Monday, January 20, 2014

What Will the New Year Bring for Your Dog?

You’ve rung in the new year, declared your resolutions, and plunged head first into achieving them.  But what about your dog’s new years resolutions?  What do you hope to achieve for your dog this year?

A dog’s life should be consistent but certainly not stagnant.  Our dogs should keep learning and experiencing new things.  Here are a few doggie resolution ideas, some of which I’ve set for my own dogs Isis and Phoebe, that I hope will inspire you and your dog.

Substitute more healthy treats like carrots and sweet potatoes rather than buying expensive, packaged treats for your dog.  See my post on the Canine Crudite Platter for more examples of healthy treats dogs love.

Socialize your dog more often.  Get them out of the house not just for walks and hikes, but introduce them to dog friendly cafes, shopping malls, parks and events where they can meet & greet other humans as well as dogs.  When dogs stay in the house too much they can lose their socialization skills.  A well socialized dog is confident and a joy for everyone to be around.

Re-enforce basic obedience commands.  We shouldn’t just teach our dogs key obedience skills and call it a day.  Continual re-enforcement is critical for dogs to maintain reliable obedience skills.  I routinely practice all the basic commands with my dogs, as well as their emergency recall and other commands to ensure they still have them down.

Sign up for a dog agility class, offered by many dog training schools.  This is a great way for active dogs to sharpen obedience abilities, learn something exciting and challenging, and burn some energy.  Your dog will have a blast!  If he does really well you can enter agility competitions, which will earn you serious bragging rights and maybe some fun prizes too.

Learn a few new tricks.  Teaching your dog tricks is a great bonding activity for you and your dog, and is both physically and mentally stimulating.   Teach your dog some cool new tricks and impress family and friends when you show everyone how smart and talented she is!

Organize a dog walking group.  Connect with a few nice people with dogs that play well with yours at the dog park.  Invite them to get together for group walks at dog friendly parks, hiking trails, or beaches.   It’s great exercise for both the humans and the dogs and is a great way to socialize, share experiences and information, and make new friends.


Try out some interactive dog toys like this one to get your dogs mind working and give her a fun activity.  They can be a bit pricey but these interactive toys are more challenging and stimulating for your dog than a chew toy or ball.  You can find these at PetSmart, Petco, and online pet supply stores.  Isis learns pretty fast, but little Phoebe gets the hang of it soon enough.
 

If your dog has a calm, friendly disposition and loves people and other dogs, consider training him to be a therapy dog.  Therapy dogs bring comfort, smiles, and education to people in schools, nursing homes, libraries, hospitals and other places.  It’s a great way for you and your dog to help people in your community together.  If you think your dog may have what it takes to be a therapy dog, visit the Pet Partners web site to learn more about it at www.petpartners.org

Consider taking in a foster dog from a local animal shelter or rescue organization.  Not only does fostering save lives, but your dog may enjoy having a new playmate at home.  When I foster dogs in my home, Isis and Phoebe love having a new friend to join our walks and play with in the yard.   Contact an animal shelter or rescue organization in your area for information about fostering.

Learn Doga (doggie yoga).  OK, so maybe I should get the Yoga part right myself before I introduce my dogs to Doga!  If you enjoy yoga, search for yoga studios or instructors in your area or online that have added Doga classes to their repertoire.  It can be a good bonding and relaxation opportunity for you and your dog.  Check out www.Dogadog.com to learn more.  There are some interesting Doga YouTube videos as well.
Whatever goals you set for you and your dog this year, remember to have fun!

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