Happy New Year!
Making a resolution for the new year is no small feat. Less than half of Americans actually make a resolution and less than half of all resolutions are maintained past June. What is it that makes it so difficult to establish and follow through with choices that will improve our lives? Some say it’s a matter of money, some say it’s a matter of time, some say they feel guilty putting themselves first. But, what if you could make a resolution that was technically not for your benefit, but for someone else’s yet, in turn, benefited you both? You can! Make a resolution to take the best possible care of your pet and you will both reap the rewards. With that as your overarching goal, here are some ideas for bringing that goal to fruition.
1. Organized activities and enrichment opportunities
Just as people do, pets crave routine and structure. They like to know when meals will be served when bathroom breaks will be taken, when walks will be taken, and when it’s safe to lie down and take a snooze. Many pet owners, however, do not think to schedule a time for their furry friends to play and socialize. Pets need outlets for their energy and opportunities to interact with other pets and people. Wonder why Fido chewed up your new boat shoes? Wonder why Whiskers whizzed in your suitcase? It’s possible that they are bored. Give your pets a positive outlet for their energy and curiosity by trying some of these activities:
- Play times – just like children, pets LOVE to play. But how often do you see children who want to play alone? Not often; and pets feel the same way. More than anything, your pet wants YOU to play with them. You are your pet’s best friend and vice-versa, and who doesn’t want their best friend to be their primary playmate? Every few hours, take 10-15 minutes to pal around with your pet. Toss a ball or play tug-of-war with Fido. Wave a feather or blow catnip bubbles for Whiskers. Just do any activity that your BFF loves to do with you.
- Play dates – To be honest, Whiskers is probably not going to be enthusiastic about a play date with your coworker’s cat. Fido, however, would most likely be thrilled to get together with one or two neighborhood canines for a romp in the park. Dogs are social beings and need lots of practice and opportunities to engage with other dogs. Not only do they release pent-up energy, they also learn how to interact with and behave around their peers. Make sure to introduce your dog to other dogs slowly and on neutral turf. A dog in his own yard may feel territorial and his visitor may feel unsure of which areas he is welcome in. Be certain to provide plenty of toys so there are fewer chances they compete for a certain toy. Also, do not leave your dog alone with a new dog. Your dog needs you present for reassurance and as a safe haven should he become scared or shy.
- Enrichment activities – Even if your pet has plenty of play time, he needs opportunities to use and expand his brain power. Just as learning a new language, working a crossword puzzle, or assembling a desk from a Scandinavian superstore challenges our human brains, enrichment activities for pets offer them ways to make connections and use their reasoning abilities. Find a dog treat puzzle for Fido or help him learn some agility stunts such as jumping small hurdles, navigating a play tunnel, or weaving through poles. Hide treats for Whiskers in a puzzle feeder or create a safe outdoor space where she can chatter at the birds and stalk through the plants.
2. Create a home-grooming routine
Keeping your pets in good health doesn’t just mean getting them vaccinated, feeding them a balanced diet, and making sure they get plenty of exercise, it also means keeping them groomed regularly and properly. Grooming can be a challenge for many pet owners, though. While some pets love being bathed and brushed, others (note – almost every cat) run and hide when they hear the bathtub run or see the brush in your hand. The best way to get your pets to feel comfortable, or simply tolerate, grooming is to start when they are young (or new to you) and have a routine so your pets can anticipate your next move and not panic. A few tips for your safety and theirs are to:
- Keep the grooming session short – Bathing, brushing, nail-clipping, and tooth-brushing all in one fell swoop may be overwhelming and stressful for your pet. One or two of these activities in a row is the most you should expect your pet to calmly sit through.
- Stick to a regular routine – If brushing or tooth-brushing needs to be done every day, do it at the same time every day. Try scheduling a time right after your pet eats breakfast or right before everyone turns in for the night.
- Praise your pet for his compliance – Being still is not easy for most pets, so offer yours a treat after a grooming session so they feel rewarded and loved.
- Be willing to alter the routine – Is Whiskers super active before bedtime? If so, that’s not the best time to groom her. Does Fido like to nap right after breakfast? Let him lie.
3. Create a budget for your pets that includes emergency funds
We all budget for our pets’ regular vet visits, medications, food, and other necessities, but it’s not until Fido eats a super-sized chocolate bar and needs to have his stomach pumped that we realize we should have budgeted for emergencies. It goes without saying that your pet will take at least one trip to the emergency vet during its lifetime. If your pet is high-energy, excessively curious, or a talented escape artist, you may even average one visit per year. Since a bill for the emergency vet can run two to three times as much as your regular vet bill, you don’t want to get caught unprepared. Just as you set aside emergency funds for yourself, your kids, or your parents, keep one for your pets so you never have to choose between overdrawing your account or making your pet suffer. Pet insurance is a terrific option, and we have one to recommend! Healthy Paws Pet Insurance will donate $50 for every new family that signs up.
4. Watch your tone
Pets do not understand our words. They understand our tone, our inflection, and the repeated sounds we make. Yelling during sports games, shouting at one another, and being overly loud or animated when addressing your pets can make them stressed or scared. For your pets’ sake (and for everyone in your home), lower your voice and speak calmly to create an inviting and pleasant home.
Here’s to you and your pets in 2018!
Source for resolution statistics: https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/