Instead of making (and breaking) the same old New Year’s resolutions, try something different this year. Make your New Year’s resolutions about your dog.
Each year as your dogs get older, their needs change. Your life changes too, and you may need to reassess your schedule, doggie day care or your veterinarian. An upcoming year gives you a chance to evaluate your dog’s health and happiness.
Here are 10 easy resolutions that can help make 2019 the best year ever for you and your dog.
1. Go for more walks.
By nature, dogs like to roam. It’s instinctual; wild (and stray) dogs roam in packs looking for food. Dogs need to walk daily to be happy and healthy. Walking provides exercise and mental stimulation. Equally important, walks give your dog an opportunity to explore the world through their most acute sense: smell. To make their walk even better, vary your route to give your pups new smells (and sights) to explore.
2. Take care of your dog’s health.
If your dog hasn’t been to the vet in forever, schedule an annual checkup. Stay up to date on vaccines. Add or renew flea, tick and mosquito repellant, especially for the prevention of heartworm, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Use an all-in-one like Revolution or Heartgard Plus to protect your dog from parasites, or use a combination of products to repel all three.
3. Take care of your dog’s teeth.
While this is part of your dog’s overall health, it’s so important it deserves and resolution of its own. Dental health is at the top of the list of health issues in dogs. Get your dog’s teeth checked, and if necessary, schedule a dental cleaning; it can be expensive, but it will save money in the long run. Then make a plan for daily care to include: brushing, dental chews, and/or supplements. At the very least, resolve to give your dog one dental stick or dental treat a day and add a supplement to their food.
4. Provide more mental stimulation.
Your dog needs mental exercise as much as physical exercise. A dog that’s bored will look for ways to amuse himself, which often translates into destructive behavior such as chewing shoes and ripping apart pillows. Interactive puzzle toys are a good way to get your dog thinking. Some of these toys can be used safely when your dogs are on their own, and some need supervision. If your dog is alone for much of the day, consider a doggie cam so you can communicate. A schedule playtime for any of the games on this list.
5. Improve the quality of your dog’s food.
Your dog’s health (and happiness) is affected greatly by the food you give her. Food with tons of preservatives and filler can cause all kinds of health issues from allergies to gastrointestinal diseases. The better the food, the more likely your dog remains healthy. Learn about ingredients to look for and avoid, so you can make an informed opinion. Or even better…
6. Cook for your dog.
The highest quality food is the food you make yourself — particularly because the pet food industry isn’t really regulated. Cooking up large batches of dog food ends up being significantly less expensive than buying top dog food by the can. Kibble in general is not a heathy choice for feeding every day. Making dog food that is nutritionally balanced is not as hard as you may think (cats are a whole other story). Do your research on ingredients, ratios and supplements. Your dog will love you for it.
Groom your dog regularly.
Grooming includes bathing, brushing and taking care of your dog’s skin, ears, eyes, nails and teeth. While some breeds need bathing more frequently for different reasons — some breeds are stinkier, some are closer to the ground and get dirtier, some have long hair that needs brushing — grooming is important part of your dog’s care as it gives you a chance to check on your dog’s health. It also makes them look good!
8. Teach your dog a new trick.
Whether you brush up on basic commands or teach your dogs how to high five, the activity keep your dogs sharp, makes them feel good about themselves, gives them confidence and is great for bonding (and a well-timed high five from your pooch may also score you a free drink in the beer garden). Or encourage your future Olympians (Puplympians?), and sign them up for a dog sports class.
9. Take your dog on an adventure.
Whether you bring your dog to the beach, on a canoeing trip, camping, hiking or a road trip, it will enrich your dog’s life and give her some fun exercise. One of the best parts of being a dog parent is how it easy it becomes to meet new people. Going a new adventures is always better with a dog.
10. Stop and smell the roses.
I mean this literally. Learn from your dog how to live in the present. Sit on the grass and smell the breeze. Listen to the world. Look at the trees and the plants and the flowers around you. Sit on a bench and feed the pigeons (birdseed, not bread). Sit. Stay. Breathe. Live. Love your dog more than you ever thought possible.