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Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions: Why Not Include Your Dog?
As we throw away the last bit of holiday fudge and head into a new year full of new potential and new beginnings, I can’t help but wonder how many of our typical New Year’s resolutions can serve a dual purpose that includes 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 repurposed to benefit us as much as our dogs. We all know that a family with a well-behaved dog is a happier family overall.
So let’s take a look at the 10 most popular resolutions:
- Get in shape
- Save money
- Manage stress
- Volunteer to help others
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight
- Go on a trip
- Drink less alcohol
- Manage debt
- Get a better education
Now let’s look at how these resolutions can be tweaked to benefit both dogs and humans:
- Get in shape – It seems easier to stick to a fitness routine when you have a fitness buddy to keep 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. You start exercising and your dog gets a chance to burn off excess energy… and you get a chance to bond. Exercising with a dog is not only good for both bodies, but also 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 with too few treats, why not pull out the dryer you got a few birthdays ago and use it to make your very own dog. The next time you and your family have leftover meat that you planned to throw away, I recommend cutting the leftovers into small treat-sized bites and drying them in the dehydrator. Not only will you cut down on food waste, but you’ll be able to stock up on some inexpensive, preservative-free dog treats. If you don’t have a dryer, no problem. You can still use leftover meat… just remember to put a bag full of treats in the fridge to keep them fresh.
- Manage stress – I have been training dogs long enough to know that a misbehaved or poorly trained dog can put a lot of strain on a household. So do it the year you enroll your dog in a basic obedience class to get those skills up and running. If your problems go beyond basic obedience training, I recommend getting in-home help to get your puppy’s bad habits under control once and for all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the dog you’ve always dreamed of and finally have that stress 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 who need a good home.
- Stop smoking – Anyone who has ever tried to fight a smoking addiction knows that one of the hardest parts of quitting smoking is figuring out how to manage those cravings when common triggers appear. Redirection is something we do with dogs all the time. When puppies chew something they shouldn’t, we redirect them to the appropriate toy until it becomes a learned and acceptable habit. We refurbish them. That’s how it works in humans too. So the next time you have that morning cup of coffee with lots of it, reach for the dog and the leash instead of the cigarette. Your dog will appreciate you going for a walk and you’ll get a nice dose of the natural chemicals that exercise produces. You’ll get a buzz from exercising instead of smoking.
- Lose weight – The only thing better than living a long and healthy life is living a long and healthy life with those you love. When you’re deciding where to go on your weekly Saturday outing, why not find a dog-friendly place so your dog can come with you? You’ll both get a nice workout while also getting a good opportunity to bond. When you get home, your dog will be nice and soft so you can try on the smaller pants.
- Go on a trip – Lots of people can’t take the vacation they’ve always wanted because they don’t feel comfortable leaving their dog. Nowadays, there are many hotels that are dog friendly, as long as the dog is a canine good citizen. Make this year of training your dog to the point where passing the 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 behaved and more fulfilled canine companion, you will find that you will need fewer ghosts because life will be more pleasant and less stressful. (ok, this might be a stretch).
- Manage debt – If your dog is on commercial dog food, consider feeding him a more natural diet. While the food may be a little more expensive than your dog’s current diet, the money you save on additional vet visits and potential medications will offset the cost.
- Get a better educationn – Properly incorporating your puppy into your household dynamic will provide more free time to pursue larger life goals. By putting your dog on the back burner for training, exercise, and diet, you will finally be able to complete this 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 see how these changes are possible, make a plan to incorporate them as permanent lifestyle changes. Both you and your dog will see benefits, both long-term and short-term.
Happy New Year!
Chad Culp with http://www.ThrivingCanine.com/blog
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