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New Year’s Resolutions for Dog’s Sake
Dog-related plans for 2014

Years ago, my sister’s New Year’s resolution was to give up New Year’s resolutions, and she was one of the few people who stuck to her plan. (Success rates are generally less than 10%.) Her secret was resolving to do something that she wanted to do anyway. If your resolutions for 2014 are dog-related, make success more likely by choosing to focus on one or a few things that are of real interest to you.

Simple ideas for dog-related resolutions are plentiful. Here are 10 possibilities.

1. Leave that cell phone in your pocket on walks so that you are truly present and spending time with your dog. It’s the time you spend together that builds the relationship, and this is one of the easiest ways to enjoy each other’s company.

2. Try a new activity with your dog. Classes in agility, tracking, fly ball are common in many areas. Hiking, weight pulling, dock jumping, herding, lure coursing and canine freestyle are just a few of the other possibilities.

3. Provide better nutrition for your dog. This is a big task for most of us, but even a few simple steps can make a difference. Try a higher quality dog food, add fresh vegetables to your dog’s diet or vow to measure your dog’s food for every meal so there’s no risk of overfeeding.

4. Give back to the canine community. There are so many ways to help out such as walking an elderly neighbor’s dog, volunteering at a shelter or rescue, fostering a dog, or giving money to an organization that improves the lives of animals.

5. Teach your dog something new. Practical training skills such as walking nicely on a leash, waiting at the door or a solid stay all pay big dividends. Other possibilities are to teach your dog a new game so you can play together more. Fetch, tug, find it, hide and seek, and chase games are all options, though depending on your dog, not every game may be a good fit.

6. Make plans for your dog in the event that you die first. Financial planning so you can provide for your dog when you are no longer here as well as making arrangements for someone to be the guardian for your dog are two important steps.

7. Give your dog more exercise. This can be daunting so plan to make one small improvement to start. Perhaps add 10 minutes to a weekend walk or set up a play date with a dog buddy a couple of times a month. When it comes to increasing activity, every little bit helps, so taking one step in the right direction is a wonderful goal at this, or any, time of year.

8. Take better care of your dog’s teeth. Consult with your veterinarian about a dental cleaning or about brushing at home. Dental care helps improve overall health and can make your dog’s breath more pleasant, too.

9. Make plans in case of a medical emergency. Whether it is putting aside a little in savings each month or investigating pet insurance, the peace of mind that you’ve got it covered in the event of an emergency is worth a lot.

10. Go new places with your pet. Novelty is great fun for most dogs, so try to go a few new places this year. Perhaps a new pet store or a new hiking trail will provide your dog with an experience that is really enjoyable.

Love them or hate them, New Year’s resolutions are common this time of year. Do your plans for 2014 include any dog-oriented New Year’s resolutions?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

photo by Andrew Moore/Flickr

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Submitted by InfoBabe | December 30 2013 |

I have an expensive piece of jewelry. I have told the family that the person who adopts our pets when we die gets the jewelry. They are standing in line. I have done all the things on your list.

Submitted by Skye | January 6 2014 |

I respectfully disagree. You should take your cell phone with you for safety's sake, but have it turned off.

Submitted by Karen London | January 6 2014 |

I believe we are in agreement. What I had to say about cell phones was "Leave that cell phone in your pocket on walks so that you are truly present and spending time with your dog." Thank you for emphasizing the critical role that cell phones play in safety.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 7 2014 |

A gentle reminder, the police can track the location of a person only if the cell phone is turned on. My sweet husband had I have to remind each when we aren’t together with our precious babe (dog) the possibility of stumbling, falling, or hit by a vehicle while walking, running, or biking with our babe in areas where there aren't a lot of people.

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