New Years Resolutions for your Dog

By Di Ellis

It's that time of year. The time when we reflect back on another year passed, and think about what we want to do differently in the new year. More often than not, our resolutions are very self-focused, like losing weight and quitting smoking. And these are all great. But what about including your four legged friend in some of your resolutions?

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Basic Commands: if you haven't already taught your dog the basic commands, such as Sit, Stay and Come, why not make a resolution to do just that in the new year.
  • More Exercise: resolve to take your dog for longer walks. You can start with just 5 minutes extra, or an extra walk in the morning or evening. But keep trying to increase the length of your walks until your dog is getting a good hour's exercise each day.
  • Take Time for Play: if you work 9 to 5 and your dog is home alone, make sure you set aside special time with your dog when you return from work for some play bonding. Dogs love playing, and even 10 minutes a day is better than none.
  • Eat Better: just like us, I am sure your dog has piled on a little extra weight over the holidays. It's not just the treats and presents, it's all those extra visitors sneaking titbits under the table to the dog. Cut back portion sizes if necessary, and why not experiment with home cooked dog food rather than commercial tinned or kibble food. There are lots of free dog food recipes out there.
  • Exercise your Dog's Mind: no I am not crazy. You can exercise your dog's mind by playing hide and seek with it's treats, using a Kong ball for treats, or teaching him to recognise an object or item and then retrieving that for you. This could be a favourite toy or a newspaper – just get him or her to associate the item with the word.
  • Look After Those Teeth:  dog's can't brush their own teeth, so you need to do it for them. Either literally (you can buy dog toothbrushes and toothpaste – don't use our toothpaste as it is poisonous for dogs) or by feeding your dog raw bones or specially designed dental chews. You'll be happy later without the huge vet bills that tooth decay can cause.
  • Teach Your Dog Manners: there are a couple of things you can do here. If your dog is a jumper, teach it not to jump. If your dog barks at cats or birds, then teach it to be friends.
  • The Older Dog: if your dog is getting on in years, consider some special treats for your elderly pet. Why not take him or her swimming – it's great exercise and a lot less stressful on those arthritic joints. Or if you live in a house with a lot of steps, why not build a portable ramp for your pooch. A lot easier than walking up stairs. (Although I must tell you, when we did this for an elderly dog of ours, he wouldn't use it at first – we called it the ramp of death. We did eventually train him to walk up and down it on leash and by holding a treat in front of him just out of reach. Persevere!).

There's plenty you can do to make life more interesting and enjoyable for your four legged friend. But is this what your dog would want?

I spoke to an expert (my dog Hamish) and asked him what his own new year's resolutions were going to be. Here is his unedited list:

  • I will not break wind under the dinner table, even if there is a cat around to blame
  • I will not yelp and pretend the cat has attacked me when he really only just walked by (he thought about it!)
  • I will not pull on the lead when we are on walks
  • I will not bark like a banshee whenever visitors arrive
  • I will not land on squishy bits when I jump on my owners lap over-exuberantly
  • I will try not to snore until my owner is asleep
  • I will get out of bed when she does and not lie around waiting for the magic "walk" word
  • I will be brave at the Groomers and not try to run away
  • I will not, absolutely will not, allow anyone to put a ribbon on my head or dress me up in dog clothes!
  • I will eat the food they put down even though I'd rather have what they are eating
  • I will not mooch for chocolate (not sure how long I can keep that one up)
  • I will let my owner towel dry me after a bath and not shake until she is out of the way (not sure how long I can keep that one up either)
  • I will let my owner brush my coat (it's easier than having to cut the tangles out later)
  • I will not make a fuss when they leave me home alone, and I certainly won't trash the place
  • I will take more naps

So that's it. Some new year's resolutions for you and your dog to make life more fun, more enjoyable, and more healthy. May you all have a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

About the Author

Di Ellis is one of the owners of BestDoggieTips and the author of 10 Things You Must Teach Your Puppy Before They Are A Year Old.