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Five New Year's Resolutions for You and Your Dog

Ways to Make the New Year Better for Your Dog

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When making your New Year's resolutions this year, keep your dog in mind. Sticking to the plan can be difficult - especially if you are only accountable to yourself. Try incorporating your own goals with a plan to improve your dog's quality of life. Making small, positive changes in daily routines can make a big difference for both you and your dog. Plus, you will be reinforcing that special human-canine bond. Here are some ways to get started. Happy New Year!

Exercise More

Woman Running With Dog
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Getting more exercise is probably one of the most common resolutions for people. Some of us want to lose weight, others just want to be healthier and more energetic. Your dog also needs plenty of exercise, and he too will reap the benefits. Obesity in dogs is becoming more common, and lifestyle has a lot to do with it. With proper diet and exercise, you can help your dog lose weight or prevent weight problems down the road. Try increasing the amount of daily exercise that you and your dog get. If you think you are getting the right amount, or you just don't have time for more, you can just change it up. If you take your dog for a daily walk, try running or powerwalking instead. Or, change around your usual route and play some intermittent games of fetch.

Enjoy Indoor Activities

Photo of Woman Brushing Dog
Photo © Plush Studios / Getty Images
There are plenty of days when the weather keeps you and your dog stuck indoors. Your dog might love snuggling on the couch while you read a book, but he will also appreciate some activity. Try a game of tug-of-war or pull out an interactive toy. Your dog is bound to enjoy the extra attention and little bit of exercise, and you will too.

Brush Up on Training

Photo of Dalmatian on Leash
Photo by Scott Barbour / Getty Images
Realistically, many dogs are not as well-behaved as their owners wish. However, this does not mean they are bad dogs. In most cases, dogs that will not mind you (and those with behavior problems) will benefit greatly from a training program. Working in 10-15 minute daily sessions will yield results in time. Dogs actually enjoy training and learning, as it is mentally stimulating and fulfilling for them. Plus, it's a great way for you to bond with your dog.

Participate in Dog Sports

Golden Retriever Doing Agility
Photo © Joe Camerino
Dog sports are becoming more and more popular every day. With so many sports to choose from, finding the right one for your dog should not be difficult. From agility and flyball to conformation and obedience trials, there is a sport for just about every dog. Dog sports will engage the dog's mind, exercise the body and promote the healthy bond between owner and dog. best of all, the dogs truly enjoy what they are doing. Learn about the various types of sports and decide if any fit your dog and lifestyle. Then, find a local organization to get started.

Get Started with Canine-Assisted Therapy

Pet Therapy Dog in Hospital
Photo by William B. Plowman/Getty Images
Animal-assisted activities (AAA) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) are wonderful programs that give back to the community. If you like the idea of volunteering to help the sick, the elderly or anyone with special needs, you might be able to get your dog involved, too. Therapy dogs and their handlers need to go through a multi-step education, training, and health assessment program to be sure the dog is up to the job. Not all dogs are right for AAA or AAT. Hyperactive, shy or skittish dogs are not ideal candidates. However, if you have a confident and easygoing dog that has mastered basic commands, you may have a future therapy dog.
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