New Year’s is a great time to start thinking about the future and how to improve our lives and the lives of our pets. When changing behavior in humans and dogs, you have to start small. It can be unrealistic to say, “I’m getting up everyday at 5am to work out.” I know with my schedule that is almost impossible. But things like, walking further, taking the stairs, short walks throughout the day are more realistic. It is the same with dogs. Training sessions aren’t an hour long multiple times a day. Studies show dogs retain more training when sessions are 5-10 minutes a couple times a day. Pair that with adding a few behaviors before breakfast or letting Rover outside, can do a world of difference.
To help set some realistic New Year’s Resolutions, we’re here to help you and your pup live a happy and healthy new year!
- Get your pooch’s weight where it belongs.
Obesity can cause many health issues that can reduce the lifespan of your best friend. Ensuring your pet is at a healthy weight will allow them to live longer, play harder, and stay happy and healthy for many years to come.
- Get vigorous exercise at least five times a week.
Exercise is an outstanding stress reducer for dogs and humans. Consider vigorous off-leash aerobic as a great complement to any behavioral program. If your dog is not accustomed to regular exercise, start slowly. Build duration and intensity gradually. As always, consult with your veterinarian.
- Get an annual physical check-up for your dog.
From personal experience, a simple booster shot for my dog, Beverly, saved her life. During her basic physical exam, they found a lump on her spleen. Thankfully, they found the enlarged spleen and benign tumor before it ruptured.
- Give your dog some social time with other dogs.
If your dog enjoys being around other dogs, consider playdates with their friends or doggy daycare. Playgroups with other dogs help with learning and maintaining social skills and helps exert excess energy at the same time! A note about dog parks: dog parks can be great for socializing (if your dog is social). However, “read the yard.” If the dogs’ play styles are too much for your dog, don’t go in. You don’t want it to be overwhelming for your dog.
- Take as good care of yourself as you take care of your dog.
When on an airplane, the flight attendants always say, “In case of emergency, air masks will drop from the ceiling. If you are traveling with a minor, please put on your own mask before helping the minor.” This concept means, you have to take care of yourself before you take care of others. Remember, there is nothing selfish about self-care. Just because you spoil your pooch, it doesn’t mean you can’t spoil yourself a little.
What is your New Year’s Resolution? Mine is walk my dogs more. It takes just a few minutes a day, everyday, to start a new habit.