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I don’t have any tiny humans.
If we’re being honest? They scare me. There’s a REASON I’m a crazy dog lady. I mean, I like kids. I like seeing my friends kids. I like hearing their unique and unfiltered takes on the world, but I gotta admit: for a moment, when I see a child, I’m like:
Still, I love seeing the magic of the Christmas season through a child’s eyes.
I still remember that magic and try to recapture it just a little every year. It seems like everyone’s favourite holiday pastime is hatong on the Elf on the Shelf, but man? When I was a kid? This would have seemed so crazy magical. I would have LOVED it. And sure, the idea of an Elf always watching to emotionally blackmail your kid into behaving at Christmas is a little screwy, but every parent I know is doing it for the magic, not for the blackmail. I don’t even have kids and I love that darn elf. We have one and she is AWESOME.
Pets are a part of the family, so I love the idea of making your Elf on the Shelf a dog lover.
Most of these idea require you to hack your elf to make them bendable and grippy. It’s way easier than it sounds. Check out this tutorial from Dirty Diaper Laundry for both sewing and no-sew instructions for how to add wire to your Elf on the Shelf.
9 Elf on the Shelf Ideas for Dog Lovers
Walk the Dog Elf
I absolutely loved when they released a pet reindeer and a pet dog for your Elf on the Shelf! (Don’t get me started on sizing though: why is the reindeer so small and the dog so BIG? It’s weird, right?!) As soon as I saw it, I loved the idea of the Elf going about her life as a pet owner while we all sleep.
To set this up, you need: ribbon, dog kibble and a dog poop bag.
1. Wrap the ribbon around your pet’s neck and around your Elf’s wrist and tie with a loose knot.
2. Snip a small corner off a dog poop bag and use clear tape to tape the edges closed. Slip onto your elf’s free hand
3. Sprinkle a few kibble pieces on the ground.
Battling a Dragon Elf
The goDog dragons are one of the super tough dog toys that seem to survive season after season in our house and they make the perfect elf on the shelf prank.
To set this up, you need: Gift Wrap, an empty box, a goDog Dragon, craft knife, plastic snowflake, mini candy cane, pipe cleaner or craft wire. Optional: paper fire
1. Wrap the box
2. Use a craft knife to cut open one side. Use jagged uneven cuts so it looks like the dragon busted out.
3. Use a pipe cleaner or craft wire to secure the snowflake and candy cane in your elf’s hands.
4. If desired, colour a spray of fire onto paper and cut it out. Secure to your dragon using tape.
Add to the fun! Take your child to the store, shop for the toy, wrap it together and then surprise them when it’s escaped.
Train the Dog Elf
Part dog training, part elfin fun, I love the idea of the elf working with our pets while we sleep. We used our Treat & Train device for this shoot, but it would be just as cute with a clicker; use what you have and what works with your dog!
To set this up, you need: a Treat & Train or a Clicker, dog treats, your dog
- Set up your Elf to hold the Treat & train remote or the clicker
- Place your dog in a down/stay in front of the elf
- Let your kid’s discover the scene!
If you can’t trust your dog to hold a down stay while your kids discover the set up, use your Elf pet instead of your real pet.
I have a small treat hidden behind the remote to keep Kol’s eye’s focused on the elf.
Everyone loves sledding right? And flat dog toys make the PERFECT sled. They remind me of those old plastic saucer sleds that you couldn’t control and always rode into a snowdrift/tree/friend.
To set this up, you need: a flat dog toy (I love this festive reindeer one), a white fleece blanket, a diagonal surface (I used my Solvit pet steps, but you can use anything diagonal, even your house stairs)
- Drape your diagonal surface with the blanket.
- Position the dog toys on the blanket
- Bend your elf so it sits nicely onto the toy
PRO TIP: If you have trouble keeping them in place, double sided carpet tape will work like a charm!
Ice Skating in the Dog Bowl Elf
Imagine your child waking up to find the dog’s water bowl frozen over and the elf skating on it? AH! So cute!! I used pipe cleaners to create the idea of skates, but wouldn’t you know, the VERY NEXT YEAR they came out with an Elf on the Shelf Ice Skating outfit which is exclusive to Target. We don’t have Target in Canada anymore (*insert sobbing*), but Mrs. TaleTell from Tales and Tails is amazing and gifted me with a set. (Plus check out all of her amazing Elf photos!!) I couldn’t be more grateful.
To set this up, you need: A spare dog bowl, a wire picture holder, Claus Couture Skating Set
- Place the wire picture holder in your dog bowl, fill with water and freeze overnight
- Dress your elf
- Remove bowl from freezer and place elf over the picture holder. (The wire will be hidden inside her dress. You can also bend the wire to mimic the line of her leg.)
Pro tip: Teach responsible pet ownership by reminding your kids they’ll have to get the dog a fresh bowl of water right away, since the elf too theirs!
Playing the Dog Puzzle Elf
Everyone loves a puzzle game, right? We have a ton of dog puzzles in our house because they are one of our favourite ways to bust dog boredom, so we figured why not set one up for the elf to play?
To set this up, you need: a dog puzzle, small peppermint candies
- With your child’s help, fill the dog puzzle with peppermints. I like the idea of getting your kids to help leave surprises for your elf!
- After the kid’s are asleep, empty all but the last pepermint, leaving parts of the puzzle open or “solved”. Position your elf at the last opening and bend them in place so it looks like their working on it
DIY Dog Gifts Elf
I love the idea of the elf making his or her own gift for the dog! We used a n engraved leather dog collar, but you could just as easily do this with an engraved dog tag from Etsy or one of the machines at your local pet store. I made our sunglasses using paper and tape, but Claus Couture (again, exclusively at Target, which I miss dearly, has a superhero elf costume with goggles that would be PERFECT for this).
To set this up, you need: a Laser pointer, an engraved collar or dog tag, Elf sunglasses, doll house chair and table (mine are from Ikea)
- Sit your Elf in the dollhouse chair and position the laser pointer in their hands and their safety goggles on
- Set up the collar of tag on your dollhouse table, so the laser is pointing at it
PRO TIP: Right before you show the kids, use clear tape to tape the laser pointer button down, so it’s still ON.
Dog books are the BEST Books Elf
I love how so many animal shelters have reading programs, where kids can read to the pets promoting great literacy skills for kids and socialization for the animals. Plus, who DOESN’T love a book with a dog in it?!
To set this up, you need: a colour printer, a few small pieces of corrugated cardboard OPTIONAL: Dollhouse furniture for your elf to sit on, BUT there’s no reason you can’t fold their legs criss-cross-applesauce and sit them right on the floor.
- Find pictures of the book cover for a few great dog themed kid’s books. Not sure what books to choose? Here is a list of best selling children’s dog books.
- Shrink the photos to about 1″ tall using a photo editor like fotoflexr or canva
- Print colour copies of your book covers and wrap them around small cardboard pieces
- Place them in your elf’s lap with the elf pet next to them
PRO TIP: Sit your elf on top of the same full-size books as a gift for your kids, so they can read to your pet what the elf is reading to theirs.