Six ways to celebrate National Dog Day

Teddy sporting his AKC Good Citizen bandana. KARIN SPICER

National Dog Day, as the name suggests, is the celebration of all things dog.

Founded by animal behaviorist Colleen Paige in 2004, this holiday not only celebrates dogs but increases public awareness of those who abuse dogs and other pets. Paige chose Aug. 26 because, when she was 10, that was the day her family adopted her sheltie.

What’s great about this holiday is the multitude of ways, big and small, to recognize it. Here are a few you and your family may want to try:

1. Celebrate all the dogs in your area by donating to your local shelter. Most shelters’ websites have a list of their “must haves.” These can be everything from food and treats to paper towels and postage stamps. Monetary donations of any amount are always welcomed.

My husband, Ed, hates loose change in his pockets. For years, coins were scattered throughout our home in desk drawers, bedside tables, bathroom counters and the washing machine or dryer. We now have a box in his bedside table’s drawer where he unloads the coins every night. Usually in August, he gathers the coins and donates them to a local shelter. Some still get a good washing before they end up in the box.

2. Spoil your dog. This can be anything from taking him on an extra-long walk to tummy rubs and lots of extra praise.

Take your canine to his favorite toy store and let him pick out a new toy or two. A quick trip to Dairy Queen or Ritter’s Frozen Custard for a dog-size ice cream treat can round out the excursion. Better yet, drive through your local Starbucks for a Puppuccino then post a photo of your pal licking up the whipped cream.

3. Sign up for an advanced obedience, agility, behavioral or vocational class for you and your pooch. This can even be a refresher course to keep your canine’s behavior around people and other dogs consistent. An agility course can be a fun way to spend time with your dog, and it’s great exercise, too.

Teddy, our 6-year-old Lab, earned his American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate. The CGC is a 10‑skill training program open to all dogs – purebred and mixed breed. It focuses on good manners and obedience, responsible ownership and strengthening the bond between owner and dog both at home and in the community. According to the American Kennel Club, since 1989, over 1 million dogs and their owners have earned the certificate.

4. Play puzzle games with your dog. Stretch your dog’s mental capabilities by teaching him a new game.

Teddy loves to play “find the treat in the cupcake tin.” We place small pieces of kibble in several wells of an old cupcake tin and cover all the wells with tennis balls. Teddy must pick up the tennis balls to find the treats.

There are puzzles you can make or buy that will have your dog licking, pulling or pushing a door or lever to find a treat.

5. If you have kids or you’re a kid at heart this is a great day to snap fun pictures of your kids, you and your dog to post on your favorite social media sites.

6. Time for some extra loving. According to Dr. Todd-Jenkins at vetstreet.com, the best gift you can give your dog on National Dog Day or any day is some extra cuddles. It will benefit you and show him how much you really care.

Teddy sporting his AKC Good Citizen bandana. KARIN SPICER

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