Enriching your relationship with your best friend
The New Year is always a good time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. I think back on the dog shows of the year, competitions, milestones, the heartache of a lost pet, and the happiness that comes with a household full of animals. Now is the ideal time to assess, reassess, adjust, and alter how I interact with my dogs. As we turn to a new calendar year, I begin to think about resolutions outside of cleaning the house more often and having my car’s oil changed. As a trainer, these are my resolutions for my dog for the New Year.
I will be better at considering my dog‘s needs over others. Many times I have allowed people to pet my dog, welcomed a dog-dog greeting, or have listened to other people trying to control my dog when it wasn’t necessarily in his best interests. I need to respect that my dog is allowed to have choice in the interactions he has. I need to listen when he says “no!”
I will be more consistent in training my dog, for his well being and safety. It is important to be mindful of how commands are used. Sometimes we ask our pets to perform a command or behavior for no reason. Sometimes we command them only to give up after a few seconds of frustration, derailing our training efforts. Other times obedience commands are more crucial: we need the dog to respond right now because they’re about to get plowed over by a tractor or kill the neighbor’s cat. I will work on my tone, consistency, and practice training skills on a regular basis for a more reliable — and therefore happier — dog.
I will ensure to stay on top of all veterinary and medical needs. This is not a difficult task for me, but plenty of people simply get caught up with their lives and forget about their pet’s maintenance needs. Make a list, check it twice, set reminders on your phone, or go old school and write in a calendar. Main things to remember include:
- Core vaccinations such as rabies, distemper, kennel cough, etc.
- Monthly preventatives such as flea and tick medication, heartworm preventative, and dewormer
- Grooming appointments and toe nail trims. Even if you don’t own a high maintenance breed, make Toe Nail Tuesdays a regular occurrence.
- Refill and order/pickup any specialty prescriptions. Be it food, pills, topical treatments, or creams, make sure you keep your pet meds stocked up before you run out.
- Schedule an annual physical exam for your pet, just to make sure everything is functioning properly. For senior pets, or those with medical conditions, it may be a good idea to send in some bloodwork.
I will exercise my dog even when it does not suit me. The reality is the majority of our pets are overweight and under-stimulated. It is only human nature to try and dodge a walk on a cold rainy day, but the reality is both humans and dogs need regular outings for a healthy life. I will put on my boots, grab my coat, and ensure he gets the physical (and mental!) exercise he needs.
I will set my dog ups for success, not failure. Rather than being frustrated because the dog simply is not listening, I will try to problem solve the situation and try a different approach. More often than not, owners expect their dogs to automatically know what is expected of them. I will take the time to teach my dog what is or is not acceptable behavior.
I will try something new with my dog! There are so many fun activities available to dogs and their owners. I have participated with mine in dock diving, agility, and obedience competitions with great delight. This upcoming year I hope to try some new tricks, a different discipline, or a new sport to strengthen the bond between my dogs and I.
No matter the past history or age of your dog … it is not too late to start improving your life with your pet.