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Unfortunately, we can't all be there on the day of our dog's birth. Some of us don't even know our dogs' actual birth date because they were adopted from a shelter. But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate them each year.
Afterall, the benefits of pet ownership are clear; your dog enhances your quality of life, reduces stress, and gives you a purpose — all great reasons to celebrate the day you made them a member of your family. So whether or not you know when your dog was born, you can always celebrate your love for your pet by making sure they have a happy Gotcha Day.
But what is a Gotcha Day, and how can you celebrate your dog on this occasion? Keep reading to learn more about what a dog Gotcha Day is and get some handy tips to help you celebrate.
What Is Gotcha Day For Dogs?
Your dog's Gotcha Day is the anniversary of their adoption. Since many pet parents who adopt their dogs from shelters or rescues don't actually know when their dogs were born, a Gotcha Day is a great time to celebrate your dog and the day they came into your life.
Even if you know your dog's birthday, you can still wish them a happy Gotcha Day to celebrate your life together. For some pet parents, this day is more important than their dog's actual birthday because it represents the anniversary of when they brought their beloved canine companion home.
How To Celebrate Your Dog's Gotcha Day
A happy Gotcha Day for dogs can be anything you want it to be, as long as you can spend this time together. You know your dog best, so pick an activity or activities that will make you both happy. And remember, you don't have to celebrate your dog's Gotcha Day on the exact date. Instead, we recommend planning an entire day together. Here are a few ways to celebrate your dog's Gotcha Day:
1. Do something active & fun
Make a list of your dog's favorite activities and plan to do them all. For instance, you can extend their walk in the morning, go to the dog park for some off-leash fun, set up an agility course in the yard, or go camping together.
Many dogs love being active with their human companions because it allows them to bond. Plus, spending some time outside with your dog can help them stay calm and happy on this day.
2. Plan a playdate
Dogs are often social animals that enjoy spending time with friends. If your dog has friends, you can plan a playdate with all of their buddies and let them play in the yard until they tire themselves out. Of course, you should monitor your dog any time they're playing with another dog, especially one they're not familiar with.
3. Host a Gotcha Day party
If you want to plan an all-out playdate, consider hosting a party and inviting all your dog's friends and family, including humans and other dogs. Your Gotcha Day party doesn't have to be extravagant. Instead, consider making a dog cake with safe ingredients like peanut butter, carob, and pumpkin, or you can purchase a dog cake mix from a local or online pet shop.
4. Bake your dog's favorite treat
Baking your dog a cake or making homemade dog treats lets your dog know just how much you care. Additionally, you can customize your dog treats any way you like based on their particular preferences or health needs. For instance, if your dog suffers from diabetes, you can make homemade dog treats that are healthier for them.
5. Paint a pet portrait
If you're artistic, you might consider painting your dog or commissioning someone to paint them for you. You can also find pet portrait options online to turn your dog into an amusing piece of art for your home. A pet portrait will provide long-lasting memories of the love you share with your dog.
6. Donate time or resources to your local animal shelter
Your dog was one of the lucky ones who got adopted, but there are still many more dogs in need. According to pet adoption statistics, only 4.1 million out of the 6.3 million dogs and cats in shelters find a home every year. That leaves more than 2 million without one.
While you might not be able to adopt another dog, you can still volunteer your time or money to a local animal shelter to celebrate your own dog's Gotcha Day. Your donations will help ensure animals in shelters can one day celebrate their own Gotcha Days with new pet parents who love them just as much as you love your dog.
7. Post a loving message on your social media
If you're a dog lover, we bet most people in your life are dog lovers and want to wish you and your beloved canine companion a happy Gotcha Day. You can plan a photoshoot or choose your favorite photo of the two of you together with Gotcha Day quotes for dogs from other dog lovers around the world.
If you need a few ideas to help you choose the best quote, here are a few of our favorites:
- "Like many other much-loved humans, they believed that they owned their dogs, instead of realizing that their dogs owned them." — Dodie Smith, The Hundred and One Dalmatians
- "Before you get a dog, you can't quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can't imagine living any other way." — Caroline Knapp, Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs
- "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." — Roger Caras, A Dog Is Listening: The Way Some of Our Closest Friends View Us
8. Let them pick out a toy and treat
Getting a gift for your pet is one of the best ways to celebrate them. You can take your dog to a local pet store and let them choose their own toys or treats. Of course, a day trip to the local store isn't a good idea for all dogs, so consider your dog's temperament before you take them in public. Some dogs can get anxious in pet stores and in public, so if that's the case, we recommend ordering your dog's favorite treats or new toys online and having them shipped to your house.
You can also wrap your dog's presents and let them tear into the wrapping paper as a fun photoshoot opportunity.
9. DIY a dog enrichment game
Enrichment is good for your dog's mind and body, keeping them happy, mentally stimulated, and calm. There are several types of enrichment games you can try, such as:
- Scent-based games: Scent-based games force your dog to use their powerful sense of smell to find treats. If your dog loves to dig, consider creating a DIY dog dig pit by burying treasures in your yard or a sandbox. You can also engage your dog in a treasure hunt by hiding treats around the house and making them find them.
- Food puzzles: You can make your own food puzzles with pupsicles by filling an ice cube tray with a few pieces of treats, wet food, and broth. Then, give your dog a pupsicle and let them enjoy the mixture of flavors.
- Hide and seek: Playing hide and go seek with your dog is easy and requires no materials except treats to reward them for finding you. To play hide and seek, you'll need one person to hold your dog while you hide. Once you're in position, you'll call your dog's name and ask them to come find you, then reward them with tons of affection and treats.
10. Spend quality time together
One of the most obvious signs your dog loves you is that they want to spend time with you. Your dog probably follows you around the house and wants to go everywhere you go, snuggling up on the couch or sleeping at your feet.
Your dog isn't aware of what a Gotcha Day is, so you don't have to throw them a party or spend any money on them at all. Instead, dogs benefit from the quality time they get to spend with the person they love most. Regardless of what you do, as long as you're with your dog, they'll be happy.
Celebrating your dog's Gotcha Day can improve your bond and allow you to spend some quality time with your dog to make sure they know they're loved. Apart from celebrating the day you adopted them, you should provide continuous care for your pet to ensure their health, safety, and happiness.