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5 Fun Ways to Spoil Your Pup — for Pennies!

It doesn't take a lot of time or money to show your pooch how much he means to you!

Your sweet pup brings you so much joy, from companionship and sweet kisses to cuddles and plenty of laughs. And March 23, National Puppy Day, is the perfect day to show your sweetie just how much she’s loved. Thankfully, it’s easy to make a dog’s day without spending a lot of cash. Below you’ll find fun ideas on how to spoil your pup — whether on National Puppy Day or any day!

How to celebrate National Puppy Day

“You don’t have to break the bank to spoil your dog,” says Brandi Hunter of the American Kennel Club (AKC). “There are many things you can do to show your dog you care.”

Whip up a frozen treat

A dog eating a frozen treat

One way to make your pup’s day and keep him entertained as he’s chowing down? A homemade ice pop. Try this easy recipe from the AKC: Layer peanut butter in the bottom half of ice cube trays or ice pop molds, top with a layer of plain yogurt or meat broth and freeze until solid.

Pop a treat out of the tray and give to your pup as a special “I love you” snack. He’ll especially appreciate the frosty treat on steamy days! (Click through for more pupsicle recipes.)

Play together

Dog playing with a toy on a string

Is Fido is always a bundle of energy or just seems a bit restless and bored? Certified dog trainer Victoria Schade, author of Who Rescued Who, shares how to brighten your dog’s day: “One of the best ways is with ‘novel enrichment,’ or trying out new fun stuff.” One idea: Attach a string to one of his toys and let him chase it. “It’s a great way to tap into a dog’s natural drive,” she says, and dogs love the thrill of the chase!

Another easy idea: Take two old, clean tube socks and place an empty plastic water bottle inside each one. Knot the sock closed at the end, then fling it to your pal. Fido will forget all about your slippers as he chews on and plays with his fun, new toy.

Serve tasty treats

Homemade dog treats

Spoil a pup who loves snack time with treats! You don’t even need to shell out for pricey store-bought goodies. Veterinarian Marty Becker, DVM, founder of Fear Free Pets, shares his easy recipe for Ma Barker’s Cookies.

To make: Mix 2 beaten eggs, 3 Tbs. of molasses, 1⁄4 cup of vegetable oil, 1⁄4 cup of milk, 1 cup of rolled oats, 3⁄4 cup of wheat germ, 1⁄4 cup of whole-wheat flour and 1⁄2 cup of artificial bacon bits. Drop, by teaspoon, on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Let dry until crunchy. Store in an air-tight container.

Cuddle together

A woman and dog cuddling

Snuggling with your pup is a great way to boosting your bond. Even more good news? One study found that people who had interacted with their dog experienced less anxiety and more positive feelings than their counterparts — regardless of how long they had owned their pet. For many dogs, physical touch (like cuddling and pets) is their love language, according to a Rover survey.

The secret to making sure your pup is just as happy to snuggle: Schade advises a “touch test” to see if he’s in the mood for touch. To do: Pet your dog on the chest for three seconds, then stop. If he wants more, he’ll probably lean in. If not, he’ll just stand there or walk away. “Recognizing what your dog is saying will lead to a more joyful pup!” says Schade.

Take some photos

A cute puppy  on the ground

National Puppy Day is a great time for a photo shoot with your pet.We asked pet photographer Mark McQueen for the secrets to getting those frame-worthy shots of Rover. Here, his top tips:

1. Wear him out

Puppies or active breeds are going to be less inclined to sit still for a portrait. But allowing them to get all of that energy out first can help. “A tired dog is more likely to stay in one place, so I hold off on shots that require it until after all the playful action shots are done,” says McQueen. “We might also take the dog outside and run them a bit.”

You can also consider putting your pup on a pedestal (like a tall stool or narrow table) just high enough that he’ll at least hesitate before jumping off. Just be ready to stop him if necessary!

2. Take more photos than you think you need

When it comes to pet photography, you can never have too many pictures! This is especially true if you have a young dog on your hands. “Puppies don’t follow instructions well, so keep your finger on the trigger and watch for prime moments,” shares McQueen. “Afterward, take the time to edit out all the obvious rejects.”

3. Make the right noises

If your pup won’t look at the camera, there are a few tricks you can employ to get his attention. First, try mimicking the sounds of zoo animals. “But each sound works only once, so you need to be focused and ready before employing each one, and have a lot of them in your repertoire,” he advises.

Even if your pup is looking in your general direction, you might want to get direct eye contract for your portrait. “That’s why I have a squeaky toy attached to my camera while shooting dogs,” adds McQueen. “This is especially useful with puppies, but shoot fast and be prepared for him to lunge at your camera!”

4. Snap a unique angle

Really want to make your photo of Fido look impressive? Get low! McQueen’s favorite angle is getting pictures from on the ground. “I love this angle because it’s not how we usually see our pets; it makes them look larger than life and it gives you more of the environment,” he explains. You can also use a wide-angle lens for those close-ups which can exaggerate your pup’s snout but leads to a a great shot.

For more dog information, keep reading!

Can Dogs Understand Human Language? What the Science Says About “Dognition”

Why Does My Dog Stare at Me? Veterinarian Explains What They’re Trying to Tell You

How to Stop a Dog From Digging: Vets Reveal 4 Easy Ways to Stop the Behavior for Good

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