When it comes to spoiling dogs, there is no better day than Valentine’s Day.
Indeed, 32% of consumers will be spending some money on their pets this Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. Dollar-wise, pet parents are expected to spend around $1.7 billion on their furry loved ones on Valentine’s, up from $1.28 billion in 2022, making it a record-breaking year to spoil our four-legged friends.
While presents definitely help make the day extra special for your dog (they know holidays, right?), there are plenty of things you can do for your pup that will make them just as happy.
Here is a list of seven ways to celebrate your dog on Valentine’s Day.
1. Take Your Dog on an Adventure
It’s easy to adapt to our routines, including the walks we take with our canine companions. Mixing up the usual daily stroll can be inspiring for both dogs and pet parents alike, according to certified dog trainer and professional canine behavior consultant Joan Hunter Mayer, owner of The Inquisitive Canine.
This Valentine’s, Hunter Mayer suggests offering something unique, whether that means going in the reverse direction — you might notice something different, or your dog might find a new smell — or practicing basic good manners like “sit” or “down-stay” in new locations along the way.
A sniffing walk — a walk that’s all about smelling things rather than about walking a specific distance or route — is another highly enjoyable activity for dogs, according to Hunter Mayer. “Dogs love to sniff, so we should provide them the opportunity to fulfill their needs. Make the walk all about them, granting them the opportunity to take YOU for a walk instead: they follow their nose, you follow them, as long as it’s safe for everyone.”
2. Bake Your Dog Some Treats
Store-bought treats can get pricey, and they also often contain lots of extra ingredients that aren’t always the healthiest for our dogs. This Valentine’s Day, take your pup to the kitchen for some love-inspired cooking in the form of homemade dog treats. Fido can even help by licking the spoon once or twice during the process!
You don’t need a lot of ingredients to create yummy treats your dog will love. Things like bananas, peanut butter, oats, and pumpkin will do the trick!
Here is a quick one below:
Peanut Butter Banana Dog-Friendly Christmas Cookie Treats
- 1 ⅓ cups brown rice flour (plus extra)
- ⅓ cup plain, natural peanut butter (note: avoid any peanut butter that contains xylitol, as it’s toxic to dogs)
- 1 egg
- 1 ripe banana
- 3 tbsp. organic honey
*Optional: ¼ cup beet powder for red coloring; replace with brown rice flour for a peanut butter cookie color.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine all the ingredients (minus the beet powder) in a large bowl. Stir together until mixed thoroughly.
- Add the beet powder and knead together. (The dough should not be sticky. If it is sticky, add extra rice flour in small increments and knead together with your hands.)
- Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper; top with a second sheet.
- Roll the dough between both sheets to a ¼ inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to stamp shapes from the dough then transfer to the prepared pan. Once the pan is full of cut-outs, place them in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
- Bake the cookies for 10 minutes for 2-inch shapes, 12–15 minutes for larger cookie shapes.
- Let them cool completely.
For more dog-friendly treats, check out this treat recipes article.
3. Plan a Spa Day for Your Dog
Until they invent a spa that caters to both humans and dogs under one roof, the next best option is to offer your pooch a massage at home.
From a behavioral standpoint, spending time with your canine companion with a massage session can certainly help strengthen the human-canine bond, according to Hunter Mayer. “It’s also an ideal way to explore your dog’s body, determine if he or she has sensitive areas, and likes and dislikes with body handling,” she adds.
Just like us, a little massage for your dog can go a long way. By practicing gentle massage techniques, you can help improve your dog’s blood flow, relax the body, increase flexibility, and reduce discomfort and stiffness. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.
A massage is can also be a great pre-workout warm-up or a good way to help with post-workout soreness. It can also help with anxiety, and it might benefit dogs with arthritis. Applying light pressure on your dog’s skin with your palms and moving them in a sweeping motion is all you need to do to help your dog relax and feel better.
4. Teach Your Dog a New Trick
Dogs, no matter the age, are always learning, says Hunter Mayer. “Whether it is passive or active learning, they absorb information through life experiences and their environment,” she explains. “Typically, throughout a dog’s life, they also enjoy being taught specific behaviors — from basic manners to fun tricks.”
If you don’t have the budget or time for a local school or trainer, there are a number of YouTube videos featuring professional dog trainers teaching specific tricks. From obedience tests to scent work to tricks, there’s plenty you can start practicing with your dog this Valentine’s Day.
“All these activities provide both mental and physical enrichment, keeping dogs’ brain and senses active,” Hunter Mayer explains. “Additionally, since the dog and humans are doing it together, this allows for other bonding opportunities.”
5. Spoil Your Dog with a Special Gift
Just like many of us, a little present can make your dog’s day. Here are a few of our favorites:
Nothing says I love you then a stylish sweater that keeps your dog warm and cozy. Made of the softest Aran wool, this sweater is perfect for fall, winter, and spring. Features include a thick turtleneck, two front legs and a knit pattern of cables and textured stitches.
Get your dog settled in for a blissful snooze with this calming spray. Made with lavender and grapefruit, the spray is perfect for creating a relaxing environment for your pup. Just spray on their bed an hour or so before it’s sleep time. Bonus: it eliminates that unpleasant dog bed odor we have all smelled.
6. Give Dog Sports a Try
Do you have a very active dog? There are plenty of options available to keep sporty dogs occupied, no matter their age or fitness level. Dock Diving, agility, Flyball, Tracking, Canine Freestyle, and K9 Nose Work (or other scent-centric sports) are just a few options, according to Hunter Mayer. And Valentine’s Day could be the perfect day to track a class nearby for a trial lesson.
“Providing new activities where the dog needs to think and move can help benefit their body and brain,” she says, adding dog parents should take their pooch to the vet for a health check before trying out a new activity, as some sports are harder on the body than others.
“Start with beginning levels to determine if your dog likes the class, and make sure you go on your own first to check it out to see if it’s something you want to get involved with, as some sports are more active for us as well,” Hunter Mayer says.
7. Make a Donation to an Animal Rescue
As you shower your dog with love and kisses this Valentine’s Day, other dogs out there won’t be as lucky. Why not spread the love so those pups can have a good day (or week) too?
If you have unopened bags of treats, blankets, or toys your dog doesn’t really love anymore at home, find out if your local shelter or rescue would accept them. Same goes for collars or leashes you don’t use anymore.
Don’t have anything to donate? Sponsor an adoption fee or make a donation in your dog’s name. It’s a gift that will keep on giving and honor your own dog as well.