This post is written by guest author, Britt Kascjak, from the Shed Happens.
December is upon us and 2020 is officially (finally) coming to a close. It is time once again to make goals for the coming year. If you are focusing on ways to improve your health and well-being, why not share these lifestyle changes with your best friend? After all, you will both benefit! Check out these 10 New Year’s resolutions for dogs and their owners to help you get started!
New Year’s resolutions are a way of making important lifestyle changes. They encourage us to self-reflect, identifying bad habits that we need to break as well as new habits that we should create.
However, these changes don’t happen overnight!
One of the biggest secrets to create resolutions that you stick to is to commit yourself and make yourself accountable. This can be done solo, but it’s easier to keep pushing through the challenges if someone else is joining you on the journey. Who better to team up with than your best friend, your dog?
Sure, your pup may not be able to talk you through the importance of your goals or verbally remind you of what you are trying to do. Although that likely doesn’t stop you from talking to them. They are armed with something even greater.
Look into your dog’s eyes and you will find all the inspiration that you need to make your goals come true. Why? Because there is nothing stronger than the unconditional love that a dog has for its owner.
Are you in need of inspiration? Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions for dogs and their owners to help you get started:
Find Time to Relax
We live in a society that teaches us to go, go, go. However, the constant grind only leads us to burn out, and fast! Rather than stressing ourselves (and our dogs) out by trying to maintain a hectic schedule, make 2021 the year that you start to prioritization relaxation.
I’m not talking about complete laziness (there is a difference).
According to the American Kennel Club, the average dog will spend as much as half of their days asleep. Why not embrace this and enjoy that downtime together? Sleep in on your days off or allow yourself to take that nap together on the couch. This will benefit you both mentally and physically.
Shed Those Extra Pounds
This is arguably one of the most common resolutions made each year by people across the country and around the world. What you may not realize is that many dogs could also benefit by shedding a little extra weight. Instead of taking on this lifestyle change alone, you can team up and support one another.
You can improve your physical activity levels by committing to walking your dog at least five times per week. You don’t need to go running or take a long, elaborate route to feel the benefits.
Even a 20-minute walk around the block each day can help you to lose weight and get in shape.
Prioritize healthier eating for both you AND your dog. This means cutting out those unhealthy treats and focusing on eating a well-balanced diet. Anytime you consider giving up, just look into your dog’s eyes and you will find the motivation to keep going. They really are the world’s best cheerleaders!
Drink More Water
Another great way to improve your overall health (and lose weight) is to increase your daily water intake. That’s right, you just need to drink more water. Sounds easy? For many people and their dogs, this can be a struggle.
As we discussed back in July in our interview with Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Holistic Housecall Veterinarian, there are many tips and tricks that you can use to make proper hydration a priority in your lives. This includes:
- Knowing how much water we need daily to stay healthy
- Recognizing the signs of dehydration and knowing how to react appropriately
- Consider incorporating foods that provide hydration, or ‘eating our water’
- Always bring water when heading out to make sure that you aren’t caught without when you or your dog are in need
Proper hydration has many benefits including improved skin and hair/fur quality, muscles and joints that work better, improved cardiovascular health, higher energy levels, and, yes, promoting weight loss.
Schedule Your Yearly Physicals
Yearly check-ups are an important part of prioritizing both our own health as well as that of our dogs. Unfortunately, many of us neglect to make these appointments until something goes wrong.
These appointments give the professionals the opportunity to identify and treat any health-related issues earlier. This means avoiding unnecessary pain and discomfort and potentially even saving a life! Commit to picking up the phone and making an appointment for you and your pup in 2021. The sooner, the better (or you may forget).
Learn Something New
Have you ever considered tackling a new hobby or skill? Why not take on something new as a team with your dog?
If you have a young puppy, a training class in your area could help you and your pup to learn basic manners. Not only is this a chance to have fun with your dog, but it will also help your pup to grow into a well-behaved family member.
For older dogs that already have a good grasp of the basics, there are many other new skills that you can learn together. Consider training for competitive events such as agility, dock diving or obedience. This is a great opportunity to have fun, spend quality time with your dog and meet new friends.
Take More Adventures Together
Do you travel with your dog? If not, why not give it a try?
There are a wide variety of different hotels and Airbnbs that accept canine guests. If this is your first trip together, start small. Consider taking a short road trip to the next town over for the weekend. This will allow you to ‘get away’ without expecting your dog to travel for too long.
If the trip doesn’t work out for any reason, you are close enough that you can easily travel home.
If you prefer to spend your vacation time outdoors, consider introducing your dog to the joy of outdoor travel. Dogs are great companions when it comes to camping, hiking, and canoeing. As with any other new experience, you will need to introduce your dog slowly and help them to learn the ropes. Have fun with it and you will make incredible memories together.
Schedule Time for Play
When most people create a list of New Year’s resolutions, they focus on productivity, weight loss and ways to actively improve their health. But don’t overlook the importance of play time in your busy schedule!
The need for playtime doesn’t end when you graduate from school and leave the childhood playground behind. Many adults see play time or down time as unproductive, feeling guilty for taking that time away from their to-do lists.
However, studies show that playtime brings many important benefits into our lives.
Find some time each day to step back from the stresses of life and just have fun. There is a good chance that your dog will be more than willing to join you in this effort!
One great way to encourage yourself to stick with your scheduled down time is to have play dates with other dogs and their owners. Not only will you all have a great time, but it is also an opportunity to socialize your dog in a safe, effective and fun way.
Love Others Unconditionally
This is a resolution that we, as dog owners, can learn from our dogs. After all, they are the best example of true, unconditional love that we could ever hope to find!
When you face challenges in life, your dog is always right there, happy to see you. It doesn’t matter what mistakes you have made, how much money you make or what you look like. They just want to be there with you at that moment.
Take a look at your other relationships. Are you loving them with even a fraction of the love that your dog gives you? If not, try looking to your pup for inspiration to start making some positive changes.
Volunteer in Your Community
This past year has been full of negativity, anxiety, and uncertainty. While there is no magical answer to the current global situation, there are many ways that we can bring joy and happiness to our own communities.
There are many ways that you and your dog can make a difference. The key is to find the right fit. Consider your dog’s skills:
- Do you have an incredibly patient dog with people? If so, they may excel as a therapy dog.
- Does your dog prefer other dogs? You may be interested in fostering dogs for a local rescue organization.
If this all seems a little overwhelming, why not start by looking at something a little smaller and closer to home. Your gesture doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful!
Take a look at your family, friends and neighbors. Is there someone that could use a little help? This could be as simple as walking your elderly neighbor’s dog when they aren’t comfortable going out or doing some grocery shopping for someone who isn’t comfortable going to the grocery store at this time.
Strengthen Your Bond With One Another
This is arguably the most important item that comes to mind when considering New Year’s resolutions for dogs and their owners. Why? The bond that you share with your dog is one of the most rewarding parts of being a dog owner.
This connection, known as the human animal bond, will benefit both you and your dog in a variety of ways.
The most important step you can take to nurture that bond is simply to spend more time together. This means putting down your phone, turning off the television and focusing completely on your pup.
Talk to your dog, make eye contact, cuddle together giving them all your attention or engage in their favorite form of play. Whatever it is, make sure that they know that they are the most important thing in your life at that moment.
Your efforts to strengthen your bond can also tie into a number of the other resolutions on this list. Dog training sessions, competitive activities and travelling together are all great ways to connect with your pup.
Do you have any plans to set New Year’s resolutions this year? If so, are you planning on including your dog? I’d love to hear your resolutions in the comments!
About the Author: Britt is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs Daviana and Indiana and their 2 cats Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.