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Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions: Why Not Include Your Dog?

As we throw away that last piece of holiday fudge and move into a new year full of new possibilities and new beginnings, I can’t help but wonder how many of the typical New Year’s resolutions can serve a dual purpose involving our dogs.

According to a USA.gov survey, the top 10 New Year’s resolutions range from stress management to weight loss. So, as a dog trainer who is always looking for win/win situations, I can’t help but wonder how many of the most popular New Year’s resolutions can be redesigned in a way that benefits both us and our dogs. We all know that a family with a well-behaved dog is a happier family overall.

So let’s take a look at the 10 most popular analyses:

  1. Work out
  2. Save money
  3. Manage stress
  4. Volunteer to help others
  5. Stop smoking
  6. Loose Weight
  7. Take a trip
  8. Drink Less Alcohol
  9. Debt management
  10. Get a better education

Now let’s take a look at how these decisions can be modified in a way that benefits both dogs and people:

  1. Work out – It seems easier to stick to a fitness routine when you have a fitness buddy to keep you honest. If your New Year’s resolution is to exercise twenty minutes a day, why not create an exercise program where your dog can keep up with you? It’s the ultimate win/win situation. You get your exercise and your dog gets a chance to burn off some excess energy… and you get a chance to bond. Exercising with your dog is not only good for both bodies, it’s good for both souls.
  2. Save money – Store bought treats can be very expensive and full of preservatives. As opposed to paying too much money for a bag of too few treats, why not take out that dehumidifier you got a few birthdays ago and use it to make your own dog. The next time you and your family have leftover meat that you planned to throw away, I recommend cutting the leftovers into tiny treat-sized bites and drying them in the dehydrator. Not only will you cut down on your food waste, you’ll be able to stock up on some inexpensive and preservative-free dog treats. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, no problem. You can still use your leftover meat… just be sure to put your treat-filled bag in the fridge to keep them fresh.
  3. Manage stress – I have been training dogs long enough to know that a badly behaved or poorly trained dog can be a huge burden on a household. So make this the year you enroll your dog in a basic obedience class to gain these skills. If your problems go beyond basic obedience training, I recommend getting help at home to get your puppy’s bad habits under control once and for all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the dog you’ve always dreamed of and finally have that stress go away?
  4. Volunteer to help others – If you find yourself in the market to add a dog to your family, consider adopting a dog from your local shelter. There are many wonderful dogs out there that need good homes.
  5. Stop smoking – Anyone who has ever tried to fight a smoking addiction knows that one of the hardest parts of quitting smoking is figuring out how to manage those cravings when common triggers occur. Redirection is something we do with dogs all the time. When puppies chew something they shouldn’t, we redirect them to an appropriate toy until it becomes a learned and accepted habit. We are remaking them. Well, this works with people too. So the next time you have that cup of coffee in the morning, grab your dog and the leash instead of a cigarette. Your dog will appreciate your walk and you’ll give yourself a nice little boost of the natural chemicals that exercise produces. You’ll be excited about exercising instead of smoking.
  6. I am losing weight – The only thing better than living a long, healthy life is living a long, healthy life with those you love. When you find yourself deciding where to take your weekly Saturday walk, why not find somewhere dog-friendly so your dog can join you? You’ll both get a nice workout while getting a good chance to bond. When you get home, your dog will be nice and mature, so you’ll have a chance to try on these shorter pants.
  7. Take a trip – Many people can’t take that vacation they’ve always wanted because they don’t feel comfortable leaving their dog behind. Today, there are many hotels that are dog friendly, as long as the dog is a good canine citizen. Make this the year you train your dog to the point where it’s easy to pass the Canine Good Citizen test so you can finally book that trip and include your dog
  8. Drink Less Alcohol – When you have a well-mannered and well-rounded canine companion, you will find that you will need less spirits, as life will be more enjoyable and less stressful. (ok, that might be a stretch).
  9. Debt management – If your dog eats commercial dog food, consider putting him on a more natural diet. While the food may be a bit more expensive than your dog’s current diet, the money you’ll save on extra vet visits and possible medication will more than offset that cost.
  10. Get a better educationn – Properly integrating your puppy into your household dynamic will provide more free time to pursue life’s larger goals. By giving your dog the training, exercise, and nutrition upgrades you’ve been doing in the back, you’ll finally be able to complete that PhD program. Who knew training your dog could be such a huge step in catapulting your life to the next milestone?

Now that you can see how these changes are possible, make a plan to incorporate them as permanent lifestyle changes. You and your dog will see benefits, both long-term and short-term.

Happy New Year!

Chad Culp with http://www.ThrivingCanine.com/blog

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