According to new research from Guide Dogs, British dog owners are estimated to spend more than £1.3 billion on gifts for their dog this Christmas. More than half, however, admit to being worried about the cost of presents this year, yet ultimately expect to spend an average of £101 on gifts for their dogs.
To save money for presents, almost four in ten owners (38%) said they saved up throughout the year for their dog’s gift, while 36% will cut back on how many people they give Christmas gifts to. A further quarter (26%) of dog owners even admitted that they will ditch a Secret Santa with friends and decline party invitations to prioritise the pounds this Christmas.
As a result, almost a third (30%) say that they are looking for ways to cut back this Christmas and curb spending while still treating their dogs.
In response, Guide Dogs has created a series of tips and advice for how to make your own gifts this festive season.
Helen Whiteside, Guide Dogs' Assistant Director Breeding, Puppy Raising and Science, says, “Canine enrichment activities, toys and homemade gifts can be a perfect way to keep spending under control this Christmas.
“We want to reassure dog owners that you don’t need to break the bank to give your dogs a fun festive season. DIY ideas for puzzles and games using items many people already have at home can help ensure your dog is keeping his brain engaged and expressing enjoyable natural behaviours like playing, foraging and chasing.
“For food-based games, make sure treats come out of your dog’s daily meal allowance, and to be sure to supervise your dog at all times with any of these activities.”
Here’s some ideas to keep your dog entertained on a budget this Christmas
Homemade snuffle mat
Get your hands on a rubber shower mat or outdoor rubber mat with holes, and an old fleece or jumper.
Cut the fleece into long strips of around 5cm wide and knot the strips through each hole of the mat.
Keep going until you fill in all the holes.
When completed, hide tiny bits of your dogs’ favourite foods among the strands and then let your pup sniff them out with your encouragement.
Foraging for toys
This is the best way to satisfy your dog’s natural urge to hunt, problem-solve and play, and you don’t need to spend any money! Grab a big cardboard box from one of your online Christmas shopping purchases and fill it with scrunched up newspaper and cardboard kitchen and loo rolls. Hide your dog’s favourite treats and toys inside and encourage them to get searching!
The muffin tin game
You’ll need a muffin tin and a ball for each cup in the tin - a tennis ball is a great size for most dogs but consider your dog’s breed and what might be a choking hazard.
To start, fill each muffin cup with treats and let your dog paw the goodies out.
Once they’ve got the hang of this, and learned that they can find goodies in those spaces, repeat the above and cover the treats with the balls. Your dog will have to remove each ball to get at the treat underneath.
To make it harder, test your dog by putting food under only some of the balls, so they have to sniff out the treats too.
Dogs are great! But have you ever wondered how you could have a dog without the usual time and financial commitment? Let us tell you how.
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