Forget going to the gym or learning Italian. This is the year to let your dog make your resolutions for you. After all, your pup’s life-long endeavor is to be your loving pet and loyal companion — the least you can do this year is bring an extra wag or two to his world. Besides, his resolutions will have you both feeling great, and the best part is, none involve spandex, spinning classes, or low-fat butter.
1. I resolve to take quality walks.
Chances are, your pup never says no to a walk, even if it’s the same old stroll up the block and back. But know that your dog craves new scents and sounds as much as you enjoy new scenery. So mix up your weekday walks with new routes, unfamiliar trails, and uncharted side streets and explore new neighborhoods and parks on the weekends. Better yet, research dog-friendly hiking spots in your area and venture somewhere new once a month.
2. I resolve to give less hugs, play more tug.
Maybe you’ve noticed that squirmy, help-let-me-out wriggle your dog does during what you consider to be a loving embrace. Unlike us primates, dogs don’t feel all reassured and gooey inside after a nice long hug. In fact, most likely they feel trapped — it’s just a canine thing. A hearty round of tug however, played appropriately, can be a huge stress reliever and a nice bit of exercise as well. Note: If you intend to make tug a permanent activity in your repertoire, drop it and off are important commands to know.
3. I resolve to regularly introduce “new” toys into the mix.
Remember, they don’t have to be store-bought new, just new to your pup — that is, something he hasn’t seen before (or at least in a very long time). So, swap toys with your dog-owning friends and neighbors so that every few weeks there’s something new for Fido to chase, charge, or chew on.
4. I resolve to throw a party.
We’re not (necessarily) talking about a fancy birthday fete or a bark mitzvah — though those are fun too. A rendez-vous with a couple of his favorite people — or at least people who adore him — will do. Play a few of his preferred games or simply ask invitees to practice a couple basic commands with him. It’s a chance for your dog to get praised, treated, and rewarded by someone else — great for socialization and a real boon to his confidence.
5. I resolve to bond outside the home.
Agility classes may just be the perfect combination of mental stimulation, physical activity, and most important, team building between you and your best friend. Dogs and humans both have a ball. But if weave poles and tire hoops seem too daunting, consider a Canine Good Citizen class, a program designed by the AKC (and offered in cities across the country) to promote responsible ownership and well-mannered dogs. You’ll brush up on your training techniques and your dog gets a refresher course in good behavior.
6. I resolve to keep my dog physically fit.
And truly, this is the only one that requires any willpower — we know that pleading puppy eyes are harder to resist than any French pastry or sloppy cheeseburger, especially when there’s a stash of treats at hand. But even though it seems like your dog is harnessing the world’s entire supply of Cute Power to get you to surrender that big hunk of cheese, know that he really means this: Please do everything you can to ensure that I’m healthy, mobile, and comfortable for a long, long time.
Grated carrots and a game of fetch, here we come.