New Year's Resolutions Going to the Dog
By Laura Pakis
Winter is the season of reflection and celebration. It is a time to reflect on the past year and a time to celebrate what we have accomplished. It is a time of quiet dreaming of what you want to achieve in the coming year. It is traditionally a time for us to give thanks for what we have—our families, our lives, and the dogs who play such an important role in our quality of life—and a time to set goals for the New Year.
This new year, why not include your dog in your good intentions? Listed below are five ideas to make your relationship with your dog better, deepen your bond, and even improve your dog’s manners. You might even find carrying them out to be more fun than giving up chocolate.
Dog Resolution #1: Include your dog in your exercise routine
Besides the obvious health benefits of being active, walking with your dog provides an avenue to improve your relationship with them. Teaching your dog to walk politely on leash is a great way to reflect your leadership status with your dog, so shake up your walks by finding different routes to enjoy and adding five minutes of training to the walk. When a dog sees you as a strong leader, respect and reliability of commands follows.
Dog Resolution #2: Check your dog’s diet
Just like us, dogs suffer from overeating and poor diets. That diet rich in table scraps is not a healthy one and can cause problems such as pancreatitis and obesity. Skin, muscle tone, and coat problems can reflect a dog’s poor diet. Vow this year to read the label on your dog’s dog food and include the treats you give your dog in their dietary requirements. Talk with your veterinarian or pet store staff to understand what makes a quality dog food. You may pay a bit more, but overall your dog will be better off.
Dog Resolution #3: Maintain your dog’s environment
No one likes to live in clutter and filth, so why allow this to happen with your furry friend? It is important to remember to maintain their space as you clean the rest of your house. Pick up all the toys, and throw away those that have become worn and discarded. For the remaining ones, a good washing should be the next step. Perhaps a visit to the local pet store for a few new ones would be a fun trip for everyone. Think about the last time the food and water bowls were really scrubbed, and get that chore out of the way. Either wash or air out your dog’s favorite bedding. If the bedding holds cedar chips, remember to change them also. Check your dog’s leashes and collars. If there is a worn or frayed area, it is time to replace this equipment. By spending time this year on maintaining your dog’s environment, you can address health problems such as skin infections and the spread of disease.
Dog Resolution #4: Keep up on your dog’s grooming
No one wants to be around a smelly dog. Regular grooming (which includes nail trims, tooth brushing, parasite control, and brushing in addition to bathing) not only makes your dog pleasant to be around, but it is also healthier for your dog and improves the bond between you and your dog. Brushing brings out endorphins in both you and your dog. Nail trims provide a stable gait. Tooth brushing can add to your dog’s lifespan. With all these benefits, it’s definitely worth the effort.
Dog Resolution #5: Be better informed on dogs
A lot has changed in dog care and training since your first dog. Being informed is the best way to nourish the human-dog bond. Read a book on dog care, revisit instruction with a canine professional trainer, and learn what is normal and not normal with your dog. This wealth of information you gain will lead to a better understanding of that friend on four legs who offers you unconditional love and a happier life.
These five resolutions might challenge you, but if you can manage even a couple of them, you should find the result very rewarding. Your dog will be more attentive to you, better mannered, more physically fit, and even happier. I double dog dare you to have a happier dog-inclusive 2014.
Published author and national speaker on dog care and training, Laura Pakis, owner and founder of Acme Canine Resource Center (Lewis Center, Ohio), has been a professional dog trainer for numerous years. She feels responsible ownership is an important part of having a dog and guides her business toward providing dog owners with not only training knowledge but also care and understanding of dogs. Learn more about Laura Pakis and Acme Canine at www.acmecanine.com.