We’ve just rung in another new year, and with it, more opportunities to spend time with your dog. While the phrase “New Years Resolutions” makes us think of going to the gym, there are plenty of ways to refresh your routine and have fun with your dog.
#1: Get Out More
While it looks like we might be entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, that doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck inside! Dogs love the great outdoors, which is a great reason for both of you to commit to spending more time in the sunshine in 2022.
- Take a road trip with your dog, using Bring Fido to find dog-friendly restaurants, accommodations, parks, and more.
- Commit to taking a daily, 10 minute walk.
- Take a hike! Tour your city or town’s local parks by visiting a new one each weekend. Last summer, my dog and I did light hikes in nearly two dozen parks in our county, and took a picture together after each one. You can use Google Maps to scope out nearby parks, or an app like DogTrekker to check out further hikes.
- Explore something new. If your dog has never been to the beach before, plan a day trip in the summer. If you live in a warm climate that doesn’t get snow, maybe you can travel (safely!) so they can catch their first snowflakes.
#2: Learn New Tricks
They say that old dogs can’t learn new tricks but it’s the new year and anything is possible. Dog training has benefits for both you and your pup. It’s mentally engaging for both of you, requires a lot of patience and control over your emotions, and is fun to show off to your friends and family.
So why not tackle some new tricks in the new year?
- Teach your dog a new-to-them trick like “play dead“, “roll over”, or “shake“. Or find a program with many new tricks (such as this one, or this one) and work through one each month.
- If you’re totally new to training, buy a clicker and teach your dog the basics of clicker training (associating the “click” sound with a treat). Then learn some basics like “sit” and “lay down”.
- Take an in-person training class at your local pet store or dog training business. Search Google for “dog training classes near me“.
#3: Take Better Care of Your (Dog’s) Teeth
We know, this one’s hitting a liiiiittle bit too close to home… “floss more” resolutions, anyone?
But dental health is very important for dogs, as they use their teeth for eating and playing, and don’t have the ability to brush (or floss) like we do.
So it’s on you to make sure that their teeth stay healthy so they can stay pain-free.
- Try brushing their teeth once a week (with lots and lots of positive reinforcement!)
- If they absolutely are not okay with teeth brushing, there are other options. Consider using dental chews on a regular basis (after consulting your vet) to keep their teeth in tip top shape.
- Book a dental cleaning with their veterinarian at least once this year.
#4: Get in Better Shape
While dogs would rather manage their own food intake, it’s their owner’s responsibility to make sure that they are well-fed but not too well-fed. Being overweight can cause hip or joint problems later in life, and being underweight comes with challenges too .
Often times, New Years Resolutions are motivated by guilt or shame. This is definitely not the intention when including fitness on this list!
Helping get your dog in better shape (whether that means losing or gaining weight, or being more active) can be a fun, shared activity that make both of you happier and healthier without any bad feelings.
There are plenty of fun activities to do with your dog that can make fitness fun instead of a chore (such as going to the dog park, going on hikes, and playing fetch). The trick is to make small, consistent changes over time at a pace that you can keep up with.
Be sure to talk to your vet before making any drastic changes. They can help create a plan that’s appropriate for your pup.
- Get a measuring scoop so that you are feeding your dog a consistent amount each day.
- Commit to a small and sustainable amount of activity each day, such as a 10 minute walk, or 15 minutes of backyard playtime. If you like tech gadgets, you can get a Bluetooth-connected activity tracker for your pet.
- Swap out high-calorie dog treats for lean training treats that taste just as good but are healthier for your pup.
- Often times, dogs can associate the reward of food with their owner’s love. Make a daily effort to show positive attention towards your dog with words and cuddles.
#5: Get Your Nutrients
“Let food be thy medicine” can apply to both humans and dogs. If you eat a well-balanced diet, you should be able to get a variety of nutrients from their food. But if not, it’s never been easier for dogs (or their people) to supplement their nutritional needs through vitamins. There are now supplement products for dogs, including Front of the Pack.
Adding vitamins to your dog’s diet should always be done with help from your veterinarian.
- Ask your vet for feedback on your dog’s food choices and see if they recommend any vitamins or supplements for your dog. If you have an older dog, they might recommend cosequin, a joint supplement to help prevent later issues.
- If your dog displays signs of allergies, such as skin conditions or frequent stomach distress, work with your vet to figure out what they’re allergic to. Tackling allergies is a tough task for any dog owner, but it will make your pet (and you!) much happier.
- Check out dog nutrient testing services such as ParsleyPet.
If you set a goal for yourself to start running or exercising, why not bring your dog along with you? Many 5k races will allow (well-behaved) dogs to join in on the fun.
But if you aren’t the running type, there are competitions for dogs, too! There are over a dozen different types of dog sports, with the most well-known being agility, obedience, and flyball. Many cities and towns will have canine sports clubs where you teach your dog a new sport, and even enter into competitions.
- Sign up for a 5K and bring your dog! Just make sure they’re well-trained and it’s okay with the event organizers.
- Search for agility, obedience, and other dog clubs near you. See if they offer any classes or competitions.
- Compete online! There are plenty of dog photo competitions including the AKC’s Photo Contest, Modern Dog’s Weekly Photo Contest, Pageant Dog, and Pupvote.
#7: DIY Together
Whether or not you learned how to bake sourdough bread in the first year of the pandemic, 2022 is a great opportunity to try out some DIY cooking and crafting with your dog.
Did you know that dog treats are pretty easy to make? Did you know that dogs look extra cute in clothes or costumes that you made for them? Why not spend some time in the New Year doing some hands-on projects for your pup?
- Find a dog treat recipe that sounds good, like these peanut butter treats, these frozen apple treats for summer, these pumpkin recipes for fall, or these fancy peanut butter biscuits (peanut butter is of course good all year round). Be sure to photograph your dog taste testing!
- Sew a new dog bed for your pup. Okay, maybe they don’t need a new dog bed but who doesn’t like more places to nap around the house?
- Make a dog toy out of old t-shirts (that you were going to MariKondo anyway, right?) or turn your extra fabric into dog bandanas.
- Create the cutest dog tent for photoshoots and to give your dog a break from the summer sun.
#8: Adulting™️: Dog Care Edition
This is for all the dog moms and dog dads out there. While owning a dog is a wonderful experience, it’s not without its share of responsibilities!
If you’ve been procrastinating on any “adulting” tasks when it comes to your pet, use the motivation of New Years to get some important tasks on the calendar.
- Getting microchipped helps ensure that your dog makes it safely back to you if they ever get lost. If your pup isn’t microchipped, call up their vet and get an appointment on the books. If you want to upgrade their dog tag as well, check out some customized options here.
- Ugh, insurance. While this is decidedly one of the least fun parts of being an adult, having pet insurance can help cover unexpected costs for accidents, as well as routine visits and any surgeries. We’ve got a brief guide on what you need to know about insurance here.
- Speaking of check-ups, schedule your pup’s routine checkups and vaccinations now so you aren’t waiting for an appointment later. If the timing doesn’t work out, you can always cancel or reschedule later. And while you’re at it, schedule your own (human) doctor visits!
#9: Learn a New Language
Earlier on this list we talked about learning new tricks, which is essentially your dog better understanding you (and words in whatever language you speak).
Understanding a dog’s body language helps you better understand them as an individual animal: what are their fears, what do they enjoy, what makes them anxious? What are their favorite activities? What does it take to help them feel safe?
Being able to understand (and act on) all of these things requires you to understand what they are signaling to you. Humans aren’t born knowing dog body language but there are plenty of opportunities to learn in 2022!
- Read a book on dog body language such as Canine Body Language or The Secret Language of Dogs. If you have kids, you can work through the book with them and identify pictures that look like your dog’s body language at a given point in time.
- Follow instagram accounts for daily bite-sized lessons on dog body language. @tailsofconnection has great posts including real-life videos of dog body language, analyzed by experts. @silentcanineconversations is another great option, with beautiful illustrated examples.
#10: Stretch More
This last one is for you! Dogs have a lot of wisdom to offer us, from their happy, laidback attitudes, to their unconditional love.
One practical lesson they have for us (that makes for a great New Years resolution!) is to stretch regularly. Your pup stretches every time they get up, and throughout the day if they’re feeling stiff.
So here’s a fun goal for you: stretch each time your pet stretches, even if it’s just for a few seconds. After a few weeks, you’ll be feeling limber enough to tackle more goals on this list!
We hope you found something that sounds exciting for you and your pup to tackle in the new year!
We wanted to close with one more reminder that New Years Resolutions for you and your pup should be fun, not a guilty obligation. If you commit to (or even dabble in!) one of the goals shared above, make sure you’re doing it from a place of curiosity and exploration, rather than out of a sense that something is “lacking.” You and your dog will have a much more enjoyable time if you do.
Happy New Year and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2022!