Attention Dog Parents!
5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – Wow! Welcome to 2012! As an inquisitive canine who knows a lot about human behavior, I’ve learned that many of you bi-pedals start the new year with a list of self-improvement goals for the next twelve months. I thought it would be the perfect time to jump on this little bandwagon, explore a few of the more common commitments found on these resolution lists, and apply them to life with a dog.
Here are my special tenet’s to honor the new year:
- Get Fit: Looking for ways to stay in shape or lose a little holiday weight? What about your dog’s weight? Is he or she more on the curvy side? How about their endurance? If either or both are an issue, or if you just want to maintain your current condition, the new year is an ideal time to start fresh, don some new athletic shoes and begin an exercise program. You will find no better or more enthusiastic training partner than your dog. Walking, jogging, running, hiking, playing hide ‘n’ seek, attending a dog training class or joining a canine sport group, such as agility or Flyball, are all known to boost physical and mental health – for humans and canines alike!
- Learn Something New: Think your dog is only able to absorb information when they’re a puppy? Newsflash, folks! You can teach an old dog new tricks! Yep – whether we’re old, young, big, small, male, or female, we are all eager to learn–and, we enjoy it! We’ll never argue about going to school, either! Dogs enjoy sharpening their skills, as well as learning new ones. Nowadays there are more options than ever for dog training classes and workshops. Once you’re done reading through your daily Edhat, head over to your Google search field and check to see what’s in your neighborhood or online in the virtual classroom.
- Enjoy Life More: Has life become too mundane? Are you walking your dog at the same time every day, or not at all? It’s easy for most folks to get into a rut or to avoid the last item on the checklist. How about changing it up this year? Spending more quality time with your dog can be a great way to break away from a daily routine that’s become just that – too routine. Something as simple as walking in a new place or even walking the same route in the opposite direction can make things more interesting. How about making arrangements to walk with a friend or neighbor? Variety is the spice of life for us dogs too!
You may even want to consider turning off all of the electronics and simply hanging out on the couch or floor with your dog for some bonding time. You could read your dog a favorite story, talk about your day (dogs are perfect to vent to; we are very non-judgmental), meditate or do yoga together (I’m quite skilled at downward dog). What a great way to clear the mind and spirit!
- Get Organized: Is the toy box spilling over? Are stuffed squeakies and old tennis balls under every piece of furniture? No need to wait until Spring: go through everything now. Throw out the non-salvageable, disgusting ones, and donate the unused ones to local shelters or give them to friends’ dogs. Other items you might want to go through are dog blankets and beds, leashes, collars and crates. Check with your local shelter to see if they want any of these items. Many rescue organizations have websites that list items they want and need.
- Help Others: There are more than likely plenty of volunteer opportunities right in your community. Besides donating unused items to local shelters and rescues, you might want to consider doing something with your dog that allows them to “give back”. If your dog enjoys being around people and other dogs, consider having him or her certified as a Canine Good Citizen with the American Kennel Club or think about joining a group such as the Delta Society where you and your dog can apply to become registered Pet Partners. Programs that allow you to visit places such as schools and nursing homes are fulfilling to both humans and non-humans alike. I myself enjoy visiting people of all ages. If you prefer to head out on your own, check with the local shelters to see what volunteer programs they offer. When I was living in my shelter, I enjoyed playing, walking and spending time with anyone who came by. I wasn’t picky about who gave me belly rubs – I just know I liked and appreciated their care and attention!
Paws and Reflect
My objective is to set you and your dog up for a successful new year! Remember to stop and smell the roses, trees and shrubs now and again, and to think about your best friend and how they can assist you in fulfilling your own life goals. On behalf of myself, my mom, and the Inquisitive Canine, we wish you and your family a very happy, rewarding and dynamic 2012!
Poncho Mayer is a 10-pound inquisitive canine who knows a lot about human and canine behavior. He and his mom work together running the family business providing dog training services to other inquisitive canines and their humans. For additional training and behavior tips subscribe to their blog.