Canine Resolutions

One sure bet about New Year’s resolutions – they are always crafted with good intentions. Did you write down the same ambitious resolutions from last year: to eat more spinach salads and fewer pizzas or to spend more time on the treadmill and less time in the recliner in 2018?

Realistically, what are the chances you will meet those resolutions? And more importantly, why not set yourself up for success by making resolutions you want to keep – ones to better the life of your dog?

“Due to the strength and exquisiteness of the human-animal bond, it is more likely that an owner will find it easier to adhere to a resolution for their pet than for themselves,” says Leni Kaplan, DVM, MS, a lecturer in the Community Practice Service at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y. “After all, maintaining a dog’s health is just as important as maintaining your own health.”

For your dog’s mental wellbeing, physical health and pure happiness, here are some resolutions for your consideration as you usher in 2018:

  • Be your dog’s lifesaving hero. Enroll in a veterinarian-approved pet first aid/CPR class so you can learn how to stabilize and immobilize your dog in an emergency and transport him safely to a veterinary clinic. Knowing what to do in a pet emergency is vital because every minute counts.
  • Become your dog’s at-home groomer. Invest five minutes every day or at least every few days to brush your dog’s coat. Be sure to use the right brush or comb to match his type of coat. Use this time to inspect his coat for any signs of fleas, bumps, lumps or other health issues.
  • Break up meal-time b Instead of plopping down the bowl for your dog, bring out his inner hunter by going bowl-free for at least one meal a week. Instead, put the measured portion of food in a food puzzle or treat ball for him to paw to trigger the release of the kibble out of the device. You are giving his brain a fun workout, too!
  • Weather the weather. Schedule daily mini-play sessions indoors during inclement weather. Engage your dog in a friendly game of tug-of-war or a game of “I-hide-you-seek,” or climb up and down the stairs together for an aerobic workout. These fun games strengthen your dog’s connection with everyone in your home.
  • Step up care for your senior dog. Provide him with furnishings such as a sturdy ramp to give him easy access to your bed or couch or guide him to an orthopedic doggy bed that is designed to cushion his arthritic joints and enable him to sleep soundly.
  • Be patient at potty time. Don’t always expect him to make his deposit on cue or quickly. Allow your dog time to sniff and check out his surroundings.
  • Avoid becoming a treat-aholic. It’s easy to succumb to those begging eyes and overload our dogs with far too many treats each day. This will cause them to become overweight, or worse, obese. Resolve to limit treats to no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily caloric needs and heap on calorie-free attention and affection. Make those treats go further by breaking commercially available treats into smaller bites. One soft pea sized training treat can be divided into 4 treats.

In a callout to our dog lovers on Facebook, here are some more resolutions to consider:

  • Scott Black, a professional pet sitter in Houston, TX: “My resolution is to provide more socialization for Chato, my blind and deaf Shar Pei/Bull Terrier mix.”
  • Ruth Stumme Cripe Coe, a retiree in Waverly, KY: “My goal is to love and protect Chula, my 14-year-old Chihuahua, until her last breath. She loves to travel and is my constant companion.”
  • Isabel Alvarez Arata, a professional pet sitter in Alexandria, VA: “I have four dogs ranging from 11 to 65 pounds and from 6 to 10 years old. I resolve to provide more walks for the dogs. Nothing makes them happier, and few things keep them healthier!”
  • Amy Shever, executive director at 2nd Chance 4 Pets: “More than 500,000 pets are surrendered to shelters each year – and sometimes euthanized – because their owners have become sick or passed away. Arrange for the lifelong care of your pets to ensure that they will never become part of this number.” Learn more at 2ndchance4pets.org.

My personal resolution is to unleash my goofiness in my dogs, Kona, Bujeau and Cleo. Dogs read our emotions, so I plan to boost their feel-good hormones with my puns, belly laughs, goofy faces and Snoopy-like dance moves in the living room.

May you and your dog enjoy a doggone grrr-eat 2018!

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT