Sometimes I feel like Boogie, Marcelo and I fall into the same old patterns and routines – the same walks, same snacks, same Netflix and chill. It’s easy and comfortable, but not particularly exciting. So whenever that happens and we feel ourselves turning into dog and mom zombies, we like to switch it up. I personally loath routine, and to be honest I think the furbabies appreciate the mental and physical stimulation of fresh activities too.
And remember the worst thing about dogs?
They don’t live as long as we do! That means we really have to make every day count to fully enjoy their short time with us.
Ok, it’s true that rituals are nice and sentimental – we’ll never give up our nighttime snuggling routine – but this year we’ve decided to sprinkle in a little added nuance. You should too! Make this year extra meaningful for you and your pups by doing these 52 dog-friendly activities. We’ve got one for every week!
A year of spending time with your dog is a year well spent. Enjoy these 52 activities with your best furry friend.
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Week 1: Get hygge together
Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word used to describe the Scandinavian concept of coziness. It’s the perfect heavy blanket, the perfect thick socks, or the perfectly plump pug snoring on your chest.
Pronounced “hoo-ga,” hygge is about embracing well-being by enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Get hygge with a cup of cocoa by the fire with your pup, or by snuggling under a blanket together with a good book. I’ve noticed that Marcelo especially loves getting hygge by wedging himself into tight, soft spaces, like between my legs or nearly hidden beneath a pile of pillows. Other ways to get hygge include:
- Lighting a nicely scented candle.
- Throw blankets galore – one in every room!
- Sipping hot cups of tea, mulled wine, or cocoa.
- Spending time with your pup in a nook or your favorite armchair.
Week 2: Pick up a hobby
Start the year off by learning something new and picking up a hobby. It’s a great way to keep active and stimulate your brain. Like we said before, routine is nice, but there is nothing like learning something new. It just feels good!
There are plenty of hobby and activity spaces that welcome dogs too. Why not pick up a new interest with your dog at your side?
Some favorites include:
- Knitting and/or crocheting
- Rock climbing
- Doga (dog yoga!)
Week 3: Learn a new trick
I shouldn’t even have to go over the benefits of learning a new trick, BUT….the perks of learning new tricks are two fold.
One, your dog will enjoy mental stimulation. A thoughtful dog is a healthy, happy and satisfied dog. Dogs are like humans, and if you don’t exercise their noggins they can get bored and even depressed.
And two, you’ll spend extra time bonding together. Enhance your relationship and your dog’s good behavior by practicing a trick.
If your pup has the basics down, try something new and fun like learning to hug or kiss on demand. These tricks come in perfect for the ‘gram.
Week 4: Try a dog-friendly recipe
Push the boring kibble aside and bust out your baking hat. For once your pup will be able to enjoy what comes out of the oven with some homemade treats.
Pro tip: Use the homemade treats to practice the new trick your pup learned in Week 3!
Week 5: Make a new friend
Head outside and befriend other dogs and their owners. Scary, right? I know, but the truth is dogs are like social lubricant – they make meeting people easy!
Besides a good sniff and play, you’ll reap the perks of meeting fellow dog lovers. Dog owners know best and they’re a great resource to have. Get them to share their favorite hangouts, their favorite dog-friendly restaurants, and which vets they trust the most.
Here are some of our favorite places to meet new friends:
- Visit a dog park.
- Join an online community.
- Go to a dog-friendly event.
Week 6: Visit a new pet store
Not all pet stores are created equal. Check out what a different pet store has to offer. Your dog will enjoy a treat for their senses (the smells! the new dogs! the treats!) and you might find an item or two you never knew you needed.
It’s also super fun to see your dog’s reaction when they walk into a pet store they didn’t know was coming.
Related: The Best Dog Stores In NYC
Week 7: Take a road trip
Whether it’s a half hour drive around the neighborhood, or a multi-day extended trip, hitting the open road is a great way to get out there with your pup.
If you haven’t been on many road trips with your dog yet, start small. Let them get used to the movements and stimulation of the open road on short trips before you start playing the license plate game together over a multi-day long haul.
Remember to keep all four paws and ears inside the car at all times.
Week 8: Spruce up your dog wardrobe
Whether it’s a flashy new collar, a sophisticated bandana, or a warm, cozy sweater, your dog could always use a new addition to their wardrobe. Get an upgrade and grab some new dog garb.
You can keep it simple (a bandana) or go all out (a new jumpsuit). Either way, your pup will appreciate it and might even get a little extra pep in their step as they model the new rags.
On a budget? Hit up one of these places.
Week 9: Read a dog-themed book
Give Netflix a break and curl up with your dog and a good book. Our suggestion, obviously, would be to make sure that said book is dog-themed and relevant.
Our favorites include classics like Marley & Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain.
If you’re in need of more suggestions, check out our Doggy Book Club: Books For Dog Lovers.
Week 10: Play a scent game
Did you know that newborn puppies are born with a fully developed sense of smell? That’s right, they can’t walk or open their eyes, but they can sniff out that cheeseburger you had for dinner.
While we mortal humans have six million olfactory receptors, our dogs have up to 300 million! Plus, the part of their brain that analyzes smell is 40 times larger than ours. That’s gotta count for something!
Scent is often overlooked when training a dog, but it’s a great way to keep them active while having a bit of fun. Some scent games you can easily play at home include:
- Scavenger Hunt – hide treats randomly around the house and let your dog sniff them out.
- Pick a Hand – put a small treat in one hand, and hold both hands out in fists. Let your pup sniff out the hand with food before opening.
Week 11: Have a spa day
Pamper your pooch with a relaxing spa day. If it’s in your budget, book them a session at the groomers. If not, plan your spa day at home! Light candles, whip out the dog brush, and clean out their ears. End your session with a gentle ear massage and a belly rub. A good grooming will leave them relaxed, and smelling and looking fresh!
Week 12: Go camping
Camping is a great way to spend time in nature and awaken your dog’s senses. All of the new outdoor smells will do a doggy good!
Buy or borrow a tent and go on a camping trip together. Roast hotdogs, snuggle in a sleeping bag, and eat s’mores. Keep the chocolate out of reach, and bring plenty of dog-friendly mosquito repellent. Most important of all, don’t forget the flea and tick prevention.
Week 13: Read a dog blog
As a dog parent, there’s always room to grow. Dog blogs can be fun to read, and also super informative. It’s always cool to hear about other dog parents’ experiences, learn from their mistakes and share in their successes. Scroll through some of your favorites (ahem this one), or check out some new ones on the world wide web.
Someone once told me that 50% of the internet is cats, 10% is miscellaneous, and 40% is, well, you don’t wanna know. Together we can change that! Dog bloggers of the world should at least beat cats right?
Week 14: Donate gently used items to your local shelter
Spring cleaning helps you minimize clutter while supporting your local animal shelter.
Go through your house and collect items that you and your pup no longer use. Donating them to your local shelter is a much better option than either letting them collect dust at home or tossing them in the trash. Shelters and rescues are always in need of things such as:
- Pet food and treats
- Pet beds
- Cleaning supplies
- Dog toys
- Harnesses, leashes, and collars
- Crates and carriers
Week 15: Go to a dog-friendly meet up
Social calendars have gone to the dogs!
There are dog-friendly events popping up all across the United States, like pup-ups, dog socials, and all kinds of parties. Some events welcome all dogs, while others are divided by activity level, breed, dog size, and/or age.
Great places to look for meet ups in your area include Facebook, meetup.com, and Instagram.
If you’re in the New York City area, check out our dog-friendly event calendar.
Week 16: Share a cocktail
OK, pause before reacting – we know that dogs can’t drink alcohol. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a delicious cocktail while your pup sips on a specialty mocktail! With new dog-friendly beer and wine on the market, you’ll no longer have to drink alone.
For humans, try one of the following recipes:
- The Greyhound – 1.5 oz vodka + 3 oz grapefruit juice.
- The Salty Dog – 1.5 oz gin or vodka + 3 oz grapefruit juice + rimming salt.
- The Bloodhound Martini – 1/3 oz gin + 1/3 oz French vermouth + 1/3 oz Italian vermouth.
For dogs, check out these options below.
Price: $13.99Was: $15.99
Week 17: Go on a bar crawl
Let’s keep the alcohol theme alive, shall we? But in moderation, of course.
There are plenty of bars that welcome dogs, and unlike restaurants, many allow dogs inside. It’s a great way to enjoy both puppies and pints. So grab your dog and head to the local watering hole, where you’ll enjoy booze and they’ll slurp down cold, fresh water. Or, bring along one of the dog-friendly beverages that you picked up in Week 16.
If you’re in New York City, check out this dog-friendly bar crawl on the Lower East Side.
Week 18: Plan a dog-friendly vacation
A vacation is an obvious and great way to relax, unwind, and bond with your dog.
But hey, if you need a little help planning the perfect getaway, don’t fret. That’s what this website is all about! We have plenty of resources to help you plan the perfect trip. Pick a dog-friendly destination, check out what activities they have to offer, and head out.
If you need a little inspiration to get you going, check out our interview series featuring other dog travelers around the world.
Week 19: Play a sport
Dogs love to be active, and there are plenty of sports that allow both of you to break a sweat (or pant) at the same time. Try running, a game of frisbee, or bike riding.
I’ll be honest. I don’t love breaking a sweat. So for that reason, or if you have a less active dog (sure, blame it on the dog) try kayaking or canoeing!
Week 20: Get coffee at an outdoor cafe
I’m a big fan of sitting down and having a coffee. This small ritual is relaxing, and equally so for my dog, who enjoys sitting at my feet. It’s a great way to slow down, people watch, and just enjoy a hot (or cold) beverage and good company.
Pro tip: may be combined with snacks.
Week 21: Have an urban adventure
If you live in a city, whether big or small, there’s always something new to explore. Hop on the subway, grab a bus, or walk around a new neighborhood. Urban adventures include any sort of activity that’s not the norm for you. Ideas include:
- Hiking a new trail
- Visiting a new park
- Going on coffeeshop crawl
- Exploring a new area of the city
Week 22: Plan a dog playdate
Keep up with your furry pals by planning a pup-date. It’ll keep your pup social and tire them out while you get in some good old quality dog parent chat time.
Pup dates can be organized at local parks or in someone’s home. They’re the perfect activity to get the wiggles out on a rainy day.
Week 23: Play a game of tug-o-war
A fun game of tug-o-war can be a great work out for both you and your dog. If played correctly, it can also be great for canine teeth and muscles. As long as your dog has healthy boundaries and you are in control, playing is ok and even beneficial. Grab a rope toy and get at it!
Note: you don’t have to put your end of the rope in your mouth, but if you want to, no judgements.
Don’t have a rope toy at home? Check out one of these:
Price: $9.87Was: $13.87
Price: Check on Amazon
Price: $14.44Was: $16.99
Week 24: Go to a dog-friendly brewery
Breweries are usually dog-friendly, and luckily, there’s been a wave of new craft breweries popping up all across the country in the past decade. Besides offering an array of delicious brews, many breweries also hold fun events and social activities. They’re a great place to spend an afternoon.
If you’re in the NYC area, check out these local dog-friendly breweries.
Week 25: Go on a hike
Hiking is a fun way to exercise and spend time in nature. It’s also something that everyone can enjoy, from beginners to the more outdoorsy types, and from small dogs to large dogs.
Check out local trails and difficulty levels before embarking on a hike. Be sure to always carry a pet first aid kit and water!
Live in a city? No problem. You can still hit the trails. Big cities like Los Angeles and New York City offer local hikes. With smaller cities, a great hike is often just a car ride away.
Week 26: Visit a new park
Visiting your local park is always fun, but a new park has all the added benefit and excitement of unchartered territory. It has unique smells and will almost certainly get your pup excited.
Head to a park you’ve never been to before and explore the area. Watch as your dog plants a new flag (aka pees) and claims that territory as their own. You might discover a new favorite spot, or meet some great local dogs.
Week 27: Take a boat ride
Who doesn’t love a day out on the open sea?
Ok, maybe some people don’t like boats. But for those of you that do, a boat ride introduces your pup to new smells, and the biggest puppy pool your dog has ever seen. Hop on a water taxi, local ferry, or a tour boat if you don’t have access to a ride of your own.
And of course, safety first! Whenever we practice water sports, like kayaking or even lounging around on a fishing boat (yes, we’ve done that too!) we like to keep Boogie and Marcelo in doggy life vests. Besides being an important precaution, they’re also super cute.
Here are some great doggy life vests options:
Price: $14.88Was: $39.99
Week 28: Go to the beach
Everyone loves the beach, including dogs! Sandy fur and wet paws make for a great day. Head to a local beach and let your dog soak up the sun and surf.
We’ve got a full list of tips for taking your dog to the beach if you’ve never been, but here are a few sneak peak items that we think are most important:
- Beware of overheating – shade is your friend.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Don’t let your dog eat sand or drink saltwater.
- When you get home, rinse off that saltwater.
Week 29: Eat at a dog-friendly restaurant
Break bread with your buddy and enjoy a meal out on the town. Many restaurants allow diners to bring their dogs as long as they remain within outdoor patio areas. And luckily, plenty of dog-friendly dining options are popping up across the country, like dog cafes and breweries. Some even offer dog menus!
This is also where proper training comes in (aka, Week 3). Your dog is likely to receive a far warmer welcome if they’re well behaved, which you might demonstrate with some handy little tricks like sit, wait, lie down, etc.
If you’re in the New York City area, check out these dog-friendly restaurants that have their own dog menus.
Week 30: Enjoy a water sport
Cool your paws and enjoy time on the water with your pup.
There are many water sports, both for the super active and calmer type of pup. Try one of these fun dog-friendly water sports: swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, or sailing.
Again, don’t forget about safety! Even though the dog below is totally killing it, we’d still like to see them in a life vest.
Week 31: Visit a National Park
There are 62 National Parks in the United States, and most allow pets! They’re a great place to explore and be active. Dog-friendly activities include hiking, camping, swimming and picnicking.
When visiting, your dog can even become an official B.A.R.K. Ranger. Many National Parks offer the B.A.R.K. Ranger Program for people and pets who have pledged to keep the parks clean and safe. This fancy little acronym spells out the principles of the program, which are:
Bag your pet’s waste.
Always use a leash.
Know where you can go.
Week 32: Enjoy some dog-friendly ice cream
This sweet treat is a great way to cool down on a hot summer day, for both humans and pups.
If your local ice cream shop or pet store doesn’t carry dog ice cream, then make your own! Our favorite dog ice cream recipe calls for only one ingredient. Can you guess what it is?
It’s the easiest dog ice cream you’ll ever make. Plus, it’s human-friendly!
Week 33: Have a picnic
A picnic at a nice park is a great way to enjoy a meal and relax with your pup. Plus, you can bring food that you can both share. Pack a bunch of dog-friendly fruits, like watermelon or apples (skip the grapes!), sandwiches for you and chicken jerky for them, and plenty of fresh water. Don’t forget an umbrella or scope out a big tree for some shade!
Week 34: See an outdoor movie
Many cities offer outdoor screenings in parks or along waterways. Sometimes small towns even still have drive-in theaters.
Kick it up a notch and watch a dog movie! Here’s a list of films that feature pugs. In our opinion, every single one should have won an Oscar.
Week 35: Take a class together
A dog class helps you bond with your pup and keeps you both entertained. Plus, you both get to learn something new. And remember that thing about mental stimulation? It’s so important!
Sign up for a class at your local dog school. Try out Barkour (dog-friendly parkour) or agility. For something a little less active, you can enroll in a therapy dog training class or obedience. These kinds of skills will also come in handy when you want to visit that brewery or dog-friendly restaurant on your list.
If you’re in the New York City area, check out these awesome agility courses.
Week 36: Have a fall-themed photoshoot
The cooler weather and change in season means it’s time to bust out your favorite sweater and enjoy the crisp fall air. You can distract your dog from pooping in a pile of leaves by planning a fall-themed photoshoot. Get a pumpkin, a plaid bandana or shirt, and a pumpkin spiced latte and go nuts. Do it for the ‘gram.
Week 37: Go on a long walk
A long walk is a great way to exercise and sniff new spots. Trying taking a new route to a favorite destination, or letting your dog lead the way on a surprise walk. Don’t forget water, comfortable shoes, and poop bags.
Our trainer recently explained to us why it’s so important to change up our walking routes. Basically, it has to do with anxiety and expectations. If your pup recognizes the route, and knows for example that they’re on their way to the dog park, then they’re more likely to get over-excited and pull.
So switch it up! Take the long way! By the time you get to your destination (if you have one in mind), your dog will have been so taken by the new route and smells that the treat at the end of the walk will be like icing on the cake.
Week 38: Rent a cabin in the woods
Head to nature and rent a dog-friendly cabin in the woods. A weekend away with a bit of isolation will give you the space and time to think and bond with your dog. Plus, there’ll be plenty of trees to pee on and hikes to enjoy.
We’ve got plenty of tips for hikes and camping, and one of the biggest ones is protecting yourself and your pups from mosquitos, fleas and ticks. We get our mosquito repellent here and Boogie and Marcelo both use this flea and tick prevention. Don’t forget!
Week 39: Solve a dog puzzle
Dog puzzles are a new and fun way to entertain your dog. They’re a great way to stimulate your dogs brain. Many come with different levels, so your dog can advance as they figure things out. Set a timer and see how long it takes your pup to figure them out.
Don’t have one? Try some of these:
Price: $14.32Was: $24.99
Week 40: Go apple-picking
Fall means it’s apple season! Enjoy the fresh air and pick your own produce. Apples are not only delicious, but they’re dog-friendly, so your pup can enjoy them too.
If you’re in the New York/New Jersey area, check out these dog-friendly farms to go apple-picking.
Week 41: Wear a twinning outfit
Matching with your pup puts your best friendship on display, in the best possible way. There’s nothing cooler than #twinning!
If you’re into being nauseatingly cute, wear something bold, like matching sweaters or shirts. If you want to bring it down a notch and be more subtle, match your pup’s bandana to your shirt or hair bow. This is of course a matter of preference, but we think the bolder the better!
Week 42: Try a new Kong recipe
Make your dog work for their food and surprise them with a Kong. Kongs are a great way to keep your pup busy, keep their minds sharp, and their life enjoyable. They provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog, which is just as important as physical exercise.
If you need some new Kong stuffing ideas, check out these easy and healthy Kong recipes we shared. These days Boogie and Marcelo have been going nuts (pun intended) for peanut-butter and banana stuffed Kongs!
Don’t have a Kong? Get one here:
Week 43: Carve dog-themed pumpkins
Carving pumpkins is a fun and festive way to prepare for the holidays. Carve a dog themed design into your pumpkin, and show it off to your neighbors. You can find many free templates online or get creative and invent your own.
Bonus: use the leftovers to make pumpkin spice dog treats and pumpkin pie!
Week 44: Dress up for Halloween
Get in the Halloween spirit and dress up your pooch!
This one is obvious, but sometimes a fresh idea is hard to come by. Need help? We’ve got you covered! Check out one of these posts:
- Family Halloween Costume Ideas That Include Your Dog!
- 21 Great Halloween Costumes For Your Dog
- The 10 Best Dog Halloween Costumes on Amazon
- Dog Halloween Costumes for Every Type of Dog Owner
Week 45: Have a sleepover
Sleepovers are the best, and that includes dog slumber parties. You can groom each other’s fur, bark about your crushes, bake treats, and watch as many movies as you like (dogs always let you choose!).
Be the anti mean girls and invite someone over for your sleepover, like a foster. Taking in a foster for the night and giving a dog a break from the shelter is fun for your pup, plus, you’ll be helping a dog in need. Many rescues ofter short term fostering. This includes short stints like fostering over the weekend, or during the holidays.
If a night seems like too much right now, check out animal centers that let you take a dog out for just the day. It’s fun, will keep your pup social, and will be giving a pup some much needed time in a loving environment.
Week 46: Try a new dog product
New dog products pop up on the market all the time. These products aren’t only fun and new, but many also make our lives easier as dog parents. Our recent favorites include CBD treats for calming anxiety, dog backpacks (like the K9 Sport Sack) and new cooling gear. Check out the latest fads and see if your pup would benefit.
Week 47: Learn new ways to say “I love you” to your dog
Ok sure, your dog won’t necessarily understand if you say the words “I love you,” but there are ways to communicate the sentiment and show you love them. Remember that book about the five love languages? Well, canines have specific love languages too! Try one of the following:
- Rub their ears – this stimulates the release of endorphins.
- Lean on them – if your dog leans on you, it’s their way of seeking affection, sort of like giving a doggy hug. You can lean right back to share the same sentiment. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
- Gaze into their eyes – stare into their eyes while petting them gently and raising your eyebrow. Of course, only do this with a dog you know and trust!
Week 48: Go shopping
Holiday shopping is more fun with a pup at your side. Plenty of stores are dog-friendly, and welcome pups to browse the aisles on leash or in a shopping cart. There are also dog-friendly holiday markets that pop up throughout the season.
Related: Dog-Friendly Shopping in NYC
Week 49: Give your dog a gentle massage
Is dog massage a thing? Yep, it is. Just as humans enjoy massage, dogs like a good rub down too. It’s a relaxing, bonding activity. Plus, it can increase your dog’s circulation, aid digestion, and stimulate the kidneys and liver, among other things. Dog massages promote over all well-being, and it’s a nice, gentle activity to do together.
Afterwards, train your dog to repay the favor by walking on your back!
Week 50: Organize a dog-themed holiday gift exchange!
What do you get when you combine gift giving with a fun game night? Secret Santa!
Get your best dog friends together and organize a night of gift exchanges. You can give pet products to the pups and dog-themed products for humans.
If you want to make things real funky, do a White Elephant instead. Let the dogs do the choosing!
Either game is a great way to get in the holiday spirit.
Week 51: Netflix & Chill
Ok, I know we started this post by saying that we Netflix and chill a little bit too much, but hey, it’s winter time, the holidays are winding down, and the year is coming to an end.
Get a little R&R (rest and relaxation!) by putting on some comfy pajamas and plopping down on the couch with a good Netflix show. Remember how to get hygge, aka, Week 1? Throw in a blanket, your dog, and some snacks for an upgrade.
Don’t forget to let Netflix know that yes, you’re still watching. So patronizing, am I right?
Week 52: Ring in the New Year together
Ring in the New Year with your best friend by your side. After all, dog’s lives are short, and every year with them is something to celebrate. Give them extra snuggles and reassurance if they’re scared of fireworks, or keep them away from loud noises all together.
Happy New Year!
Congratulations! You’ve just spent a full year bonding with your dog!
Are there any fun dog activities that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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