Traditional declarations for the new year often include healthier eating and improved fitness. While those are surely gainful goals, it’s also fun to choose a non-traditional, yet still worthwhile, ambition for you and your pooch. Consider mastering one of these items in the coming year:
Resolutions for Physical Health
Improve Bath Behavior
Imagine getting a report card from the groomer that your dog was calm and joyful during his bath. Or picture being able to conveniently give your dog a bath without a bubbly wrestling match in your own home or at a rental tub. Having a well-groomed and nicely smelling pup means that your dog is often more welcome in the homes of your friends and family, at rental houses or hotels, and in dog-friendly stores. Dogs with irritated, itchy skin can benefit from a bath using natural remedies! It’s never too late to teach your dog to serenely stand still for bath time and that baths results in treats – doing so creates less stress for both you and your dog. Read more in this blog about bath time training.
Train Tooth Brushing
Even though owners with wellness care pet insurance coverage receive reimbursement on wellness items like veterinary teeth cleaning, most would prefer their dog needed fewer professional dental cleanings! You can grant your own wish by caring for your dog’s teeth! Brushing your dog’s teeth helps reduce plaque and gives you a chance to check for chipped teeth or discolorations. Use baby steps for this process by first getting your dog used to having you gently touch his muzzle and look at his teeth. Progress to having a soft-bristled toothbrush near the teeth, then touching the teeth, and then brushing in small circles. Your pup needs a safely digestible toothpaste that is made specifically for dogs. Dogs cannot use human toothpaste because dogs don’t spit it out! To keep human family members happy, be sure to store the canine toothpaste separately from the human toothpaste to prevent mishaps. A human using the dog’s toothpaste by mistake is generally not thrilled with the non-lathering and non-mint flavor of poultry or peanut butter paste!
Perfect Nail Trimming
Nail trimming is a prized resolution for many dog owners. A dog with shorter nails is better able to balance on slippery floors, has better posture, and does not scuff or tear up carpets and furniture as easily as a dog with long nails. Short nails are a great hallmark of a responsible dog owner. Further, having brag rights that you “dremel” - use a rotary tool with a sandpaper attachment - or trim your dog’s nails weekly may also help convince a landlord or property manager to rent to you. As with most animal husbandry training, nail trimming is all about taking the training slowly. You want to ensure that your dog has many positive associations with the nail tools and does not have a frantic, stressful nail session. Read about choosing the right tools for nail trims and how to trim your dog’s nails for more helpful tips. Even if you do not want to do the nails yourself, your dog would highly benefit from such training before you drop him off at the groomer to do his paw-dicure.
Resolutions for Mental Health
Teach a New Trick
Has it been a while since you taught your dog a new trick? Dust off that treat pouch and teach him something new! You could teach:
- Pout – Great for pictures, your dog places his chin on the floor between his front two paws when he’s in a down position.
- Chin – Your dog places his chin in your upward facing palm.
- Roll over – Did you teach it going both directions or in just one direction? Teach both!
- Nose touch – Your dog bops his nose to your hand on cue.
- Left and right circles – Your dog does a controlled circle, as if he were chasing his tail, while standing up.
- Cone wrap – Your dog learns to wrap a cone on cue at distance. You can even teach your dog to wrap around trees while running in the back yard – what fabulous exercise!
- Bow – This is always a party pleaser!
- Speak – You can teach your dog to bark on cue.
For even more ideas, find a local training class or sign up for a private lesson with a trainer.
Practice Crate Training
Crating is not just for protecting mischievous puppies. Your adult dog may need to be crated in an emergency if you are forced to head to an evacuation shelter due to a hurricane, flood, or other disaster. Your dog may also need diagnostic tests, teeth cleanings, or surgeries later in life in which the vet places him in a kennel in the medical unit as he awakens from sedation and to allow for close monitoring. If your dog is not comfortable in a crate, he will face more stress and anxiety in such situations. Set him up for success by retraining the crate or training the crate for the first time. Consider just crating your dog for a few minutes each week to keep him acclimated. For example, once a week, crate him while you shower or when you go to the gym.
Earn a Canine Good Citizen Title
Earn the prestigious and useful Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate and title. This ten-step family manners test sets your dog up for behaving politely and with poise in many life situations. The CGC is also often a prerequisite to many therapy dog certification programs. Owners who train for the CGC test find that they enjoy the training immensely and increase the bond with their pup. After your CGC adventure, if you are still hungry for more, you may desire to try a dog sport or take another dog training class. The CGC program is a superb launching pad for even more dog fun! Find an AKC event, attend it, and ask questions at the event to learn more about how you can become involved locally.
Teach Doggie Paddling
Have you always wanted to see if your dog could swim? Perhaps your dog has been nervous around water and you’d like to help him become more confident. Maybe you own or use a watercraft and, although your dog wears a life jacket when on-board, you’d feel better if you knew your dog was a self-assured swimmer. The key to success is teaching your dog to swim in small increments.
Set an Intention for Better Health
While these tasks are all helpful for your dog’s mind or body, one of the best resolutions you can set is to invest in your dog’s health by enrolling in pet insurance! Pet insurance can help you afford to provide the highest quality care for your dog during routine and unexpected veterinary visits Get a quote and seize the new year full of opportunities for you and your pup to thrive together!