New Year's Eve

Make sure to set some New Year resolutions for your dog.

The new year is upon us and for most people it’s a time to set new goals for the months ahead. Maybe we’ll resolve to eat better, exercise more or lose some holiday pounds. How about making some resolutions that will benefit your dog as well? Here are some ideas that can enhance your dog’s life and strengthen your bond.

Exercise is on most of our lists, and it’s easy to include the dog. Start by adding five or 10 minutes to your daily routine. Slow down and let your dog sniff and explore. It’s vital for his physical and mental well being and it might be a good stress reliever for you too. Mix up the routine by choosing a new route every week.

Tackle your dog’s weight issues. More than half the dogs in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Start by measuring your dog’s food — with a measuring cup. Most people eyeball the amount, or worse, let their dog free feed, which can lead to weight gain. Purchase some food puzzle toys (or make your own) and teach your dog to work for his meals.

Prepare for emergencies. Make a pet evacuation plan and stock pet items in your emergency kit. Items should include medical information, current photos of your pets, food and water for a week, leashes and collars with ID and other first aid supplies.

Make sure your dog is wearing ID. Too many dogs are lost permanently if they don’t have ID tags or a microchip. Keep ID tags updated. A quick visit to the vet is all it takes to have a microchip installed.

Start a savings plan for pet emergencies. Investigate pet insurance, set up a special bank account and deposit monthly amounts, or save your spare change in a jar. Planning ahead can help offset an unexpected expense down the road.

Make an annual well pet appointment with your vet. Regular checkups and dental cleanings are vital for maintaining good health and catching potential problems early on.

Resolve to keep training. Spend a few minutes every day incorporating training into your daily activities. Ask your dog to sit before going outside or wait before getting out of the car. Use mealtimes to practice recalls so your dog is working for his supper and gets rewarded for coming to you. Use your daily walks to practice polite leash manners. Take a few steps together and then let him go back to sniffing and exploring.

Learn something new together. From obedience to agility to dock diving, scentwork to barn hunts, there is a dog-related activity for just about everyone. Working as a team enhances your bond with your dog and provides healthy mental and physical challenges. Look for reward-based classes or online courses.

Carve out a few minutes every day to play with your pooch. Games like fetch or tug are great interactive games and teach your pup it’s fun to be with you. Play hide and seek around the house and have a party when he finds you. Run around the yard together.

Finally, take time each day to just hang out with your furry friend. Provide love and affection and appreciate them for the unique creatures they are

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