It’s time to move past the ho-hum Valentine’s Day routine of red roses, boxes of chocolates and dinner reservations at fancy eateries. This year, change things up by including your pup in your Valentine’s Day plans. Wondering exactly how to show your dog you love them? After all, that box of chocolate certainly won’t do. (Chocolate is poisonous to dogs!) Luckily, there are several ways to shower your pup with affection on V-Day—or any day.
“Dogs don’t know what day it is and are not expecting anything, but the love they give you comes from the heart not only on Valentine’s Day, but every day,” says Alice Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, founder and medical director of Pawspice and Animal Oncology Consultation Service, based in Hermosa Beach, California. Her dogs answer to the names of Maddie and Shelby. “How lucky people are to have dogs who bring so much joy into their lives. I know I am more complete with the dogs in my life.”
Unlike dates or mates, your dog will never control the TV remote (OK, they may chew it), and you can always count on your dog to greet you with kisses or cuddles each time you walk in the front door—so vow to book time this Valentine’s Day with your ever-loyal tail wagger. You can still make dinner reservations with your human honey that night, but consider these other Valentine’s Day ideas that’ll show your dog just how special they are to you.
Enjoy Some Couch Cuddle Time
Because weather can be rainy or bone-chillingly cold in Portland, Oregon, Jason “Dr. J” Nicholas, BVetMed (Hons), president and chief medical officer of The Preventive Vet, plans to snuggle on the sofa with Wendy, his 12-year-old Brittany Spaniel/Australian Shepherd mix.
“I hope we can go for a nice long walk along the waterfront and then snuggle in for a little movie watching on the couch,” Dr. Nicholas says.
Recently released canine movies you can binge at home include “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and “A Dog’s Journey.” (Be sure to have a box of tissues handy for either choice!) Keep cozy by snuggling together in a warm and easy-to-wash throw blanket, like the Frisco Sherpa Pet Blanket.
Make Plans for a Getaway
Need a break from work deadlines and demanding relatives? Why not escape for the Valentine’s Day weekend with your dog to a pet-friendly destination? Susan Sims, publisher and co-owner of “Fido Friendly” magazine, suggests mountain, desert and sea destinations. Topping her list are Sage Lodge in Pray, Montana, the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder in New Mexico and Cambria Shores Inn in Cambria, California.
“If your life revolves around your dog, you already treat them like family and you wouldn’t want to leave them home while on vacation,” says Sims, who travels often with her dogs, Junior and Honey.
Travel safely by securing your dog in a car seat, like Solvit Deluxe Pet Safety Seat, before you hit the road. Then, make them feel like a Fido fashionista as they strut into the hotel lobby by outfitting them in a stylish T-shirt. The “Small Dog Big Heart” tee by Parisian Pet and the chevron heart shirt from Mirage Pet Products are both perfectly themed to the holiday.
Enjoy Brunch or Lunch
Start the day off on the right paw by having your well-mannered dog join you for brunch or lunch at a restaurant that has a pet-welcoming patio.
Kona, my sweet 5-year-old terrier mix, assists me in my veterinarian-approved pet first aid classes, as well as therapy pet visits to residents at a local memory care center in Dallas, Texas. She works hard year-round, so I plan to treat her to lunch at one of the 300-plus dog-friendly restaurants here in Dallas. I may even dress her up a bit with Tail Trends’ cupid heart bandana.
If you’ll be in the New York City-area for Valentine’s Day, find the best dog-friendly restaurants in NYC here.
Take a Hike
When it comes to how to show your dog you love them, sometimes the best ways are the simplest. If the weather permits, schedule extra walk time on Valentine’s Day with your dog. Intentionally select a scenic location that allows pups the opportunity to take in new sights, sounds and smells. And consider going with a hands-free leash, like Tuff Mutt’s Hands-Free Bungee Leash, that’s designed to offer you more stability on rough or rocky terrain.
“An extra-long walk or hike, a fun game of fetch or even swimming are great ways to get both of your hearts pumping on Valentine’s Day,” says Dawn Celapino, founder and owner of Leash Your Fitness, a San Diego, California-based company that hosts people-dog workout classes.
School Your Dog
Valentine’s Day can be the ideal time to introduce your dog to a new trick. You’ll get to spend extra time together, and your dog can show off their new skills. Win-win, right?
One of my favorite books to turn to when I want to add to Kona’s trick repertoire is called, “The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever” by Larry Kay and Chris Perondi. It contains a step-by-step, illustrated guide to 118 tricks. Kona now can “hug me” on cue before our pet behavior talks with kids, and I hope to get her to consistently jump into my arms by Valentine’s Day.
Ahhh... Spa Time
Set aside an hour or so to treat your dog to a head-to-tail massaging to ease any sore muscles or achy joints. Help them relax with the soothing massage techniques explained here, while playing some music and speaking in a calm, encouraging tone during the experience. Be sure to also bring some bite-sized Valentine’s Day dog treats, like Blue Buffalo’s Be Mine Bars Cupid’s Cookies dog treats, to dole out from start to finish.
You may also want to consider booking a “spa day” for your dog at a local dog grooming salon with a reputation for pampering pooches.
Become a Canine Chef
The way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach. Say the word “treat” and most dogs will happily coming running your way. For this Valentine’s Day idea, don your apron and make some homemade, healthy doggy treats like Marvelous Mutt Meatballs from my book, “Real Food for Dogs,” or order a bag of treats in advance. Among Kona’s favorites are Stella & Chewy’s Chicken Meal Mixers Dog Food Topper and Stewart Pro-Treat Turkey Liver Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats.
You can even whip up some treats themed to the holiday. Try our DIY dog treat recipe for pet-friendly conversation hearts here.
Whatever you choose, remember a little goes a long way. Be careful not to overfeed your pup their Valentine’s Day dog treats to avoid weight gain or tummy troubles.
“You don’t need to make a giant cake for your dog on Valentine’s Day,” says Celapino, who shares her San Diego home with a fast-growing Cairn Terrier named Jack “Break the treats into small pieces and hide them. Play hide-and-seek with the treats to get your dog to work their nose and make it a fun adventure.”