New Year, New Dog?

This Year, I Resolve To… 

By now you have probably made at least a mental list of areas you would like to improve upon, even if you haven’t officially declared them to be “New Year’s Resolutions.”  Perhaps you want to shake up your exercise routine, drop a few pounds, adopt a healthier diet, get a higher paying job or take more vacations. But what about resolutions for your dog? No, we’re not talking about chasing more squirrels or scoring more treats. January is a great time to review your pet’s quality of life as well as your own. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Stop Overfeeding

When was the last time you read the feeding instructions on your pet’s food? Most animals will eat whatever you put out for them. If you’ve noticed that your pet’s figure isn’t as sleek as it once was, and your vet has ruled out any underlying health issues, try measuring their food for each meal. Serving a heaping cup instead of a level one can cause weight gain over the course of the year. At your regular checkup, ask your vet for food recommendations based on your pet’s overall health, age, and activity level. New options hit store shelves all the time. Also, consider adding some raw fruits and vegetables to your dog’s diet. Dogs love small amounts of diced carrots, green beans, zucchini, and apples.

Switch it Up

Dogs get bored going on the same walk day after day. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails right out our front doors, it’s easy to pick a new trail every weekend or every month to keep your pooch stimulated. If you can’t head to the trails, try doing your walk in the reverse direction, or switching up the route through your neighborhood.

Brush Up

If you don’t already do it, adopt a regular oral hygiene routine for your dog. Not only does regular brushing help prevent heart disease, it could save you hundreds of dollars in dental bills and help avoid painful tooth extractions down the road.

Teach a New Trick

Spending five minutes once or twice a day teaching your dog a new trick is a great bonding experience. A quick Internet search will give you dozens of ideas as well as access to hundreds of instructional videos. You may be surprised that even your older dog can learn something new.

Eliminate a bad behavior

Have you come to accept your dog pulling on the leash, counter surfing or jumping up on guests as normal behavior? Invest in a couple of sessions with a certified dog trainer who will come to your home. In just a couple of hours, you can make that unwanted behavior history.

 

This post first appeared in the January 2017 issue of Your Town Monthly magazine.

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