With a fresh start to a new year, everyone is thinking about how to make this year better than last. Whether you want to get a new job, lose 10 pounds, or rebuild relationships with old friends, you feel motivated and are ready to make a change. Did you ever consider that trusty companion by your side might need a New Yearʼs resolution to get back on track, too? Simple things can change in your dogʼs life—and benefit you as well. Here are some easy tips to keep you and your pup on track for a great year.
1. Get Out for Fresh Air Take a hike.
Hiking is a great way to bond with your pet and get your daily dose of exercise. We are lucky to live in an area with plenty of local dog-friendly hiking trails. If you donʼt have a lot of time, take a walk around the block. Dogs benefit from roughly 30 minutes of daily exercise, and it can be a great stress reliever and activity for humans.
2. Make Healthy Choices at Chow Time
Many pet guardians “guestimate” the amount of food to feed their dog. To ensure you feed your dog the correct portion, use a measuring cup, and read the label on the food bag. The measuring cup will help with portion control and assure you are not over-feeding your dog. Instructions on the food label indicate how many cups your dog should eat daily, according to its weight. This will help your dog look better at your annual veterinarian visit.
3. Recognize and Reward Good Behavior
Start the new year off on the right foot (or paw) with good behavior. Since reinforced behaviors are repeated, catch your dog in the act of doing something good and reward the behavior. Keep treats in different places around your home so you will be ready at a momentʼs notice. If your dog is on a diet and “treats” are off limits, simply use regular kibble as a reward. For dogs that arenʼt motivated by food, try play as a reward to encourage positive behavior. Theyʼll be happier, and you will, too.
4. Teach the Four Paws Rule
Dogs tend to get excited when any guest comes to your home; itʼs their way of saying,“Hi!”Not all guests find this inviting, especially from larger dogs. When you know guests are coming over, place your dog in a different room. As your guests get settled, inform them what to expect and how to react. Put your dog on a leash instead of letting it roam free. When your dog has four paws on the ground, ask your guests to give your dog a treat. If your dog starts to jump, have your guest turn away and wait until all four paws are on the ground. This will lead a much more enjoyable and comfortable experience for your guests.
5. Open Up and Say“Aahhh”
Tooth-brushing is a habit humans have come to regard as essential for oral health. What most dog guardians donʼt know is that regularly polishing your poochʼs pearly whites has a huge impact on longevity and overall health. A quick daily swipe with a toothbrush becomes more familiar and easier over time and wards off compromised immune systems and health issues that can begin with periodontal disease. Not only will this help your pet to live a long and happy life, but it will also keep more money in your pockets via early detection of potential issues.
6. Lost Items Can Be Found
Each year, be sure to keep your petʼs information current. In case of an emergency, you should have your dogʼs microchip, municipal registration, and pet ID tag up to date with your current address, phone number, and email. To update the microchip, you will need to contact the microchip manufacturer directly. If you arenʼt sure of the manufacturer, the clinic that implanted the chip will have the information, or you can look up the number at PetMicrochipLookup.org.
Just like many other things in life, consistency is one of the most important keys to training with your dog. Not only will this help your dog with his behavior and health, but it will also get you moving and start the year right. Having a buddy to keep you motivated is always helpful. Although your canine companion isnʼt able to verbally motivate you, his positive spirit, loving attitude, and wagging tail will be sure to keep you going. Cheers to a new year, new you, and new canine companion.
Jessica Perrin is the digital marketing manager at the East Bay SPCA. She manages social, website, and marketing content for the nonprofit organization. Most of her career has been spent on the East Coast in the marketing and publishing industries. She recently moved to the Bay area with her husband and 7-year-old rescue dog, Sunny.