New Year’s Eve and the start of January see many of us looking back over the past year and reflecting over its highs and lows, as well as making plans to improve ourselves and our lives in the new year to come.
This of course often results in us making New Year’s resolutions for the year ahead, to introduce some positive changes to our lives and keep us accountable when the novelty of the new wears off and we start to return to our normal routines.
Whilst many of us take New Year’s resolutions with a large pinch of salt or deliberately avoid making them at all, this time of year does also provide a valuable opportunity to commit to improving our dog’s lives, introducing changes that can benefit them and even keep them healthy for the long term.
If you are looking for some seasonal inspiration to help to make 2019 a great year for your dog, and one that sets the tone for the future years to come too, read on to hear about five suggestions on ways to make 2019 your dog’s best year yet.
All dogs should visit the vet at least once a year even if they are in perfect health, to allow them to get their annual health check and vaccination boosters. This appointment also provides a valuable opportunity to talk to your vet about your dog’s general health and care, the best way to keep them healthy in the long term, and how to tackle any problems.
If you have been a little lax about your dog’s annual health check or if they haven’t had their boosters when they should have done, your first New Year’s resolution for your dog should be to book a consult to address this, and to get your dog back up to date with their shots and allow your vet to check them out.
Even if your dog has seen the vet within the last year, you might still want to book a consult to give your dog a mini health MOT, and if your dog is elderly or approaching their senior years, you might also want to ask your vet to run a general blood panel on them to identify their normal levels and potentially, to provide an early indication of any health problems in the making.
Dogs need different types and amounts of food at different times of their life, which should be designed to suit their lifestyles and activity levels as well.
Compare what and how you feed your dog with their age and activity levels to identify whether or not their diet is still a good fit for them, and make any adjustments if required.
This is also a good time to assess your dog’s weight and the amount of treats they get each day and make adjustments, or to allow you to set a portion of daily treats for your dog to ensure that they don’t eat too much.
A huge number of the UK’s dogs don’t really get enough exercise, which can result in weight gain and other problems too. If your dog is overweight or if you don’t think they get as much exercise as they should, now is the time to start addressing this by making an exercise plan for your dog, to help to improve their fitness and stamina, keep them trim and in shape, and ensure that they are both physically and mentally fulfilled.
Training a dog isn’t something that you do once and finish – it is an ongoing process that should continue for virtually your dog’s entire life.
Refreshing your dog’s skills and teaching them new ones not only helps to ensure that your dog is obedient and well behaved but also that they are mentally stimulated and have a task and goal, which can help to keep your dog engaged and even slow down the onset of brain aging as your dog gets older.
Additionally, many otherwise well trained and obedient dogs have one or two sticking points or difficult areas when it comes to their training and behaviour – perhaps they pull on the lead, jump up, or tend to push past you to get out of the door. These types of inconveniences are common among dogs as a whole, but you don’t have to put up with them.
Make 2019 the year in which you commit to identifying and correcting these niggling behavioural problems that can make dog ownership hard work, and improve your dog’s manners and responsiveness for the future.
Some breeds of dog need to be groomed more or less daily in order to keep their coats in good condition and prevent them becoming knotted and matted, but even if your dog has a very low maintenance coat that doesn’t strictly need to be brushed, they can benefit from regular grooming.
Schedule in a few minutes a couple of times a week to brush and groom your dog, which not only helps to keep their skin and coat clean and stimulate the circulation, but that also provides a valuable opportunity to bond with your dog and enjoy some quiet time concentrating on them individually.