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Resolutions About Dogs

A humorous one contains great truths
By Karen B. London PhD, January 2018, Updated June 2021

New Year’s resolutions provide a great opportunity to put energy into the changes we would like to make, and many people want to work towards improving some aspect of their life with their dogs. That’s why part of my focus at this time of year is always to support others in their goals. I’m in favor of all plans to train dogs further, to be increasingly patient with them or to walk them more, along with any other change that is good for the relationship between dogs and people. I love hearing what people strive for in relation to their dogs beginning on January 1, or at any other time.

This year, the New Year’s resolution that really caught my attention is at the intersection of my love for dogs and my love for the sport of running. When asked by her personal trainer about her resolution for the year, one woman responded with, “To pet all the dogs.” When the trainer clarified that the question related to fitness, the woman’s response was, “to be able to run fast enough to pet all the dogs.”

Her goal may not be realistic, but I still love it and wholeheartedly support her pursuit of it, in the general sense. It speaks to the way many of us feel about dogs—that there are so many dogs and we want to love them all. Also within this resolution is the issue of an impossibility that many of us ignore, which is that if we just work hard enough, we can reach all the dogs. I know the woman was (at least half) joking when she proclaimed what she wanted to do this year, but there is such honesty in her statement that I’m thinking deeply about it even as I laugh in response.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution or goal related to dogs, realistic or not?

Photo: iStock

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life