Dog Centric New Years Resolutions
Happy New Year to all of my readers! It’s strange to say that we’re officially in the year 2022 when I am in fact still mentally in March 2020 (insert laugh/cry reaction here).
A little bit about me and new years: I am a chronic “new years resolution”er without actually following through. Every year, I make resolutions, I stick to it for a little bit, and then I flake out (which I think is usually the case with resolutions, unfortunately, which is why everyone says to not even bother!).
Despite my consistent lack of follow through, it just doesn’t feel like new years without making SOME kind of resolution for me. So I decided to make a little post about what I consider to be “dog centered resolutions” that I’ll be considering for this year.
Usually when it comes to dog training resolutions it’s stuff the HUMAN wants to do with their dog; earn that special title, train that behavior, etc. But I want to make a resolution for my dogs that will deepen my relationship with them, that will take what THEY want into account, and that won’t be too difficult to keep.
My top choices for this year are:
Try one new food dispensing or puzzle toy a month. Doesn’t have to be fancy, it can even be DIY like a rolled up towel with treats tucked inside, or a cardboard box sealed shut with yummy snacks. But just trying one new enrichment activity a month will provide some novelty for my dogs, and novelty is something many of our pet dogs don’t get much of!
Start practicing some simple nosework. Grab a dozen boxes, throw food in each box, set the boxes up in a closed off room, then let your dog into the room with “find it” and reward them when they find the food in the boxes. It really can be that simple! Once your dog is excited about the game you can start to move the boxes further out, you can nest them inside of each other, try moving the game to different rooms or even outside! Studies have shown that nosework can help increase a dog’s optimism, so it’s never a bad idea to do some more!
Go to one new place a month for a walk or hike. Similar to my first suggestion, this one relies on some novelty. It’s so easy to get into a “rut” with our dogs, walking in the same area, same place, same time every single day. But new locations, provided your dog is comfortable going somewhere new, provide new sights, sensations, and most importantly SMELLS for your dog!
Resist the urge to move sniffing along on walks if there’s no real rush. This is the resolution I’m picking; in today’s go-go-go world it’s easy to rush our dogs when they’re taking their sweet time sniffing. Even I, knowing how good sniffing is for them, will still try to rush Regis and Phoebe along if I determine they’re taking “too long”. What is too long when a dog sees the world through their nose? Our dogs only get out of the house occasionally, and only when WE determine. Putting them in the drivers seat for the walk, and not trying to interrupt their “pee-mail” reading is one great step towards providing them with a better life!
Commit to training a cooperative care task. It is possible to teach your dogs to consent to and even ENJOY nail trims, tooth brushing, baths, and other grooming and husbandry procedures. This training is often times a long term project, and can seem boring to people who don’t particularly like training, but it’s one of the most empowering things we can do for our dogs!
Which of these resolutions resonates with you? Remember, even if you can’t commit to doing something EVERY DAY or EVERY WEEK, if you pick one of these and put it into practice even just a few times a month you will be actively improving your dog’s lives, and your relationship with them!