Dog-related New Year’s resolutions are the best New Year’s resolutions.
Whether you’re ringing in the new year at the bar or on the couch with your pup, it’s time to face the facts—another year is over. We had 365 days to follow our passions, work toward our goals, and prioritize the important things in life. Now that it’s time to start again, we all have the opportunity to reflect on the past and make plans for the future. You might have goals about healthy eating or advancing your career, but don’t forget about the furry family member in your life. Dogs’ lives are considerably shorter than our own, so it’s important to make every year count.
New Year’s resolutions often get a bad rap, but I’m a big fan. They’re your way of adding focus into every day. Not many people stick to their resolutions past January, but pet parents have an extra incentive to stay committed. Every time you look down at your pup, think about the ways you can make both of your lives better.
Here are a few New Year’s resolutions that every pup parent should make this year.
1. Spend More time Outside Together
There’s no doubt that some dogs are born to be couch potatoes. They love nothing more than curling up on a cushion, but all dogs deserve time spent outside. And opening the door and letting them in the yard alone isn’t what I mean. I’m talking about spending quality time with your dog in the beautiful outdoors. You both will benefit from the fresh air, and it’ll improve your bond.
2. Put Your Phone Away During Walks
When your dog stops to sniff his tenth tree, I know it’s tempting to pull out your phone. You can zone out during your dog walks, or you can use that time to connect and bond with your dog. Leave your phone in your pocket (or even at home) and focus on creating a shared experience. You can turn walks into training sessions if your dog likes to pull on the leash or react to other dogs or people. You can also turn your walks in “sniffaris” where you let your dog choose the path based on wherever his nose takes him.
3. Take Training to the Next Level
This New Year’s resolution applies to every dog, no matter where they are in their training. If your new puppy recently mastered “sit,” spend the next year reinforcing those basic obedience skills. Training isn’t something you do for puppies and then stop. It’s a life-long endeavor that is as important for adults and seniors as it is for the youngest puppies. If your adult dog already knows the basics, go to the next level and learn more advanced skills like opening doors, flipping light switches, or weaving between your legs. You can even teach your dog a fun canine sport like agility, nose work, or rally.
4. Dedicate At Least 20 Minutes To Your Pup Every Day
Last year was busy, and it’s safe to say that the new year will be just as hectic. But between earning a living and everything else you have to do, it’s always important to spend time with the dog. Remember, you have work, family, and friends to fill your life, but your dog just has you. For the next year, commit yourself to spending at least 20 minutes every day with your dog. This means no phone, work, or any other distractions. You can spend those minutes playing, giving pets, or grooming. The only rule is that you must give 100% of your attention to your dog. Make a tally every day to keep yourself accountable.
5. Go On More Interesting Adventures
A lot of times, dogs live their entire lives within the confines of their house or their yard. Or maybe they go out every day, but they do the same neighborhood loop over and over. For this new year’s resolution, resolve to treat your dog to a more interesting life. Start switching up your walks, even if you have to drive to a park or a different area to make it happen. Try taking your dog to interesting places like Petco, Home Depot, a friend’s house, or a hiking trail. Has your dog ever seen the ocean? What about snow? If your dog is anxious or reactive, there are still ways to make life more interesting. Aim for an interesting activity or adventure at least every week.
6. Prioritize a Healthy Doggy Diet
Your dog is what she eats. There are countless dog food brands out there that are made with nasty ingredients like meat meal and artificial flavors and preservatives. It has been proven that a healthy diet is key for a dog to live a long and healthy life. Your dog doesn’t know that certain kinds of food have basically zero nutritional value. It’s your job to do your research and find a food that provides all the nutrients your dog needs. If you’re currently feeding a low-quality dog food, make a New Year’s resolution to start prioritizing a healthy diet for your dog.
7. Forgive Faster
No dog is perfect–that’s just a fact. Like people, dogs make mistakes. Sometimes they chew on our favorite shoes, and sometimes they steal your burger right off your plate. When these things happen, it’s okay to be temporarily upset. But don’t let these mistakes affect your relationship with your dog. Don’t ignore the bad habits (they can all be fixed with further training), but don’t stay mad for too long. Your dog’s life is short, and they probably won’t understand why you’re angry. When you feel yourself getting upset, just stare into those adorable puppy dog eyes and choose forgiveness.
8. Invest in New and Interesting Toys
Toys are an important part of making your dog’s life more interesting. And the best part is, the pet industry is exploding with all kinds of fun new toys. Balls, stuffies, and tug toys are great, but there are so many different kinds of toys for your dog to check out. There are treat-dispensing toys that will keep them focused and puzzle toys that exercise their brains. You can also try out toys that encourage natural instincts like a flirt wand or snuffle mat. Switch out your dog’s toys regularly to keep their life interesting. Note—you don’t have to be constantly buying new toys. Store a toy in a closet for a few weeks, and when you bring it back out, your dog will think it’s brand new.
9. Commit to Preventative Health Practices
Preventative health isn’t as fun as new toys, but it’s a New Year’s resolution every pet parent should consider. Preventative health is taking steps now to help avoid health issues in the future. Flea, tick, and heartworm medications are an example. You can also commit to giving your dog a daily supplement to support their skin, fur, or joints. And while you’re thinking about it, now would be a great time to schedule your dog’s annual vet visit. Check to make sure they’re up-to-date on their vaccines and talk to your vet about any concerns.
10.Celebrate What Makes Your Pup Unique
Last but not least, make an effort to celebrate everything that makes your pup unique. None of our furry friends are the same, and they each deserve their own special kind of love and attention. You can accomplish this New Year’s resolution by throwing your pup a birthday party while doing their favorite activities. Is your hound crazy about the flirt wand? Why not take them to a lure course so they can really have fun? If your pup is obsessed with food, treat them to a special homemade meal. Find your dog’s love language and do what it takes to show them exactly how much you care about their happiness.
This list is your starting point, but feel free to make each of these New Year’s resolutions specific to your dog. Make your goals as specific as possible and write them down. Put your list on your fridge or somewhere else where you’ll look at it every day. Your dog will be so happy to spend the next year strengthening your friendship and living their best life.
What are your dog’s New Year’s resolutions? We’d love to know!