New Year resolutions – some people find the beginning of a new calendar year a good time to think about things they would like to do differently.
I’m personally not one of them…if I’m going to make a change I’ll make it when I need to and I tend to be fairly reflective throughout the year. I appreciate the prompt though, to reconsider what one is doing at least once a year.
As long as we’re stopping to reflect on how we live, it is appropriate to consider our relationship with our dogs.
Here are some potential resolutions that will improve both your life and your dog’s.
1. Regular exercise – some people are very good at this, others need to work on it; every dog appreciates at least one casual walk a day. Some dogs prefer faster movement, or can be happily exercised by playing fetch in the yard. Getting up and moving is good for both you and the dog in your life.
2. Moderation in diet – if you are one of those people who tends to over-treat your dog with food then reconsider how hard this is on the dog’s health. The new year is a good time to start gradually modifying your dog’s diet so that your dog will enjoy a better quality of life – any size dog will have greater trouble with their joints and mobility due to obesity.
An underweight dog on the other hand, has no weight reserve at all if he should get ill. If you are uncertain of your dog’s proper weight then talk to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
3. Training – having a moderately well trained dog can mean the difference between life and death for your dog. A good recall, i.e. a dog who comes when she is called is important – a dog who will immediately sit when told, even from a distance can stop a dog from dashing in front of a vehicle or otherwise putting themself in harm’s way.
It is useful to train your dog to several hand signals which will work from a distance even if the dog should not be able to hear your voice. Both “come” and “down” can be taught with large visual movement so that if a dog should get loose he can still see what you are instructing him to do.
I have known people who have kept their dog from being hurt or killed by having a dog respond to a distant “down” command quickly and thus not running out in front of a vehicle.
Of course, if you have a deaf dog hand signals are indispensable.
Resolutions are easily made but often hard to maintain. Routine is vital to making a successful change of practice. Setting aside 15 minutes a day to review training with a dog will bring about surprising improvements in your relationship with the dog and with the dog’s willingness to respond to commands.
Providing another 20 minutes a day for exercise will also improve your relationship with your dog and will promote better physical and mental health for both of you.
You may even find that over time you and your doggy companion will want to increase the amount of physical activity you wish to pursue.
Many of our resolutions fail because they are unreasonably difficult to maintain. Moderation and routine increase the probability that you will have success with your resolutions. And unlike some resolutions which are a trial, spending more quality time with a dog will prove to have more benefits than almost any other resolution a person can set for them-self.
My favorite part about resolving to make a change is that one can make a resolution and follow through on it any time of the year.
As trite as it may sound the truth is today is the first day of the rest of your life – whether “today” is January 1, or July 15, or any other day. Good luck and best wishes for the 365 days ahead of you and your canine companion.
Note: resolve to think twice about how you choose to decorate your dog…they have trees that will hold colored lights for example….