6 Ways To Celebrate National Puppy Day

March 23rd is nearly here

national puppy day

National Puppy Day is just around the corner, and there are so many fun and fulfilling ways you can celebrate. It’s an entire day dedicated to celebrating the goodness of puppies and the joy they bring to our lives, which is a holiday most people can definitely get excited about.

If you’ve never celebrated National Puppy Day before, or if this is the first time you’ve ever heard about National Puppy Day, then The Dodo is here to fill you in and give you some great ideas for how you can get involved this year.

Not only is it a day of dog-centric celebration, but it’s also a day when you can take on the role of activist and educate your fellow dog lovers about the importance of adopting rather than shopping for puppies at pet stores or from illegitimate breeders.

Here’s all the info you need to know before planning your festivities for National Puppy Day.

puppy eating toy

When is National Puppy Day?

Though most dog parents will tell you that National Puppy Day is every day in their households, the official National Puppy Day is observed annually on March 23. And it shouldn’t be confused with National Dog Day, which occurs each year on August 26.

March 23 is also National Cuddly Kitten Day, so feel free to show a little extra love to the kittens in your life, too.

Why was National Puppy Day founded?

National Puppy Day was established by animal rights activist and author Colleen Paige in 2006 in an effort to not only celebrate the unconditional love puppies bring to our lives, but to also educate the public about the horrors of the puppy mill and pet shop industry.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are approximately 10,000 puppy mills throughout the U.S., with that estimate including mills that sell to pet shops (though not including many larger pet store chains, like Petco and Petsmart, that give temporary kennel space to local rescue organizations or provide pet parents resources to adopt locally) and “backyard breeders” who sell puppies locally or over the internet.

Dogs born into puppy mill conditions are usually malnourished; unvaccinated; living in cramped, unclean kennels; and rarely see medical professionals before being sold. Puppy mill puppies are also often taken away from their mothers too soon and before they are able to be weaned and socialized, resulting in bad behaviors that lead many parents to abandon their dogs at the shelter. In the puppy mill industry, profit is prioritized over the wellbeing of the animals involved.

The spirit behind National Puppy Day is “Adopt. Don’t shop,” driving home the importance of rescuing orphaned puppies and dogs before buying a dog from a pet store. The ultimate goal of National Puppy Day and its founder is to see an end to puppy mills once and for all.

Though it’s technically a day that's only observed in the U.S., National Puppy Day is also celebrated internationally on March 23 each year, as it has trended on social media on March 23 every year since 2012.

Paige is also the founder of National Dog Day (August 26), National Mutt Day (December 2), National Black Dog Day (October 1), National Cat Day (October 29) and National Wildlife Day (September 4), among other national pet-related holidays.

Rottweiler puppy on couch

Ways to celebrate National Puppy Day

No matter your current situation or circumstances, there are a ton of ways you can get involved in the fight against puppy mills and celebrate just how awesome rescue pups are on National Puppy Day. Here are a few suggestions on how to get festive.

Adopt. Don’t shop.

As mentioned, National Puppy Day was established to encourage people to adopt puppies from shelters or rescue organizations rather than purchase puppies from pet stores that likely source from puppy mills. But only adopt if you and your family are absolutely ready for the long-term commitment. Do your research ahead of time, get in touch with local rescue organizations (who will often help you find the right dog for you) and save the life of a pup in need. Adopting a puppy on National Puppy Day is an awesome way to celebrate the holiday and get directly involved in the fight against puppy mills.

Sign up to be a foster.

If you’re unable to make a long-term commitment, signing up to be a foster parent to a pup in need is also a noble undertaking. Fostering a puppy is the act of bringing the puppy into your home to help socialize, train and comfort him before he finds his forever home. You can contact your local shelter or rescue organization to begin the vetting process for their foster program. It’s important to remember that being a foster comes with all the responsibilities of being a puppy parent — the only difference is that your house will only be a temporary home before his final adoption.

puppy running with ball
Shutterstock/Josie Grant


Another fun way to get involved in the caretaking of unadopted puppies is volunteering at your local shelter or rescue league. Oftentimes these organizations need all the help they can get to keep their pups fed, clean and happy. You may also be able to volunteer your time virtually by helping organizations manage their social media accounts, organize adoption applications or even respond to emails, so be sure to ask if there are any at-home volunteer positions available if you’d like to maintain a social distance.

Donate to local shelters.

Shelters will rarely say no to any monetary or tangible donation of items like beds, blankets, puppy pads, food, toys — you name it! Some shelter locations even have an outdoor dropbox for donated items so you can swing by and drop off supplies any time of day or night. And shelters also usually have an online donation process where you can give money to help cover the daily costs of running an animal shelter. Even donations as little as $5 are appreciated greatly.

Protest puppy mills.

You can peacefully protest against puppy mills by demonstrating outside a pet shop with signs and handing out information pamphlets to potential new pet parents. Or, contact your state’s congresspeople and senators to ask that they support banning puppy mills in your state. You can also take to social media to share information about how puppy mills are inhumane and provide information about how others in your social media circle can take action against them, too.

Share your love for your own pup.

Post your favorite photos of your puppy on social media and treat him with a new toy, a trip to the dog park or a fresh bag of his favorite dog cookies. This celebration can also take the form of making sure your puppy is as safe as possible by making an appointment for him to get microchipped, investing in high-quality puppy gates for around your house, or purchasing a new ID tag with your name and phone number etched onto it (there are some great customizable ID tag options available on Amazon).

National Puppy Day is a great opportunity to show the world just how much you love and appreciate your puppy as well as value the lives of puppies who may be less fortunate than yours. Any day dedicated to expressing your love of dogs is a day to get excited for. So circle March 23 on your calendar and start planning your festivities.

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