It’s New Year’s resolutions time! This year, pick something dog-related to keep your pooch healthy inside and out. Plus, resolutions may be much more fun to keep if they are a “team” event. Below are some goals to get your tails wagging and your ears perked:
- Tackle a grooming or manners skill. Are you a rock star team at some skills, such as nail trimming and brushing, but need improvement in other areas? Oops, that’s actually me. My dogs will receive toothbrushes and dog toothpaste in their holiday stockings! I’ll be setting a goal to brush my dogs’ teeth daily or semi-weekly. Want to join us in this goal? Or master another common behavior skill, such as crating, leave it, or manners with guests. Or perhaps the bathtub is your dog’s nemesis? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog in January 2017 to curb your dog’s bath time fear.
- Teach your dog a new trick. Dogs, like humans, enjoy learning new things and need to keep their wits sharp as they age. You can teach your dog several new tricks in the comfort of your own home! Start with these blogs for tricks and tips: nose touch, pout, shake (with all four paws!), and turn left and right. You can use these tricks to impress your friends as party tricks, but also to make your dog “work” for real life rewards. For example, does your dog want to go on a walk? Have your dog “shake.” Tell him “yes” when he complies and then clip on that leash and head out the door – the walk is the reward for performing the “shake!” Do you need more trick ideas? Search in a web browser for more dog trick ideas or take a tricks class!
- Take a training class. Sign up for that training class that you’ve been meaning to take. Your dog will get to learn to perform commands, focus on you, and think in distraction and you’ll bond outside of the home. A training class is a great field trip; most dogs love to be out and about – the whole world smells and looks amazing to them! If you’ve already taken a basic class, consider taking a dog sports foundations class or a dog sports class.
- Maintain or return to a healthy hound weight. Staying or becoming fit will reduce stress on your loyal companion’s joints and organs. For weight loss, cut back food slightly and gradually increase activity, such as walks or hikes (see resolution #5). Measure food for each meal – don’t just guess! And if your loyal companion has a few treats one day, cut back a little on the dinner portion.
Do you need help determining if your dog is a proper weight? Ask your veterinarian or check out Purina’s weight tips here. Your veterinarian may even suggest a change in diet for your pooch if the weight loss goals are significant.
Is your dog too large to weigh at home on your “for-humans” bathroom scale? To help you and your dog, stay on track, stop into your local vet bi-weekly or monthly to use the animal scale. If you notice weight going up or down, adjust food accordingly.
- Create specific exercise goals. Set a target to walk 1 mile daily or an additional 10 minutes five days per week. Spice things up by trying a new hiking location or walking spot twice per month. A new walking spot could be a greenway, a safe shopping strip mall area, or even just a different neighborhood. Exercise releases endorphins in humans and dogs, so you’ll both feel amazing!
Ensure these are quality walks – go headphones-free and enjoy the time with your dog. Interact with your dog during the walk by stopping to do a few tricks or obedience commands or by giving your dog some petting.
Keep on track by denoting or scheduling your resolutions (and progress) in a calendar or other format. I wish you and your hound a healthy, happy, and bonded year ahead!