Millions of us make New Year resolutions and almost millions of us give up on them by February. But I find that when I make a promise – especially to someone else – I keep it. So, I’m inviting you to think about what might make life better for you and your dog, and promise your dog that you will do it in 2022. Here are a few ideas, but you will probably come up with better ones knowing your dog!
- Maybe you and your dog would benefit from longer or more frequent walks together in the neighborhood or on a local trail. Extra exercise would probably do us all good! If you have an elderly or mobility-impaired dog, remember that short frequent walks are better than long ones. If you have an older dog who isn’t able to walk much anymore, once a week you can drive somewhere new for a short walk – “adventure walk day.”
- Try a new activity that you can do together. Almost all dogs love to sniff, and nose work is an activity that even a reactive dog or an elderly dog can do. It is also both an indoor and outdoor activity. For something less formal, you can play together indoors – something as simple as hiding treats around the house to play “go find it.”
- If your dog loves to run and jump, consider learning a little agility. You don’t have to ever formally compete, but just getting confidence learning to jump on or go around objects is a great confidence booster and a way to stay fit – for both of you! You can practice in a park or in your back yard.
- If you have a dog who loves to swim, check out dock diving.
- Work on training just 5 minutes a day. If your dog doesn’t have good recall, that five minutes a day could mean the difference in being able to save his/her life by your pup coming when called in an emergency. Honestly, that is a request that you often have to train for a lifetime, and it is the most important one. Dogs love working for treats or for playtime with you, so even running through some basic sit, stay, shake commands is 5 minutes of your undivided attention that they love.
- Learn how to do some basic massage on your dog. We all feel good when someone can give us a little rub or a little stretch and it is a great way to really connect with your dog.
The possibilities are literally endless. And even 30 extra minutes a week of focusing on your dog and interacting with him can have a big impact on your relationship.
It’s always fun to give our dogs new toys, treats, or a new comfy bed. But it’s even more fun to find something to do together that will strengthen your relationship. And lots of those things are free!
January is the perfect time to reflect on how to enjoy more time with your pup in a way that is good for you as well as your relationship. What are your ideas for new activities/promises you can make for your dog?