffy ones a little extra!
What Is National Dog Day?
Founded in 2004 by Pet Lifestyle Expert Colleen Paige, National Dog Day celebrates all dogs, regardless of breed (mixed or pure). This day honors family dogs, service dogs, and other working dogs that put their lives on the line for us every day. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing what dogs can be trained to do. It’s also a day to raise awareness for the number of shelter dogs that need a forever home.
Ways You Can Celebrate
Adopt or Foster a Rescue Dog
This first one isn’t for everyone. But, if you’ve been considering expanding your family by an additional four legs then this is a perfect time. Give your local animal shelter a call to ask about fostering or adopting.
Donate to a Shelter in Need
If your house is at capacity and you’re unable to bring a rescue dog home, why not help out the shelter? Often, shelters are working on limited resources, and donations are greatly appreciated. While it’s best to pick up the phone and ask the staff at your area shelter what’s on their “wish list,” here are some items that all shelters typically need:
- Blankets and linens
- Dog/cat beds
- Cleaning supplies
Do you have any of this stuff just lying around your house? Chances are, you have gently used bedding tucked away in the back of your closet or you’re holding onto an old dog crate that your canine companion grew out of years ago. Maybe you still have your dog’s puppy collar and it’s in great shape. Whatever the case, if you have any of this stuff then it may be a great time to declutter your house and help out the shelter animals!
Double-Check Your Home
Cleaning and organizing a home seems like a vicious cycle: We spend hours making everything sparkle and then the next day we take off our pajamas and just leave them on the floor. Go figure! If your home needs a good cleaning, this is the perfect time to check out our Room-by-Room Puppy Proofing Guide to ensure every space is safe for Fido.
While you’re at it, double check your fencing and make sure all posts are secure.
Go for a Walk
I know what you’re thinking, “But I take my dog for a walk every day.” Here’s the thing: There are different types of dog walks. Sometimes, you and your dog will head out for a quick potty break. Other times, you may leash up your furry friend to work on obedience training. Then, there are leisure walks where you let your dog leave the heel position to go explore the surroundings, sniff around, check the pee-mail, and just be a dog! These are perhaps the most satisfying walks for your dog because they learn a lot through smell and having the time to sniff the grass, nearby bushes, and poles is mentally enriching for them. Today, for National Dog Day, go a little slower on your walk and let your dog just be a dog!
Plus, while you’re out for a leisurely stroll, you can turn your steps into cash for shelters. Yes, seriously! Check out apps like WalkForADog by WoofTrax. When you download this free app, you get to choose which shelter or rescue organization you would like to walk for. Add your dogs to your profile and just hit the “Start Walking” button. The app tracks your distance and your impact!
Bake a Dog Cake
I’m a firm believer that no party is complete without a cake. Who else is with me? If you’re looking for a special treat for this special day, I’ve got just the recipe.
This looks just like a decadent bite — icing and all. But, instead of the normal cake fixings, it’s made out of healthy, gluten-free, Fido-friendly ingredients. Think: ground beef, fresh veggies, sweet potato, and salmon. As soon as I slice a piece of this doggy cake and serve it to my fur kids, they go absolutely nuts. I bet it will make your dog’s tail wag too!
Or Make Another Special Dog Treat
Don’t feel like making a full cake? No problem! You can easily whip up some biscuits or soft chew treats.
No need to run out to the pet store to buy anything. Just head to the pantry, grab some natural ingredients and bake a batch of homemade DIY dog snacks. I offer a bunch of healthy dog treat recipes right HERE on my blog. Or, in my cookbook, Proud Dog Chef: Tail-Wagging Good Treat Recipes.
Don’t worry if you aren’t a culinary master. My recipes are always easy to make. Plus, your canine kids won’t care if they come out picture-perfect. They’ll just love the taste! So get ready for some wagging tails and messy thank you kisses.
Make a DIY Interactive Toy
I’m a big fan of interactive dog toys! They’re a great way to keep our pups entertained and mentally stimulated, which is great for busting boredom, eliminating bad behaviors caused by boredom, boosting mood, and sharpening our pup’s mind. Along with my favorite store-bought games, I’ve been getting creative with things that are just lying around the house. Here are some easy DIY projects you can throw together for National Dog Day:
Work on New Tricks
Training promotes good doggy manners, is wonderful for your pup’s mental health, and offers great bonding time. Whether you need to work on some basic commands or more advanced tricks, carving out just 15 minutes for training is very rewarding for both you and your dog.
I recently bought an agility course on Amazon and am spending my evenings teaching my dogs to weave through and jump over poles. They’re having a blast and I get such a kick out of it. THIS is the course I got!
Host a Puppy Playdate
Does your pooch have a special friend he likes to play with? If so, why not whip up a batch of treats from one of the above recipes, invite him over with his canine parent, and make an afternoon of it. The dogs can play, you can socialize, and you’ll all have a memorable day.
Give Your Dog a Massage
This one sounds a bit over the top, but dog massages are actually super healthy for our pups. Here are some benefits:
- Improves Circulation
- Decreases Blood Pressure
- Improves Lymphatic Fluid Movement
- Stimulates Liver and Kidneys
- Strengthens Immune System
- Aids Digestion
- Helps Relieve Muscle Tension and Stiffness
- Speeds Up Healing Process for Pulled Muscles
- Reduces Scar Tissue Formation
- Improves Flexibility & Range of Motion
- Reduces Anxiety
- Promotes Relaxation
Another benefit? Early detection for dog issues. The only way to know when something is wrong with your pooch is to know his baseline. By getting a good feel of your dog’s body on a regular basis, you will easily be able to detect any changes happening underneath his coat and skin (such as newly formed lumps, bumps, or tender areas). In many cases, early detection can be life-saving.
In this instructional video below by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), Dr. Narda Robinson demonstrates some traditional massage techniques that you can use for your canine kids. I definitely recommend watching the full video as it’s filled with great tidbits from start to end.
Order a Custom Pet Portrait
This one is less for your dog and more for you, but it’s still a fun idea! While there are plenty of pet artists and custom art companies, I was recently introduced to a really unique company called Doggovinci. Here’s how it works:
- Browse the 100+ hilarious art designs on their website and select your favorite. They have art inspired by popular movies, sports teams, royal paintings, and so much more.
- Send them a photo of your dog.
- They will place your dog’s head onto the body you selected.
Check out how cute these are! I have mine hanging up in my closet, so I see them every morning when I get dressed.
How will you spend National Dog Day? Let us know in the comments below!