Resolutions for Both You and Your Dog
Many people take the opportunity at the start of a new year to evaluate the past year, remember all the good that happened, and resolve to make some improvements for the next year. While your animals are not likely to be joining you in this introspection, it can be helpful to both of you to make some resolutions that include your animals. Many of the things that will benefit you will benefit them as well, and, often times, you can be more successful in achieving your resolutions with the help of a faithful companion joining you on your journey.
One of the top resolutions many people make is to get fit. Did you know that January is National Walk Your Dog Month? What better time than now to get started on your fitness goals by taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood? Just remember that if neither of you has been doing much walking, you may want to take it slow and build up to longer and faster walks. And, if you live in a cold climate, be sure to dress your dog for the weather. A sweater for short hair dogs – or any dog on a particularly frigid day – and booties can help ward off cold-weather injuries such as frostbite. Be sure to bring a towel to dry off your dog’s wet paws and belly if you are out in snow or rain and don’t stay out too long in low temperatures. And if your usual route starts to feel worn out, change things up a bit by visiting other neighborhoods, going for a hike in the woods, or heading to the beach. Both you and your dog will enjoy the change of scenery and the mental stimulation of all those new sights, sounds, and smells will be great for your dog.
If its just not a good day for a walk, you and your dog can still exercise indoors. Fetch, keep away, tug-of-war, and hide-and-seek are all fun ways to get moving inside. These games will also help keep your dog mentally stimulated and improve your bond with each other.
Another common resolution is to eat better, and you can certainly include your dog in this one. As you cut back on your own treats to slim your waistline and improve your health, remember to keep your dog’s treats to an appropriate level, too. You may love to give them, and your dog certainly loves to get them, but treating too often or offering treats that are too high in calories can lead to obesity. Even if you think your dog has a pretty great diet and you don’t overdo it with the treats, you can still make some improvements by adding in additional fresh fruits and veggies while you are increasing your own consumption of these health powerhouses. Slip your dog an apple slice instead of a processed dog treat and let him share in the health benefits. Just be sure that you are only giving your dog foods that are safe and healthy for him. For example, make sure there are no seeds in that apple slice, as the seeds can be toxic to your dog.
Perhaps last year was particularly stressful for you, and your resolution this year is to spend more time relaxing. You will definitely want your dog in on this resolution as dogs can really help us to chill out. Studies have shown that petting or playing with a dog increases oxytocin, which reduces stress, and reduces cortisol, which increases the stress response. Furthermore, living with a dog lowers blood pressure and improves mood. And having a dog in your family can help you be more social, which can also reduce stress. Walking your dog or taking your furry friend to a dog park can get you out into the world meeting and talking with other people, which can keep stress at bay. Finally, sharing your home with a dog means there is always someone there to listen to you and provide you with unconditional love. What better way is there to beat stress than that?
A new year often means New Year’s Resolutions. If you’ve set your mind to improving yourself this year, why not include your dog in your plans? He can help keep you on track and you can both benefit from all the good, new things you’ll be doing together. Whether its walking more to get fit or cuddling up on the couch to reduce stress, you and your furry companion can be happier and healthier together this year.