2013 is here!
Usually, I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions. (Let’s be realistic…who sticks to those anyways!) Call it maturity – or insanity – but this year I decided to outline a few areas of my life that I might improve upon. I didn’t write them down….I didn’t tell anyone…but I am going to keep them in the back of my mind as I travel through 2013.
Then I realized it might not be such a bad idea to make new year’s resolutions – just for my pups. My dogs are my constant companions…but when things get crazy, their wants and needs seem to be the first things to slip my mind. So, here is my list of 5 Dog Specific New Year’s Resolutions. Consider them suggestions, loyal readers; let’s see if we can take a few minutes out of each day and brighten our dogs’ lives.
1.) Hang out – OUTSIDE!
Imagine being stuck in your house for 23.5 hours a day. (Ok, so the first day would be glorious if you didn’t have to go out to work/run errands/be productive…but EVERY day?) Now imagine you are genetically hard-wired to roam around in the sunshine, but you are literally imprisoned in a house. (As humans, we really can’t even imagine what this is like!) This is the life of your dog. Dogs are animals first…and animals spend all their life outside. Do I want you to walk your dog? Of course I do! Walking is great bonding and is an awesome way for you both to exercise! Do I want you to take your dog to the dog park? Of course I do! What fun for your dog to get to make friends and socialize! Do I think it is realistic to tell you to routinely spend hours of your life doing these things with your dog? Of course I don’t! What can you do? You can spend time with your dog in your own backyard. You can take your dog with you when you visit your mom…go to the drive-up teller at the bank…go pick up fast food. Get them out of the house – when it’s convenient for you. Your pups will rearrange their schedules!
2.) Challenge their minds!
Some people (not you, of course!) think that dogs lack intelligence. This could not be further from the truth. Let me tell you – when you were a kiddo, you weren’t that smart. Your mom and dad had to spend hours teaching you how to talk, how to walk, how to read. They devoted their whole lives to it! Dogs, like humans, WANT to learn…and (unlike you in your childhood) they WANT to please their parents. So teach them! What can you do? As I have blogged before, I think you would be surprised at how quickly dogs pick up vocabulary. This could be as easy as saying “bone” every time you hand them a bone, or “Kong” every time they bring you their Kong for a peanut butter refill. Before too long, you can create a game – say the word, and as soon as your pooch brings the item to you…give her a treat. (You won’t need the treats for long – pups love this.) You can even sit on your lazy behind for this one! You can do it on commercial breaks, for goodness sake! It give your dog something to do, and they will love you for it. (There are also lots of puzzle toys you can get to entertain your dog while you are busy/away.)
3.) Keep them healthy!
Of course you take good care of your dog! You keep them hydrated and nourished. You give them treats and blankets and (if they are lucky) let them sleep in your bed. Some things, though, might slip your mind. What can you do? Every dog, every month, should be given heartworm medication. (I am especially bad about forgetting this. I feel horrible! I have the medicine, but just can’t seem to remember to give it to them monthly!) There are also little things you can do to keep your pups in tip-top shape. Cleaning out their ears every 2 weeks, trimming their nails, bathing them…all things we can do in our own homes that take a matter of minutes, yet sometimes these things slip our minds! Picking up poop is another thing we often forget. It’s our yard, why should we have to worry? It’s in the back, no one will see it. Dogs are low to the ground. They aren’t careful to avoid their waste, and they trample right through it. Then, their paws itch and they lick them. Not hygienic! (Oh – and they come right inside and jump on your furniture, pillows, bed, carpet…you see where I’m going with this.)
4.) Educate yourself!
How many books on dogs are there? We surely will never know, but it seems a new one comes out weekly. There are books on dog training, breeds, behavior, history, evolution…science has finally gotten around to studying the animals that live closest too us. There is a seemingly endless fountain of knowledge when it comes to our four-legged loves! What can you do? READ! Pick up any dog book that looks interesting to you, and read it. (I am a big fan of the library…so don’t even give me the excuse you don’t want to shell out the dough.) Even if you don’t pick up the most highly regarded one, it will get you thinking. Maybe you won’t agree with what that nut job author tells you to do, and you’ll start a conversation with your coworker about his dog. Maybe you won’t believe that a dog’s brain works like that, and a Google search will lead you to a site that will confirm the unbelievable and get you asking more questions. In any case, you will get a better understanding of what your dog is thinking or feeling…and why they are thinking or feeling that in the first place.
5.) Give them undivided attention!
Ok, so this last one is a broad statement. I’m not going to suggest where you do it, when you do it, or how you do it. I’m not going to say how often you should or how long it should last. I’m just going to suggest you spending some quality time with your furry best friend. What can you do? Put down your cell phone (I’m not even going to tell you to turn it off, because we are staying realistic here, people!) Turn off the TV. Shut down the iPad. Just BE with your dog. Talk to him. Pet him. Kiss him. Love him. Does he want you to throw the ball? Do it! Does he want you to lay down and nap beside him? Do it! All he ever wanted was to have your attention and to make you happy. (And treats…he wants treats!) Remember why you got this little guy in the first place! It wasn’t to bark every time your doorbell rang or to track mud in from the yard. You got him to be your companion and to make you happy. Let him do his job!