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Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions: Why Not Include Your Dog?
As we throw away that last slice of holiday fudge and move into a new year full of new potential and fresh starts, I can’t help but wonder how many of our typical New Year’s resolutions can serve a dual purpose that include our dogs.
According to a USA.gov survey, the top 10 New Year’s resolutions range from managing stress to losing weight. So, as a dog trainer who is always looking for win/win situations, I can’t help but wonder how many of the most popular New Year’s resolutions can be redesigned in a way where we would benefit as well as our dogs. We all know that a family with a well-behaved dog is a happier family in general.
So let’s take a look at the top 10 most popular resolutions:
- Get Fit
- Save Money
- Manage Stress
- Volunteer to Help Others
- Quit Smoking
- Loose Weight
- Take a Trip
- Drink Less Alcohol
- Manage Debt
- Get a Better Education
Now let’s take a look at how these resolutions can be tweaked in a way that both dogs and humans are benefiting:
- Get Fit – It seems to be easier to stick to a fitness routine when you’ve got a fitness buddy keeping you honest. If your New Year’s Resolution is to exercise twenty minutes a day, why not create an exercise program where your dog can join you? It’s the ultimate win/win situation. You get your exercise in and your dog gets a chance to burn some excess energy… and you get a chance to bond. Exercising with your dog is not only good for both bodies, it’s good for both souls.
- Save Money – Store-bought treats can be very expensive and full of preservatives. As opposed to paying too much money for a bag of too few treats, why not pull out that dehydrator you got a couple birthdays ago and use it to make your own dog jerky. The next time you and your family have left over meat that you were planning to throw away, I recommend cutting the left overs into tiny treat-sized bites and drying them in the dehydrator. Not only will you reduce your food waste, you’ll be able to stockpile some inexpensive and preservative-free dog treats. If you don’t have a dehydrator, it’s not a problem. You can still use your left over meat… just be sure to put your treat filled treat bag in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.
- Manage Stress – I’ve been training dogs long enough to know that a dog who misbehaves or is not well-trained can put a lot of strain on a household. So make this the year you enroll your dog in a basic obedience class to get those skills underway. If your problems go beyond basic obedience training, I recommend getting some in-home assistance to get your pup’s bad habits under control once and for all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the dog you’ve always dreamed of and have that stress finally gone?
- Volunteer to Help Others – If you find yourself in the market to add a dog to your family, consider adopting a dog from your local shelter. There are a lot of great dogs out there that need good homes.
- Quit Smoking – Anyone who has ever tried to battle a smoking addiction knows that one of the trickiest parts to quitting smoking is figuring out how to manage those cravings when common triggers present themselves. Redirecting is something we do with dogs all the time. When puppies are chewing on something they shouldn’t, we redirect them to an appropriate toy until that becomes a learned and acceptable habit. We recondition them. Well, that works with people too. So the next time you have that trigger-ridden cup of coffee in the morning, reach for your dog and the leash instead of a cigarette. Your dog will appreciate going for a walk and you’ll give yourself a nice little boost of the natural chemicals exercising produces. You’ll get a buzz from exercising instead of smoking.
- Lose Weight – The only thing better than living a long, healthy life is living a long and healthy life with those you love. When you find yourself deciding where to take your weekly Saturday hike, why not find a dog-friendly place so your dog can come with you? You’ll both get a nice workout while getting a nice chance to bond. When you get back home, your dog will be nice and mellow so you’ll have a chance to try on those smaller pants.
- Take a Trip – A lot of people are unable to take that vacation they’ve always wanted to because they don’t feel comfortable leaving their dog behind. Now-a-days, there are a lot of hotels that are dog friendly as long as the dog is a Canine Good Citizen. Make this the year that you train your dog to the point where passing that Canine Good Citizen test is easy so you can finally book that trip and include your dog
- Drink Less Alcohol – When you have a better mannered and more fulfilled canine companion, you’ll find you’ll need fewer spirits as life will be more enjoyable and less stressful. (ok, this one might be a stretch).
- Manage Debt – If your dog is on commercial dog food, consider putting him on a more natural diet. While the food may be a little more expensive than your dog’s current diet, the money you’ll save on extra vet visits and potential medication will offset those costs.
- Get a Better Education – Getting your pup properly integrated into the dynamics of your household will provide more free time to accomplish life’s bigger goals. By getting your dog the training, exercise and diet upgrades you’ve been putting on the back burner, you’ll finally be able to finish that Ph.D program. Who knew training your dog could be such a huge step in catapulting your life to the next milestone?
Now that you can see how these changes are possible, make a plan to incorporate these as permanent lifestyle changes. You and your dog will see benefits, both long and short term.
Happy New Year!
Chad Culp with http://www.ThrivingCanine.com/blog
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