New Year’s Resolutions for you and your Dog
Happy 2020! It is the start of a New Year and we are all thinking about all the new resolutions we are going to start. Let’s not leave our dogs out of that tradition and list some ways we can improve our dogs’ lives, as well as our own this year, together!
1. Exercise and Daily Walks
Exercise is one of the most important things you can give to your dog. Canines are designed to be outside; roaming, hunting, working, and more. It has only been in recent years that we keep our dogs inside with us only as our companions. Dogs should spend between 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day, depending on their breed, age, and health. A dog will not get exercise by himself in the yard when you are away at work. He still needs at least 30 minutes to explore, travel, and consistent exercise with a person or other dogs. Breeds in the hunter, herding, working group (Retrievers, Shepherds, Collies, Hounds etc.) will need more than the average dog. Running, fetch, or long hikes are more appropriate for those breeds than just a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.
Make a goal: to start walking with your dog at least 30 minutes every day. They are the best accountability partner to get you out there and being active for yourself.
2. Food and Diet
Just like us, who put on a few pounds during the holidays, our dogs can suffer from having too much weight and are in just as much need of starting healthy eating habits as we are this January. Today, more than 54% of dogs in America are over weight. Obesity can cause serious health and behavior problems and shorten their life span. It is important to manage the amount of high calorie treats, table scraps, and portion sizes for your dog. Consult with your veterinarian about different food options and weight loss plans to ensure the proper care for your dogs needs.
Make a goal: to only give the recommended food portion for your dog each day. This can also be a reminder for yourself to manage your own food portions. You can both be on this healthy journey together.
3. Mental Stimulation
Today, most of the jobs our dogs were bred for are not needed much and we as a society are perfectly content with just having dogs as companions. Every dog was bred to do something whether it is herding sheep, hunting, guarding or more. Those instincts are ingrained in our dog's DNA and they have a strong desire to use their skills. That is why it is very important to give our dog a job and let them use their brain. Just like dogs we need a purpose and a job to challenge and improve our minds and utilize the skills we have to offer.
Living in a city like Nashville does present its challenges of offering our dogs their ingrained jobs. We don’t always have access to a flock of sheep to herd or snowy vast lands for pulling a sled for our dogs to practice. But that doesn’t mean their aren’t substitute jobs out there where our dogs can use their skills. Here are some examples of some jobs you can give your dog that will help satisfy his desire to work.
Freestyle to Music
Search and Rescue
Hide and Go Seek
Helping around the house
A dog using his brain will tire out faster than just doing physical exercise. The amount of mental stimulation varies based on breed but every dog requires some form of mental stimulation daily. Most bad dog behaviors shown in the house such as chewing, getting in trash, and destroying things are signs of boredom not just lack of training. If you do not give your dog an outlet to use his cognitive functions he will find an outlet for himself and you may not like what he finds.
Make a goal: Whatever skill or challenge you want to improve on this year, why not also learn a new sport or skill with your dog and enrich both your minds together.
Another great goal people are starting to bring more attention to is having mindfulness. It is so important to take time to slow down in this fast pace world and make time for quiet time and reflection. Dogs are amazing partners and reminders of seeking this important habit. They naturally live in the moment and show us how we can be present and not to be worrying about all the stresses of life. Dogs mirror our own feelings and emotions and they are a great visual reminder to us to be more calm and aware of our anxieties. Involving dogs in our quiet time is a great way of sharing a calming activity together.
Make a goal: to spend at least 15 minutes a day of quiet time and reflection. Practicing calming activities such as stretching, breathing exercises and praying are great ways to encourage a calm behavior for you and your dog.