- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Ready for a fresh start? While you’re putting together some personal healthy habits for the new year, consider adding some resolutions just for your dog. The two of you can accomplish these resolutions together—it’s a great way to bond with your pet, and who doesn’t want a buddy to help them stick to their goals?
Try out these fun New Year’s resolutions for your dog. If you need us, we’ll be over here flossing.
1. Bake more…dog treats!
Did you resolve to cook at home more often? Ugh, same. But before you resign yourself to meal-prepping salads every day, try baking. Not just any baking, though—baking for your dog! What better way to take care of your pet and practice your kitchen magic?
With a few simple ingredients, a little spare time, and a friendly four-legged helper, you can cook up a whole bunch of love for your best bud. Need inspiration? Try some delicious peanut butter and pumpkin biscuits, a tasty homemade bone broth, and tons of other DIY dog snacks that are easy to whip up in your home kitchen.
2. Be less thirsty
If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably tried all the tricks to help you drink more water. But what about your dog?
To help your dog stay hydrated, make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times. It’s a good idea to change out the water dish frequently, particularly if it looks fuzzy, filmy, or just less than fresh. (You can also invest in a dog water fountain to avoid stagnant water issues.)
If that’s not enticing your dog to drink more, you can supplement their diet with small amounts of water-rich foods. Try some delicious watermelon (just be sure to go for the seedless variety). Some dogs are more into veggies than fruit—consider letting your pet gnaw on a crunchy cucumber.
To protect your dog’s stomach, stick to small amounts of fruits or vegetables and avoid giving them too many new foods at once. If you’re concerned that something might not be safe for your pet, check with the vet before you serve it up.
(Also good to note that if your dog is refusing to drink completely or has stopped urinating, you need to visit the vet ASAP.)
3. Step it up
Time to get moving? Step counting isn’t just for humans. It can help you make sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise for their breed, age, and activity level.
Exercise is great for more than just your dog’s weight and general health—it helps keep them calm, happy, and out of trouble.
To keep an eye on your dog’s activity, you can tally up your own steps from your dog’s walks or even pick up an activity tracker designed for dogs! On days when you just don’t have time to give your pet enough exercise, hiring a dog walker or giving doggy daycare a try could help.
Need some tips on finding ways to work out with your dog? We have a great guide on getting active with your dog.
4. Take your vitamins
Dogs need vitamins too! This dog New Year’s resolution is all about making sure your pet has the right nutrients for their health.
Don’t just start feeding supplements willy-nilly, though. Before you start any supplement or vitamin, it’s a good idea to talk to the vet about what might be the most beneficial for your pet.
They might recommend a multivitamin designed specifically for your dog’s stage of life, a probiotic for good digestion, an omega-3 supplement for a healthy coat, or a glucosamine chew to help with strong bones and joints.
5. Get pearlier whites
It may not be the most glamorous of resolutions, sure. But don’t (ahem) brush off the importance of a great smile. This year, you can resolve to improve your dog’s dental hygiene to reduce the risk of gum disease, lost teeth, bad breath, and even heart problems.
Check out our helpful tooth-care guide for tips and tricks for getting your pet’s chompers in great shape. Even if you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before, it’s easy to get started.
Don’t forget to use a delicious dog toothpaste, which can make food-motivated dogs even more willing to brave the terror of tooth-cleaning.
6. Plan for trouble
Things don’t always go to plan. No matter where you live, a great New Year’s resolution for your dog is building a well-stocked emergency kit in case of a natural disaster, fire, or other unforeseen danger.
This kit might include things like first-aid supplies (think sterile gauze, bandages, waterproof paw protectors, tweezers, first-aid directions, etc.), any medications your dog needs, copies of their records, collapsible bowls, food, treats, a spare harness or collar, and a leash.
You can tuck this emergency kit into your own disaster-preparedness supplies, so it’s easy to collect everything if you need it.
Finally, be sure your pet is microchipped and wears a collar with updated tags. With some simple preparations, you can help protect your dog and keep them safe by your side in an emergency.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate
If you’ve ever desperately wished your dog could talk, you’re not alone. You probably know that dogs do communicate, though. They just employ body language—every flared whisker, head tilt, and butt wiggle has a meaning.
This year, resolve to learn more about your dog’s body language and help them understand what you’re saying, too. Even if you’re pretty sure you know everything about how dogs communicate, check out our dog body language primer for some tips and common misconceptions.
Begging for more? Dig into the details with behaviorist Victoria Stilwell’s dog body language lexicon.
Your New Year’s resolution for your dog can include practicing your communication skills together. Try watching your dog closely and writing down all the body language clues you see. If you want your dog to do something, see if you can communicate it with your own body language!
8. Get even smarter
It’s never too late—consider choosing New Year’s resolutions for your dog that challenge their brain.
You can resolve to practice a new trick with them every month and positively reinforce their progress with delicious snacks. Or try an awesome food puzzle toy that will be both challenging and tasty.
You can pick up nosework (a great way to entertain and tire out anxious or extra-smart pups) or set up a simple agility course for a fun, athletic, and brain-teasing activity that won’t break the bank.
9. Be present (and stop to smell the garbage)
Maybe one of your own New Year’s resolutions involves slowing down, being calm, and giving yourself a chance to take stock of the space around you.
Share that sense of peace with your dog by letting them choose the pace on their walks. Want to sniff that fire hydrant for twenty minutes? Sounds good. Need to find out what’s under this bush? We’re on it. Within reason (and when time allows), give your dog room to linger.
Sniffing is one way your pup gathers information about their surroundings, and applied animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell notes that dogs actually need to gather that information—and a walk may not be a fulfilling experience for them if they don’t get to literally stop and smell the roses.
It’s also a great idea to let your dog choose the direction of your walk—try following them for a while instead of making all the decisions.
10. Kiss the couch goodbye (well, just for a little while)
If you really want to spice things up for your pet, plan your dog New Year’s resolutions to create some delight and adventure.
Every month or couple of months, try out a new shared activity—going for a swim in a lake, checking out dog-friendly trails in your area, driving to a nearby town to visit a brand new dog park, staying in a dog-friendly hotel or short-term rental, or even just choosing a new part of the neighborhood for your walks.
Changing things up can give you and your dog a new perspective, a fun experience, and tons of exciting sights and smells.
Here’s to a great new year!
Featured image: Flickr/shanafin