Holidays with Dogs: Part 3 – Happy New Year, Looking Ahead

And here comes New Year’s Day, along with those obligatory resolutions … Every year most of us make resolutions about eating right, getting enough exercise, learning something new, being a better friend. This year, in honor of 2018: Year of the Earth Dog, I suggest we make some resolutions that will involve our dogs and be fun to keep!

Let’s start with eating right. Investigate what your dog is eating! Dogs need their basic nutritional requirements met to live healthy lives, and that means that we need to understand what those requirements are and what is in the food we are feeding them. Domestic dogs are basically scavengers, and are best served by a protein-rich omnivorous diet. The Whole Dog Journal has an insightful article about understanding pet food. The old line that you should never change your dog’s food is generally wrong, unless your dog has special dietary needs. Varying what your dog is eating will help keep their diet balanced and keep them interested in their food. There is also reason to think that it helps keep dogs from sensitizing to specific proteins.

We often enjoy exercise more with a good partner to help us keep to our routine. How often do you get out with your dog? That will vary by their age and physical condition. If you have concerns about your dog’s ability to take on a new routine, check with your vet. (The beginning of the year is a good time for an annual physical for your dog, too.) WoofTrax is an application that helps you log where you’re walking and how far you go, while supporting a local shelter or rescue!

Speaking of exercise, that’s something our minds – both people and dogs – need as well! For your dog that can mean something as simple as a new food puzzle toy to keep them guessing on how to get that delicious, well-balanced kibble, canned food, or home made dinner. Or it can be more extensive for both of you, like learning a new set of tricks, or taking up a dog sport like Nosework, Treibball, or Agility. If you’ve never taken a class with your dog, now is the perfect time to give it a try! Classes are not just about your dog learning new skills; good ones teach the team and give both of you better ways to communicate and enjoy each other’s company.

Best of all, any and all of these resolutions will make you a better friend to your dog.

Happy Year of the Dog to all of you!

Jen

I am a wandering hedge-scholar. Feet in the dirt, head in the clouds, dog by my side!
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