10 resolutions to keep your dog happy

The resolution time is just around the corner. After a year as traumatic as 2020, it can be worthwhile to think about improvements and changes on a more personal level. If you keep our goals simpler and closer to your home, you may find them easier to achieve too.

We approached our colleagues and dog lovers for their solution ideas. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Volunteers with an animal shelter, a dog rescue group or a neighbor. Check with your local animal shelter and ask how you can help. Most have dog walks or other programs to teach dogs one-on-one in and out of their kennels. Many rescue groups rely on a network of caregivers to prepare dogs for their home forever. Step up and give foster a whirl. Or do you have a neighbor (elderly or otherwise) who owns dogs and who has strict instructions on how to stay at home? Ask if you should take your dog for a walk.

2. Teach your dog something new. Practical skills such as walking well on a leash, waiting at the door, or having a solid stay pay off. Or, for more playtime together, teach your dog a new game to play together. Fetching, dragging, finding, hiding, and chasing games are all options (customize the game to suit your dog’s inclinations).

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3. Practice mindfulness. Unlike us, dogs don’t think about the past or worry about the future. Take your dogs for long walks and follow them into their sensory world in the here and now. They show you how to be mindful and live in the moment.

4. Take up a new skill with your dog. This could be your year to try skijoring, snowshoeing, or running – invigorating and beneficial for you and a dog’s wellbeing.

5. Exercise with your dog. You will be surprised to learn how many exercise routines you can do with your dog, from simple to yoga stretches to advanced dance steps.

6. Cook for your dog. While the end of the pandemic is in sight, it will likely take months (at least) for our lives to return to something that is nearing normal. Most likely we will continue to spend a lot of time at home. So now is a good time to rethink how you feed your dog. Even if you don’t prepare all of your dog’s meals yourself (excuse the pun), you can still add nutritious toppers to your dog’s snacks without breaking a sweat.

7. Live easier. Hop on the growing “buy nothing” bandwagon and let your life disappoint by giving away things you don’t use and not buying new things. Not only is it good for your bank account but also for the planet. Fortunately, dogs don’t crave the latest video game or a new pair of radical sneakers. Your needs are very simple: a good collar, a comfortable bed, and regular meals (homemade, even better). When it comes to toys, dogs seem to enjoy the new one, but you can easily make toys and enrichment toys out of socks, t-shirts, or other worn fabrics. Or swap toys with a dog-loving friend. That way, both your friend’s dog and your own will have something new to fascinate them.

8. Get involved in your community. See if your city has programs for citizen gardening, tree planting and native vegetation, or even project planning. Are you thinking of starting a new dog park or building a new animal shelter in your city? Make your voice heard by zooming in on local government meetings. Have a seat at the table where decisions are made that affect you, your dog, and your community. Wear a grabber or gloves and a garbage bag on your dog walks and pick up trash, register for your local dog park cleanup day, or carry spare poop bags and collect “forgotten” piles on paths, sidewalks, and other paths.

9. Turn off your cell phone. No more walks. Take advantage of these regular outings to keep your dogs busy. They live from your attention.

10. Learn How To Do A DIY Physical Exam On Your Dog. Shea Cox, DVM, provides easy-to-follow instructions. When your dog is in good shape, practice so you know what is normal, which will make it easier to spot changes in the future. (Wondering what kind of resolutions a vet might suggest? Dr. Cox shares theirs here.)


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