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Welcome back to the blog, and happy new year! I don’t know if you’ll be reading this before or after the new year arrives, but either way, I hope you’re excited about the fresh new beginning laid out before you. While I don’t tend to get all sappy about the holidays, I have always liked the beginning of the year. There’s something very invigorating about shaking off the old and starting out fresh, and I embrace the idea of resolutions.
Usually my resolutions are things about my habits that I want to change, like getting better about cooking and not eating so many bags of chips. One of the things I wanted to do last year was get to the dog park more often, so that Janice and Leroy could get more socialization, rather than just walking around my property with them for exercise. My many, many tales from the dog park this year should have shown you long-time readers that I did accomplish that goal.
Now it’s time for me to start thinking about my next goals, and they always include my dogs. I’ve collected 11 things from around the web that I think are pretty awesome resolutions for dog owners. You don’t have to do them all (in fact, I think that would be taking on a bit much for you and your dog) but maybe add one or two to your resolutions list this year? At the end of this article, I’ll reveal which one Janice, Leroy, and I will be tackling this year.
(1) Set Up More Play dates
If you don’t live near a dog park, or you just don’t get the chance to go to one very often, it’s likely that your dog is not as well socialized as she could be. Even if your dog is perfectly behaved around other dogs, chances are that she’d love to have some fun with another dog more often. Dogs are social creatures for the most part, and with the exception of a few specific breeds, most love having a play buddy who will chase some balls and wrestle with them. Consider reaching out to that friend that you’ve been meaning to catch up with and kill two birds with one stone. Or, if you’re making resolutions around actual dating, why not make a doggie play date your go-to first date with someone new? Sounds more fun to me than yet another coffee date.
Here’s an interesting idea for a resolution that I think would tie in very nicely to other financial goals. This year, create a savings account (or just designate part of your savings) specifically for pet emergencies. If you’ve ever heard horror stories about pet illnesses or injuries that ended up costing thousands of dollars, you probably know why this is so important. It would be the worst possible feeling to be able to get your pet back in good health, but not be able to afford the simple treatments. And unfortunately, for many pet owners, that’s the reality. So if you’re planning on changing up your finances for the year, get yourself a piggy bank for your dog and put a few bucks aside for such an emergency. It’ll make you both feel better.
(3) Try One New Activity with Your Pet Every Month
Are you and your dog stuck in a rut? Why not make it a goal to try something new every month, or whenever your schedule allows? New things to try might be going on a road trip, trying out a canine sporting event, taking a hike, going camping together, or just trying out a new dog park. Maybe you want to try out a dog-friendly restaurant that just opened up nearby, or take your dog to a doggie spa for some pampering once, just to give them the experience.
(4) Start a Journal About Your Pet’s Life
There are a couple of reasons I think this is a really good resolution. First, jotting down a few notes about your dog on a regular basis can help you keep track of them medically. You’ll be able to tell how long your dog has been having a specific symptom, for example, if your vet asks you out of the blue “Hey, how long has this been going on?” Another good reason to have a journal about your pet’s life is for the memories. I miss my first Boxer, Gloria, all the time, and I’m sad that I didn’t record more of the memories we had together. Plus it will just be fun to write down some of the silly things your dog does.
(5) Include Your Dog in Your Daily Activities More Often
If there’s any resolution you can make that your dog will thank you for, it’s this one. Most dogs don’t lack for food, shelter, vet care, or even exercise. These tasks have become a routine part of pet owners’ lives, and they get through them just like they do any other chores. But spending quality time with your dog is what they really need, especially if they have become destructive or have other annoying behaviors. If your life is very busy, you may have a hard time getting in that extra time with them – so this year, make an effort to grab the leash and take them with you whenever you can. You’d be surprised at how many places are pet-friendly around you, and how many of your errands you can accomplish without even having to go inside a business.
Do you brush your dog’s teeth every week to help them fight off potentially deadly illnesses? Do you check their ears for wax build up to prevent ear infections? When was the last time you stripped your terrier’s fur? Dogs don’t require a ton of grooming, but they do need some to stay healthy. If you just brush your dog’s hair when you notice them shedding, you aren’t sticking to the best routine for their health. This year, make an effort to spend some time each week on their grooming. This is great time for bonding as well!
Does your dog know all the usual commands like sit, stay, and come here? This year, make an effort to teach them something a little more involved. Dogs love the mental challenge of figuring out and following more complex commands. Teach her to roll over, high five, speak on command, or balance treats on her nose. There are many things that you can teach a dog to do that aren’t just for fun, as well. Teach her how to get out of the house in the event of an emergency, for example, or train your dog to give hugs and take him down to the children’s ward of the hospital for volunteering together. Learning new tricks will require some consistency on your part. Find the training method that works for you, whether it’s treat training or some other method, and stick to it.
This is something that I’ve talked about a few times this year on the blog. Taking pictures of your dog is a great way to remember some of your best moments together, and it’s a lot of fun to be able to share those moments with your friends online or in person. If you have a hard time getting your dog to stay still for pictures, these selfie ball attachments are a really cool way to get their attention. In many ways, taking more pictures of your dog can also act as a medical record, just like keeping a journal. This is especially helpful if your dog is trying to lose some weight!
We’ve talked a few times around here about homemade dog food and dog snacks. They can be a great way to know exactly what your dog is eating, and they can be fun for those of you who enjoy being in the kitchen. Be careful to measure calories and watch what you are putting in the food, as dogs cannot eat everything that humans can. But otherwise, go for it! Dog food that you’ve made yourself is just as healthy, if not more so, than store bought dog food, providing you paid attention to the nutritional makeup of the food. Aim for more protein and fewer grains than you’d think, and you’ll be off to a great start.
(10) Volunteer with or Donate to Pet Charities More Often
Do you love animals and wish you could adopt them all? That’s not a feasible resolution for the new year, unfortunately, but what you can do is make a commitment to volunteering or donating more often to dog charities. You can head to your local shelter to volunteer or donate, or find other organizations to help out. You can even sponsor specific dogs through foster programs, if you want to have a closer connection with the dogs you are helping out. Want to get your dog involved in some pet charity? Consider volunteering your dog as a play date buddy for foster dogs that are still a bit shy around people. Being around another dog is a great way to get a shy dog to open up a bit. Just call the local fostering organizations and ask them what they need from volunteers in the coming year, and you’ll be able to find plenty of ways to pitch in.
(11) Learn More about Dogs’ Body Language
Finally, I think it’s a really great idea to make a resolution that involves educating yourself. A few years back, one of mine was to learn a lot more about dog psychology, on a much more in-depth basis, and that resolution helped me to connect with my dogs much more easily. Learning about dog body language is one of the best ways that a dog owner can become a better owner. Dogs tell us things all the time, but we miss a lot of it because we don’t speak their language. Understanding more about what they are telling you with their movements, posture, and energy, can help you both have a much better life together.
We’ve talked about this topic on the blog before, but to recap just a few things, here are some basics to get you started:
Happy dogs are relaxed, with their tails moving and their ears relaxed.
Angry or scared dogs often have their bodies stiff, their tails still and poised, their ears stiff and alert, and their hair standing up like a Mohawk.
Playful dogs are moving around, wagging their tails, and keep their ears relaxed for the most part.
Dogs tell you a lot about how they feel through their paws, rear ends, ears, and tail, so pay attention to these parts especially.
So, those were some resolutions that I think are great for dog owners for the coming year, and I would love to explore all of them personally. I’ve already done a few of these in the past, so which one will Janice, Leroy, and I be exploring in the coming year?
Well, it’s two actually. I’ll be starting a pet savings account for Janice and Leroy, first of all. I have never had an issue where I couldn’t find a way to juggle my finances to care for their needs, but I realized this past year that I don’t need to do that juggling if I just think ahead a bit more with savings. The second thing, though, and the more exciting thing, is that Janice, Leroy, and I will be committing to trying out one new thing every month together. I’ve got a list of things to try, and I’ll be blogging about them in the coming months.
I’m looking forward to sharing our new adventures with you. What doggie resolutions are you adopting this year?