For some, the New Year is a chance for a fresh start or a new beginning and for others, it’s no different than any other day. Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions but how many of us will actually stick to them?
So rather than coming up with the same old resolutions year after year (lose weight or finally quit smoking) how about including your dog in your resolutions? By including your dog in your resolutions you are adding some accountability to your resolution which may make you more likely to stick to them and they could help make your dog happier and healthier too. So why not give it a try – what have your got to lose?
See below for some ideas of resolutions that your can make to your dog:
- “I will be more present on walks” – This means putting your phone away and giving your dog your whole focus. While out on walks take your head out of your phone and interact with your dog; talk to them, play with them, hide treats for them to sniff out, sit down with them and just ‘Be’ with them, it’ll make your walks much more enjoyable for you both and help you strengthen your bond together. Remember your dogs walk could be the most fun they have all day, make sure you both get to make the most of it.
- “I will play with my dog every day” – Even for just 5 minutes. Playing is so important for dogs, it provides mental and physical stimulation for dogs and is important for their overall well being and as well as being fun it can also be stress relieving for them, and it will help strengthen your bond with them. Play is a relatively easy way to fit in some more physical exercise for your dog each day (especially useful in winter). Games like tug, sniffing games and puzzle games are physically and mentally tiring for dogs, and by adding in a few quick sessions each day you’ll create a routine that provides your dog with plenty of exercise and fun. Some of my favourite brain games for dogs include nose work games, puzzle toys, snuffle mats, and stuffed Kongs. because these activities can help to alleviate boredom they might decrease the likelihood of our dogs developing behavioural issues such as excessive barking or chewing. Playing can also be used to help train your dog, for a dog that loves toys, why not use play as a reward to help teach new tricks or behaviours. There are 1440 minutes in a day, surely you can set aside 5 minutes of those every day to play some kind of game or training with your dog?
- “I will try a new activity with my dog” – There are so many sports and activities out there that you can try with your dog, why not give one of them a go? There is Canicross, Dog Parkour, Hoopers, Scentwork and Man trailing, Agility, Fly Ball plus others, why not do some research and try out a new activity – there will be something out there for all dogs and owners.
4. “I will research what I am feeding my dog and ensure I do not overfeed them” – Feeding your dogs an appropriate diet is very important, and while there isn’t a diet that is suited for every dog I still believe that it’s important for owners to research what they are feeding their dogs. We all know that diet is a major contributor to the level of health and wellness we experience as humans and that the ideal healthy diet should consist of non-processed foods made with high-quality ingredients, and exactly the same is true for our dogs. So when it comes to your dog’s food I really urge you to research what you are feeding your dog and the ingredients that go into it. Also, check that you are not overfeeding your dog, the portion guidelines on the back of packets are for IDEAL body weight, e.g if your dog is currently 20KG but should be 15KG then feed them the recommended amount for a 15KG dog, not 20KG. If you haven’t measured the amount you feed your dog in a while then measure/weigh it again, feeding by eye can lead to us overfeeding our dog.
- “I will Commit to getting over 10 thousand steps per day and ensure my dog can join me when I walk” – As humans, we are told to walk at least 10,000 steps per day, and we have the very best personal trainers in the form of dogs, so why not include them in our exercise regime. Dogs need exercise too, depending on your dog’s age and breed they could need anything from 30 minutes per day to several hours a day
- “I will complete a dog first aid course” – Knowing what to do in the case of an emergency can be the difference between life and death. There are lots of options for first aid courses for pets available online or in person, being prepared in the case of an emergency could help to save your pets life. Keeping a well-stocked first-aid kit in your car or house is also a very sensible idea. I had added the link to our favourite First Aid Kit, it is from a local business here in Cornwall. Click Here for the link.
- “I will explore a new walk with my dog every month” – Have a look online or at maps for walks that you have never been on before, we are so blessed to have so many great places to walk our dogs in Cornwall, why not make a day of it, pack a picnic (don’t forget a snack for your dog) and get outside for the day, exercising outside in nature can have a huge impact on our mental health (and our dogs too)
- “I will get creative with how I feed my dog” – not every meal that your dog has, must come from a bowl. Ditch the dog bowl occasionally and get creative with how you feed your dog, you can buy interactive feeders or make your own using items from your recycling, or hide food around the house or garden for them to sniff out and find. By encouraging your dogs to work for their food or sniff it out will really help to get their brains thinking, help to keep them out of mischief and can help enrich their lives. See our previous blog post on Canine enrichment here. The image below uses a plastic biscuit tray to feed my dogs, I simply filled the tray with their food, but you could quite easily add kibble to the tray instead. It took seconds to prepare and took them over 5 minutes each to eat their evening meal, much longer than the 30 seconds it usually takes them. Always ensure you are using dog safe items and supervise where necessary.
- “I will let my dog stop and sniff more on walks.” – Take time out on walks with your dog to allow them to sniff, our dogs “see” the world through scent and giving them the chance to sniff rather than rushing them on a walk is hugely beneficial to them – Studies have shown sniffing makes dogs feel more confident and using their noses regularly can help them to relax and feel calmer and less stressed. Sniffing allows them to express normal, natural behaviour, therefore, improving their wellbeing and mood. When out on walks try letting your dogs nose dictate which route to take.
- “I will tell my dog that I love them every, single day” – Because who doesn’t like to hear they are loved regularly, huh?
So why not consider making one of the above pledges to your dog and see how you get on? You might find that not only will they have a benefit to your dog’s health and well being, but maybe yours too. We’d love to hear from you if you do choose to make any of these resolutions.
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