Christmas is great fun for all the family, but how can you get your pup involved too? Here, Lisa Melvin from the pet food experts Webbox, shows you how to create an advent calendar for your dog to get them in the Christmas spirit.

How to create your own pup-friendly advent calendar

Christmas is a time for lots of celebration, good food, and time spent with family and friends. And as many pet owners know, dogs really are part of the family. So, how can you get them involved in the festive cheer? While there are lots of ways, making them their very own dog-friendly advent calendar can really create something special for them — and opening it will be a fun activity for you as well!

There are lots of foods that aren’t suitable or safe for dogs, and it can be confusing to discern what they can eat, so here we’ll go through how you can make a pup-friendly calendar for them.

Choose healthy and tasty ingredients

There are lots of ingredients you can use in your pet’s homemade treats that won’t upset their stomach, and which they will really enjoy. You can also find foods to include that will be a good addition to a healthy diet for your dog, supporting their digestive system as well as giving them something extra to enjoy throughout the lead-up to Christmas.

Anything can be part of your advent calendar, as long as it’s something your pup will enjoy and is safe for them to eat. Think of their favourite healthy foods and choose some that can be cut up small and placed either inside an empty advent calendar or a pouch hung in the kitchen. Using ready-made dog treats will mean you can fill your advent calendar completely at the start of the season, but if you want to use fresh foods, these will need to be placed in the advent calendar that morning for your dog to enjoy. Fresh foods that can be cut up small and placed into an advent calendar include carrots, blueberries, apples, and sweet potato.

Make your own treats

As well as using ready-made dog treats for your advent calendar, you could even blend some sweet potato with xylitol-free peanut butter and oats to create your own fresh treats. There are lots of recipes to try to make fresh dog treats with, but this mixture contains lots of protein and is low in sugar, which is great for your dog. Simply blend equal parts of these ingredients and then portion them into small bites which can be put in the fridge. If you want them to keep for longer, they can also be frozen, so your dog can enjoy them later.

Be sure when making these treats that you only use xylitol-free peanut butter, as this is an ingredient that’s harmful to dogs. You should also make sure to only add one or two of these treats to your dog’s diet per day, as too much rich food can upset their stomach.

Swap some toys for treats

It’s important to remember that although advent calendars normally contain edible treats, you can also mix in some toys so that your advent calendar has some variation and engages your dog in ways other than food. This can be particularly useful for dogs who have more delicate stomachs, or who tend to go off their main meals when treats are introduced.

Chew toys, balls, and ropes can all be fitted into pouches and become Christmas surprises for your pup, and you’ll probably find lots of seasonally themed toys as well, which can add to the fun. Make sure not to include anything too small, as this could be a choking hazard. You might want to also use this as an opportunity to incorporate some training into your morning if you have a young dog, as a new toy might be a great way to keep them paying attention and help them learn.

Use fun, interactive packaging

As well as the contents of your calendar, the packaging should be fun and interactive. A good option for many dogs is to have an advent calendar that is made of fabric pouches. This can be hung on the wall and then you and your dog can pick out the treat for the relevant day. There’s also the option of having a single advent pouch, which your dog can investigate each morning — the repetitive nature of this can be easy for dogs to learn what to expect, and encourages less adventurous dogs to explore their advent treats.

Or, you can create your own cardboard advent calendar with little doors that you and your pup can open. This way, you can decorate it the way you want and personalise it. Make sure to keep your advent calendar in the kitchen or wherever you usually keep your dog's food, and make sure it’s out of reach when not in use. This will prevent them becoming nosy and trying to get at their treats early!