Getting more exercise, losing weight, eating healthier and learning new things are among the top New Year’s resolutions—for dogs. Yep, the latest data shows that almost one-third of pet parents set resolutions for their pets in the hopes of helping them have the happiest, healthiest and most paw-some new year.
Whether you think your dog could stand to shed some weight or needs to try a new ‘do to tackle their shedding, these eight resolutions should top your list.
Prioritize healthy habits
It’s time to get those steps in. More than half of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of arthritis, cardiovascular disease and other serious health issues.
Setting wellness resolutions for dogs can do more than just help your dog lose weight. Research shows that overweight and obese dogs have shorter lifespans, so changing the number on the scale could help them live longer.
Even if your dog doesn’t need to lose weight, exercise will help keep their bones, muscles and heart strong, burn excess energy and reduce anxiety.
Focus on training
All dogs could benefit from obedience resolutions.
Teaching dogs the fundamentals like “sit” and “stay” will not only lead to canine behavior improvement, learning doggie manners will also keep them safe, build their confidence, provide mental stimulation and create a strong bond.
Dogs that have mastered basic commands can take their dog training goals to the next level. Advanced training techniques build on basic obedience and can include off-leash training, tricks, completing agility courses (and competing in dog sports) or even becoming a therapy dog.
Set a resolution to teach your dog new things throughout the year. You can practice commands and tricks on your own or hire a trainer to help you achieve your dog training resolutions.
Start a healthy diet
A complete and balanced pet food is chock full of all of the proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for good health—and your pup thinks their food tastes pretty good, too—but that doesn’t mean their diet doesn’t need some work.
Common nutritional resolutions for dogs include:
- Consulting with your vet to choose the right pet food for your dog’s age, breed and health needs.
- Calculating the right number of calories based for your dog.
- Cutting back on treats to help with weight loss or switching to fresh fruits and vegetables or other healthy dog treats.
- Adding supplements to help senior dogs with issues like joint and cardiovascular health.
Offering more mental stimulation
Dogs might not solve crossword puzzles or win chess matches but dog brain games are still important.
Without enough mental stimulation, dogs become bored—and bored dogs can be destructive. Instead of letting your dog chew up the couch or dig a giant hole in the yard, play hide and seek and tug of war or hide treats in a snuffle mat for your dog to find. These enrichment activities for dogs are great boredom busters.
There is another benefit to making mental stimulation resolutions: Doggie brain games help release pent up energy, build confidence and ease feelings of frustration and anxiety. In fact, mental stimulation is as important for dogs as exercise for their health and wellbeing.
Spend more time outside
Make a resolution to plan more outdoor adventures for dogs. Go for a hike, build an agility course in the backyard, play on the beach or explore a new neighborhood (with stops for a pup cup).
Spending time outdoors is a great way to help your dog meet their fitness goals. Use Whistle devices to set activity goals as part of a dog-friendly exercise routines. Taking your dog on outdoor adventures will also expose them to new sights, sounds and smells, which is excellent for socialization and mental stimulation.
Build on bonding and socialization
You’ve been bonding with your dog since the moment you signed the adoption papers. They tag along on errands, snuggle on the couch for movie nights and (admit it) helps you polish off the pizza crusts.
Building a strong connection with your dog is key to their wellbeing. Your dog not only depends on you to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and exercise; they also look to you for training and play time. In the New Year, look for ways to build that bond by sign up for a training class, prioritize interactive games and spending more time together.
Don’t forget about socialization goals: Introducing your dog to new people, pets and places can build their confidence, reduce anxiety and help them feel more at ease in the world. Socialization is also great for reducing boredom and giving your dog healthy outlets for their energy. Bonus: your dog will get lots of attention when you’re out and about.
Plan a spa day
Grooming isn’t just for longhaired dogs or breeds with fancy cuts. Regular grooming is important for maintaining a healthy coat for dogs; it reduces shedding, prevents painful, overgrown nails and keeps your dog looking (and smelling) great.
Making grooming resolutions for the New Year is also a great way to promote skin and coat health, monitor for fleas and detect possible skin or coat issues. Ask your vet for recommendations for a local groomer or follow these dog grooming tips at home:
- Brush your dog at least once a week (more for longhaired dogs) to prevent matting and remove excess hair.
- Bathe your dog as needed using a shampoo formulated for dogs. Thoroughly rinse the shampoo with warm water and gently towel dry your dog. Remember, bathing your dog too often can strip the natural oils from their skin and dry out their coat.
- Check their skin for signs of redness, flaking skin or fleas. All Whistle devices offer health monitoring tools that detect increases in licking or scratching that could be a sign of skin issues.
- Check their ears for signs of redness and foul odor that could be a sign of ear infections.
- Trim their nails, taking special care not to cut them too short. If you’re not sure how to trim nails, make an appointment with the groomer or veterinarian.
Highlight health and safety
One of the most important canine health resolutions you can make is keeping dogs safe in the New Year.
Schedule a wellness checkup with your veterinarian. Preventive care for dogs, including vaccinations, parasite prevention and dental cleanings are essential for keeping your dog healthy all year long.
Start the New Year off right. These eight resolutions will help your favorite four-legged friend have their best year yet.