An Advent Calendar with Dogs and paw prints on it

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DIY Dog Advent Calendar

Looking for a way to involve your dog in the holiday festivities? Make a DIY dog advent calendar! Advent calendars are a great way to count down to the big day. We created a fun activity-based advent calendar for the furry members of your family. The holidays at the end of the year are meant to bring everybody together. Use this calendar as a fun way to make sure you spend some time with ALL members of the family this season.

An Advent Calendar with Dogs and paw prints on it

What is an Advent Calendar?

An advent calendar is quite simply a calendar used to count down the days until Christmas. The calendar typically starts 24 days before Christmas, with the 24th day being Christmas Eve. This means that Day 1 of the calendar will start December 1st.

A chalkboard that is counting down days left until Christmas (starting with 24)

Though the advent calendar is historically a Christian calendar, since it counts down until Christmas Day, you are able to adjust the count down to whatever winter holiday you choose to celebrate. You can even make an “Advent Calendar” for other holidays throughout the year.

How to Use This Dog Advent Calendar

There are several ways you can make and use this DIY Dog Advent Calendar. Depending on the time you have available during this busy time of year, you will want to choose between the 12- and 24-day versions of this calendar.

When choosing what order to do the activities, there are several options to choose from. If you have a strict or tight schedule at the end of the year, it may be easiest to schedule the activities ahead of time. This way you can make sure you have the proper amount of time for each activity.

person writing in their calendar

If your schedule is more flexible, then you may want the activities to be chosen randomly. One way to do this is to put each idea on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. Pick a random paper from the jar each day and you will have your chosen activity.

jar full of pieces of paper

To have your dog even more involved in the season’s festivities, you can play to your dog’s strengths. Have a numbered list of the activities written down. Depending on what your dog is more likely to play with or grab, write a number on each of those items. The items could be balls, fabric, or paper. Set up the items and guide your dog into picking up or pulling one of the items. The number on the item chosen is the numbered activity you have written down on the activity list.

Festive shapes with numbers 21-24 on them hanging on a rope. Shapes are Christmas trees, a star, and a heart

Keep in mind, that not all activities listed are appropriate for all dogs. If you have a dog that is not social or may have other challenges, you will want to replace that activity with one that is more appropriate and enjoyable for your pup.

Dog Advent Calendar Activities

The activities on this advent calendar list are a mixture of new experiences, quality time, treats, and other enrichment items. If you come across an activity that is not a good fit for your dog, feel free to replace it with another activity on the list.

Click here for your free Dog Days of Christmas Printable located on Google Drive.

Woman and dog standing in the snow. Dog is standing on back legs while woman is hugging him.

12 Dog Days of Christmas

  1. Walk in a New Park/Place– New places are exciting! Think of all the new smells and things to see.
  2. Scent Walk– this walk is meant to be done at your dog’s pace. Let them smell and sniff all the things during this time. Remember to be patient as this walk isn’t meant for physical excercise- it’s more of a mental activity for the dog. Think of it as them reading a novel with their nose.
  3. Holiday Photo Shoot– Every holiday or occasion deserves a photo to remember it by. Sit in front of some of your seasonal decorations, or choose matching outfits. Everyone in our house has Ugly Christmas Sweaters!
  4. New Toy– Give them a new toy. This doesn’t have to be expensive, just the excitement of getting a new item to play with is what is important.
  5. Special Treat/Chew– This is another quick activity. Let them have a special treat or chew. Suprise treats are always nice!
  6. Movie Night– Pick your favorite holiday movie, get some snacks, and curl up with your dog for the night. This is the perfect break during what can be a very stressful time of year as we all run around to get everything accomplished.
  7. Make an Ornament– You can make a clay mold or use paint to get an annual paw print for the tree. Another option is to make an ornament out of the holiday photo you’ve taken.
  8. Puppy Massage– Who doesn’t love a massage. Set the timer and spend that time giving your dog the best pets! This can be relaxing for both of you.
  9. Date Night– Make this as simple or elaborate as you want. It could be an evening stroll, sititng outside and stargazing, getting a coffee, or another type of outing. Time together is what’s important.
  10. Do Something Nice (visit a friend, make and sign a card, zoom call)- This season is known for ‘Giving’. Take the time and do something nice for someone. This could be visiting a friend or relative, send a card signed by both of you (paw print), participate in a charity walk, or even make a zoom call.
  11. Holiday Craft– make a Christmas tree out of paw prints, help them paint a picture in holiday colors, or get creative! Making it perfect isn’t what’s important- it’s the memories made while spending time together.
  12. Uninterrupted 30 minutes of play time– Put your phone down and turn the tv off. Let your dog be the center of the universe for a short time. Everyone appreciates having the full attention of the person they love.

24 Dog Days of Christmas

Use the 12 activities listed above along with the 12 additional activities listed here for the full 24 Day Dog Advent Calendar. You will notice a few repeat activities on this list. These are activities that I believe are worth doing over and over again to help stimulate your pup and strengthen your bond.

Poodle laying down on a table getting a massage
  1. Play Date with Friend (human or fur)– Organize a play date. This could be with your dog’s favorite canine friend or their favorite human (besides you). Visiting friends is always a win.
  2. Dog Popsicle– Give them a homemade dog popsicle. This is a fun treat that is really easy to make. Just don’t forget to give it to them after it freezes! There are also several frozen treats you can buy instore if you don’t have time to be creative.
  3. Homemade Dog Treats– Roll up those sleeves and get ready for a labor of love. There are a ton of recipes on Pinterest and even whole cookbooks dedicated to dog treat recipes. Homemade cookies are the best.
  4. Field Trip to Pet Store– Field Trips are the best. Take them to a pet store for some socializition time. You can even let them pick out their own toy or treat.
  5. Holiday Themed Enrichment– This could be store bought toys and treats or you can come up with your own holiday pet enrichment instead and make a family activity of it. We have several DIY dog enrichment ideas to help you get started.
  6. Learn a New Trick– Take some time and teach them a new behavior or work on cleaning up a behavior that isn’t as consitent anymore. Training is a great bonding experience. Just remember to bring along your patience!
  7. Dinner Using Feeder Puzzles– If you don’t already own feeder puzzles, they are a great investment designed to mentally stimulate your pup. There are several ideas in our DIY dog enrichment post to help you figure out what puzzles will be better for your dog.
  8. Throw a Party– Throw a holiday themed party and let your dog be apart of the fun. If you have friends that have social dogs that get along with yours, you can even make it a dog party. Here are some of our best tips on planning a dog party to set you up for a fun and safe event.
  9. Walk in a New Park/Place– Another repeat, but this is a fantastic activity for both humans and dogs.
  10. Uninterrupted Play Time– This is on the list twice because I believe it’s so important to be present with the ones we love (people and pets alike).
  11. People or Animal Watch– Go somewhere where you can relax and watch the people and animals around you. Enjoy the sense of community as you and your dog sit and just enjoy being apart of the world around you. A park is a great place to do this. This is also a great way to get your dog used to people if they need help with socialization.
  12. Puppy Massage– One more repeat. Research has shown that petting your dog lowers your coritsol level (a stress hormone). This holiday season, take advantage of something that you both will enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

I hope this DIY Dog Advent Calendar helps you and your dog spend some extra special bonding time together over this holiday season. Whether you choose to do the 12 dog days of Christmas or the full 24-day advent calendar, there are multiple activities available to ensure that your pup will get in on the celebration as well.

a man and woman both wearing Christmas sweaters, kneeling and posing with their 4 dogs in the snow. They are in front of a wooden fence.

Don’t forget to get your free Dog Days of Christmas Printable located on Google Drive.

I would love it if you shared photos of your favorite dog advent activity on our Facebook page.  

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About Author

Animal and wildlife enthusiast that currently owns four dogs, loves to travel, and try new things while saving as much money as possible!

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