It is the season of snow, wind, and rain. From the east to the west coast, everyone is experiencing their wintertime scene.
The weather triggers a fireplace moment, a dog (or two) at your feet, and a cup of tea (or something else) in your hand. Isn’t it the perfect time to reflect on the changes you want or need to make in the new year for improved health and wellness and that of your beloved canine?
Some of the changes on your list may include exercise, diet, medical wellness, training, and bonding. Maybe you want to add taking up a new hobby to your list, too. Let’s look at these in more detail.
One word sums up the goal for exercise: move! Walking is the most likely exercise choice for you and your dog. How you proceed depends on your physical condition, your dog’s physical condition, and the outside temperature and weather conditions.
Your Physical Condition
If you have been active until now, you are probably in good physical condition. But, if you’ve been sedentary over the holidays or longer, then your walking plan should be modest until you build back up again.
Your Dog’s Physical Condition
Big dog, small dog, young dog, old dog: these are essential things to consider when setting up a walking plan for your pup. Given these issues, you will also need to consider your route: uphill vs. flat surface, rustic trail, or suburban sidewalk. Be careful not to take the exercise world by storm; instead, think of small milestones that can build to a more vigorous workout. Also lean on your veterinarian for guidance.
Temperature and Weather Conditions
If you live in Buffalo, NY, you’re facing piles of Lake Effect snow and frigid temperatures. If you live in San Diego, CA, you’re enjoying an average daytime temperature of 66 degrees and little rain during the winter months. The harsh weather of northern areas makes it challenging to plan a daily walk. In addition to the severe effects of windchill and low temperatures, the footing can be dangerous for both you and your dog. Streets and sidewalks are often covered with ice and snow, and salted streets wreak havoc on tender canine paws. On the other hand, rain and thunderstorms can be walk-hindering culprits in southern areas.
Improving Both of Your Diets
There’s not much to say about the holidays except that your waistline may have made your new jeans feel a bit cozier than you’d like. Did your dog also have more less-than-healthy foods?
Not to worry because there are always solutions.
You can engage the services and products of a meal-prep company where the foods’ portion sizes and nutritional value are assured. Or, you can prepare your healthy foods through the guidance of numerous diet plans, such as the Mediterranean diet regime.
But what about your dog?
It’s up to you to research the best diet options for your dog.
However, just like pet parents, top-shelf dog food companies provide similar healthy, adequately proportioned meals. These companies deliver fresh, “human grade” dog food directly to your door. Another alternative is to seek out the services of a veterinary nutritionist who can come up with a unique diet especially suited for your dog.
You may be beginning to emerge from your Covid-imposed cocoon, which also puts you at risk of catching all the colds and flu kept at bay for these last two years. There is also the variant rampage. Staying healthy is more important than ever, and for the human side of the equation, that means annual physicals and taking care of any untoward health issues that arise. For your canine best friend, that means keeping up with his vaccines, yearly wellness visits, and being vigilant about flea, tick, heart-worm protection, and dental cleanings.
Maybe you keep saying you need to do something about your dog jumping on people or being leash aggressive with other dogs. There’s no better time than now to find a good trainer and some training classes to deal with the issues that make for an annoying and sometimes difficult pup. David Greene, founder and head trainer of Performance K9 Training, offers individualized training for dogs with all kinds of behavioral problems. Greene is a true expert and top-notch trainer who has represented the USA on four world teams with his dogs. He will first meet with you and your dog to discuss the issues before moving forward to establishing a training plan for your dog.
Quiet time abounds this time of year, and what better way to share it and bond with your dog?
One of the best ways to establish a strong bond with your pup is to spend time training him! Work with him with a solid plan, keep your approach positive, and you’ll get impressive results both in his behavior as well as a strengthening of the bond and understanding between you. Plus, your frequent sessions with him reinforce his feelings of security.
Another way to bond is with decompression time like cuddling and nap time.
Do be careful not to affect your bond negatively. Frustration, inconsistent guidance, not providing enough things to keep his mind stimulated and engaged may present future barriers.
The couple that plays together stays together! So, how about taking up a new hobby for you and your dog? If you have a high-energy, athletic canine companion, investigate learning agility together. Hobbies can transform to a higher level, and perhaps you may have a canine superstar on your hands and get good enough to compete!
You can also bring joy and healing to others by becoming therapy certified to participate in animal-assisted activities or animal-assisted therapy. Not only will you bring joy to others, but you and your dog will also become key to improving human health through service. The best way to get started is to research national organizations specializing in therapy dogs.
Consider taking up hiking together. With just the two of you, you can enjoy the beauty of nature by further cementing your bond.
So much to think about, so much to do. So, drink that cup of tea (or whatever) and curl up with your bestie on the couch as you dream of the best ways to face 2022 as a fit, healthy, well-trained, and bonded team.