New Year’s Resolutions

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New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

This time of year many of us are making New Year’s Resolutions and some of us are already letting them slip.  While most resolutions end up on the back burner by Valentine’s Day, there are a few simple goals you can set for your pooch this year that might even tie in with your own personal goals:

  1. Look into the food you feed and measure every serving. With over half of American dogs being overweight, it is important to feed your dog an age and activity appropriate food.  Accurately measuring your dog’s meals also ensures that they are getting proper portions and allows you full control of their caloric intake. I recommend using an actual measuring cup to avoid any confusion.  Also keep in mind that a lot of what you see on TV, extolling different brands, is a better indicator of  brands marketing department budget than the quality of the actual food. Check out http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/ for food recommendations and information.
  2. Play more! Playing with your dog is a great way to build a strong relationship (see: http://perfect-pooch.com/building-a-relationship-with-your-dog/) and figure out what best motivates your pooch.  Get creative!  If fetch is your go-to game, mix it up with some tug or add some self-control commands to the game (like a sit before the send out to retrieve), or try fetch through some obstacles.  With the cold weather setting in, you can add some indoor fun into your dog’s routine too. Puzzle toys and hide-and-seek are great indoor options!
  3. Get in the habit of daily grooming. If you have a dog, then you deal with dog hair to some degree; whether you have a shedding breed or have a dog who is regularly groomed by a professional.  Spending just five minutes a day brushing or rubbing down your dog can lead to benefits for both of you.  If your dog enjoys brushing already, you can hide a comb between your couch cushions and whip it out during TV or cuddle time (keeping it in reach makes you more likely to use it regularly).  If your dog is not such a big fan of this activity, try using a favorite longer lasting treat, like peanut butter, and only brush a stroke or two the first few days until they can happily accept more.  This is also a good time for a brief physical inspection of your dog. Check out their teeth, paw pads, etc. while you are grooming and you will quickly notice any issues before they progress. You might even be able to feel your dog slimming down if you are also working on resolution #1.
  4. Get your dog involved in your favorite activities! I think everyone wishes they walked their dogs more, but not everyone actually enjoys walking in the first place.  It is really hard to get into a habit like walking if you don’t already seek out that type of activity. Rather than aiming to start a brand new regime for both of you, try to involve your dog in activities you already enjoy.  If you are an avid coffee lover, seek out cafes with outdoor seating and bring your dog a nice chew bone to enjoy.  If you enjoy unwinding with friends, look for social settings where your dog can tag along.  Do you like traveling or exploring new places?  You’d be surprised how many hotels are dog friendly and how many cities and towns have lenient dog policies (see: http://www.bringfido.com/).
  5. Train! You had to see this one coming.  Training is fun, improves relationships and helps your dog learn new tricks regardless of their skill level.  It also a really great way to meet people and learn more about yourself and your dog.  If you have a young inexperienced dog, you can look into basic obedience packages to help your dog learn to focus and have better self-control.  Got an expert on your hands?  Why not give back with pet therapy or get involved in dog sports like Rally, Obedience, Agility, or Flyball.  Training is not the regimented stiff way it used to be. It’s fun and active and often includes games.

If you are looking to make a change this year, think about resolutions that might benefit you and your dog. There are plenty of ways you can incorporate small changes into your dog’s life that have a big impact.   Remember, oftentimes what’s good for you is also good for your pet, so try to include them in your regular activities before trying to pick up new ones and you will be surprised at how easy it is to keep your resolutions this year.

Happy Training!

Tamar Paltin
Head Trainer- Perfect Pooch
BA, CPDT-KA, AKC CGC Evaluator