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11 New Year’s Resolutions For Dog Parents Looking to Level Up

You already do a great job as your pup’s parent — but here are some shiny new goals for keeping them happy and healthy in 2023.

by Dr. Shea Cox, DVM, CVPP, CHPV
Updated December 29, 2022
woman celebrates New Year's eve with her dog
Photo: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

It’s that time of year: We’re all making plans to improve our lives with healthier, more joyful habits (or at least encountering targeted social media ads that suggest we should). And why should our dogs be excluded from all the dreaming? It might seem impossible for your perfect pup to get any better, but the new year is a great time to set new goals and reflect on our old ones. Here are a few suggestions for resolutions that can make life even better for you and your dog.

Exercise Mind and Body

Take your dog for more walks and exercise — after all, it is good for both of you. Teach your dog a new trick, polish up an old one, or enroll your dog in an activity class — agility, flyball, rally-o, or nosework. There are lots of options available.

Wellness Checkup

Take your dog for a yearly physical examination at your vet. Break down your dog-related tasks and add daily, weekly, and monthly DIY pup “check-ups” to your calendar — clean your pup’s ears, clip nails, trim fur (where needed), brush teeth, comb out fleas, and do some at-home examinations.

Keep Your Pup Fit

Put your pet on a weight-reduction program, especially if they may have overly enjoyed the food from the holiday season. Resolve to prepare more nutritious “homemade” treats for your dog. Adding simple and healthy toppings (such as carrots and blueberries) to your dog’s meals is a great introduction to cooking for your pup.

Check the Chip

Shelters are able to identify over 70 percent of pets that enter their doors, as long as they are implanted with a microchip — and one of the main reasons they can’t ID the others is because of outdated microchip information. So, make sure your pet’s microchip info is current and registered, and that they wear other forms of identification on a collar at all times.

Brush Those Teeth

It’s important to brush your dog’s teeth regularly because oral bacteria can enter your dog’s bloodstream and cause damage to their heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs. If more help is needed with their teeth or your dog is middle-aged or older, consider scheduling a cleaning.

No Fleas, Please

Practice effective flea and heartworm control all year long to keep your pet safe from preventable diseases. You can check for fleas while massaging your pup. Not only do they love the attention, but it feels good to them.

Get Back to Training

Start training again or take your pup to an obedience class. Even if your pet isn’t unruly, training keeps you both sharp and engaged. Do short enrichment episodes with your dog throughout the day such as hiding treats or pieces of kibble. Take long walks with your dog, and use that as an occasion to also extend training by calling to them often, rewarding spot-on recalls. Short reinforcement sessions are key.

Tidy Up Your Home

Reassess your home, making sure the environment is safe for pets. Cover electrical cords, remove potential toxins (such as Gorilla Glue) and plants, and know the location and telephone number of your closest emergency hospital.

Buckle Up

Buckle up your dog in the car. Dogs should ride in the backseat, away from the dashboard and safe from airbags. Unrestrained pets are dangerous to both you and your passengers; they cause accidents and can cause themselves injury. Use a seatbelt pet harness, dog-designed car seat, or travel crate to keep them safe.

Bonding

Remember that while it is fun to meet friends at a dog park, your dog and their activities should always come first. Don’t get so involved in a conversation that you don’t know what your dog is up to or let them feel that you are not paying attention. Put away your phone while out with them, too. Take the time daily to appreciate your pup; they do so much for you and ask little in return.

Make New Friends

Think of fostering or adopting a shelter or rescue dog — if you are a one-dog family, not only will your dog enjoy the company, but you can both help socialize the shelter dog. Or think of sponsoring a shelter dog; for very little, you can help decrease the costs of spaying/neutering, vaccinations, chipping, and more.

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Dr. Shea Cox, DVM, CVPP, CHPV

Dr. Shea Cox is the founder of BluePearl Pet Hospice and is a global leader in animal hospice and palliative care. With a focus on technology, innovation and education, her efforts are changing the end-of-life landscape in veterinary medicine.