Contemplating your New Year’s resolutions already? Thinking about changes you want to make to help you live a happier, healthier dog life? We have five New Years dog resolutions for 2021 to help you get started.

Learn New Dog Tricks

Hoping to learn a new skill or interested in taking some classes in the coming year? Teach your dog one new trick every month, using positive reinforcement dog training. Here are two to get you started for 2021.

Teach the “come” command: If your dog has the sit and stay commands down but falls short when you try to get him to come to you when called, the new year is the perfect time to take up some dog recall training. Although it’s more difficult than sit or stay, “come” is an essential command your pet should understand and respond to!

Get into nose games: All dogs explore their environment with their noses. Although using their nose is innate, distractions inside and outside the home can make focusing on a specific scent a bit difficult. However, you can help hone your dog’s sniffing abilities with nose work games. Teaching him to sniff out hidden treats, toys, and scents is a fun and engaging activity that can exercise his nose and mind. 

Make Healthier Dog Food Choices

Eating healthy is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. It’s also one that is quickly forgotten. We can choose to eat either a protein bar or triple-chocolate brownie with caramel swirls. Our pets don’t get to decide which foods they will eat each day; we determine their diet. So while you take a look at your eating habits, consider what you’re feeding your dog. Are there healthier options you can offer your pet

Not a baker, consider healthy peanut butter treats to use during your positive training. Remember, moderation is key; even the healthy stuff can prove too much. Treats of any kind are intended to supplement, not replace, your dog’s daily diet.

Get Moving with Daily Exercise

When stuck at home for days or weeks on end due to a pandemic, seasonal weather, or just because you’re a homebody doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get up and move with some daily exercise. Dogs, too, have trouble with obesity. According to a 2018 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55.8% of dogs in the U.S. are considered obese. 

If your dog has a weight problem, it’s essential you make one of your resolutions to get up and move with your pet to keep his weight in check. Head outside for some fresh air and exercise your dog to keep you and him healthy. There’s a bonus to this New Year’s resolution: A tired dog is a good dog! So if you have a barker, get him exercising. Stick with at least a daily one-hour routine, and it’s a win-win for you both!

Reduce Stress for You and Your Pooch 

Believe it or not, your pet can experience anxiety and stress for any number of reasons. Being left home alone, loud sounds from storms and fireworks, and even health issues can increase a dog’s anxiety and result in negative behavior. Although you can’t eliminate all of his stressors, once you’ve confirmed any anxious behavior isn’t health-related, interacting with your dog in play or exercise can help reduce his and your stress. Petting your dog or regularly brushing his coat can also be cathartic for both of you.

Schedule a Health Checkup (for You and Your Pets)

In addition to regular grooming and brushing his teeth, your pet needs regular vet visits, just like you do for your health, at least once a year. Older dogs may need two or three visits per year, and your vet will recommend the following, depending on your dog’s age, breed and overall health:

  • Vaccinations (ask about rabies, parvo, bordetella, distemper)
  • Urine and fecal tests (to check for intestinal and internal problems)
  • Coat and skin check
  • Eyes, ears and nose check
  • Dental check
  • Weight check and diet review

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