I was down in Buckhead last Wednesday working with a new Home Dog Training client. Christmas has now come and gone, and they are now preparing for the “home stretch” running up to New Years.  They had always experienced some minor behavioral issues with their two-year-old American Bulldog, Homer. The problem was that all the excitement and build-up of the Holiday Season had exacerbated the problem.  

Make New Year's Resolutions for Both You and Your Dog

Homer, like all American Bulldogs, was just big and energetic.  My client had never really given him any clear and consistent rules.  Homer was never told that he wasn’t “the boss of the house”.  By the end of the lesson, he plainly understood what he could and couldn’t do.  He also became acutely aware that he was not the boss.  From now on, he must respect and obey my client.  My client and his family were excited with what they learned during the lesson and couldn’t wait to put their new knowledge into action with Homer.  On top of that, Homer appeared to be more relaxed and content with his new position within the family.

Near the end of the lesson, the small talk turned to “New Year’s resolutions”. My client joked that he would always establish tons of New Year’s resolutions every December.  He would even write them down.   The issue was that he would never keep a single one. As he was sitting next to Homer, I asked, “Why not have Homer part of your New Year’s resolutions?

I gave him some suggestions:

START EXERCISING AGAIN: “I am going to start an exercise routine, and, by golly, I am going to lose all that extra weight this year!”  This is always a fantastic idea that we hear from our doctor every year during our annual check-up. Why not have your dog help you in the process?  Get out in the neighborhood and go on long walks with him. Besides using the back yard as a “view you look at through the family room window”, take your dog outside into the back yard and toss the Frisbee or just throw tennis balls.

If you and your dog are up to it, pull your bike out from the back of the garage and take him on a bike ride around the neighborhood.  Start out with short rides on flat terrain and gradually extend the ride.  If you are really a “thrill seeker” and you “know how to do it”, try roller blading with your dog.  All these outside, physical activities help to strengthen your bond with your dog as well as keep you healthy.

IMPROVE AND ACTIVELY MANAGE YOUR DIET: Let’s start off the new year by taking a little bit more time understanding what we are placing in our bodies.  This is a great and simple way to help us stay healthier and even feel better.  With that said, it should make perfect sense that we also focus on what we are feeding our dog.  Starting with us, the easy fix is to stop putting the Captain Crunch and Chips Ahoy cookies in our shopping cart at Publix.  We should stop allowing our car from “mysteriously” turning in at all the fast-food places and making that “Race to the Border”. 

Now, as of January 1st, we should start looking at the fine print on our dog’s food bag.  We might have to put on our reading glasses, but it is critical that we review what is actually in the food.  What are the ingredients in our dog’s food?

First of all, it is important that you see a meat as the very first ingredient in the list.  On top of that, you should never, never see “by product” following the meat.  Next, “corn” or any corn derivative should not be included in the first four lines of the ingredient list. If the food you are feeding your dog cannot pass these two, simple tests, “you are racing him to the border”.  We recommend that you choose a healthy, natural food that has all the ingredients originating in the USA. We have fed our dogs a great food for over fifteen years. They have stayed healthy and have lived long and happy lives. Please learn more and order it at Really Good Dog Food.

ENGAGE IN HEALTHY AND FUN ENTERTAINMENT: With the pandemic at an end, it is time to try out the movie theaters again, use our season tickets at the football game, or try zip-lining (that may be a stretch!).  The important thing is that we get out of the house and engage in activities taking place in the “real world”.  It is time to remember what warm sunshine and a cool breeze feels like.

This is a wonderful thing for us, but we must assure that our dog has the ability to appreciate the same quality of life.  A simple and easy way to begin this process of external socialization and engagement could be as simple as taking him with us to Panera Bread or Dunkin Donuts (remember, only healthy stuff while you are there!). You might consider taking him to the local Doggie Day Care for a morning or afternoon of socialization visit. 

If both of you are up for it, combine exercise with entertainment by getting involved with a canine agility club. All these activities are excellent entertainment diversions that we can share with our dog.  Let’s make sure that we start doing them in order to enhance our dog’s lifetime experience!

FOCUS ON HEALTH:  We all put off going to see the doctor.  For example, we may have a “little hurt” in our back or hand, feel tired and run-down every once in a while, or notice a little rash as we are taking a shower.  We really “know we should go to the doctor”, but always come up with an excuse not to go.

Homer can’t speak or send a text to my client telling them that he “has a boo-boo” and needs to see the vet.  In many cases we may not have taken him to the vet for a long time.  Just like us, he still needs to have regular visits “just for a checkup” to make sure everything “looks good”.

Let’s use Homer’s inability to make the vet appointment as our justification for everyone to “see the doctor”.  Make an appointment with Homer’s vet and then call your own doctor to schedule your annual check-up.  Make the appointments close together so that one appointment will be the reminder for the other.

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.