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New Year Dog Resolutions!

Henry Toller Tails, dog, sniffing a tree.
Henry Toller Tails enjoying a good sniff during his sniff walk

It’s the first full week of the New Year. A time when humans either are the in the beginning or just starting to make New Years Resolutions. But New Year’s Resolutions don’t just apply to humans. Dogs and their dog owner can create their own joint New Year Dog Resolutions.

What is a New Year's Dog Resolution?

A New Year’s Dog Resolution is something that dogs and dog owners can do together that benefits them both.

Here’s some ideas for your New Year’s Dog Resolutions.

Daily or Weekly Long Sniff Walks.

Long slow “sniff walks” are a great decompressor for humans and incredibly mentally stimulating for dogs of all ages and types.

Alexandra Horowitz in her book, Being a Dog: Following the Dog into the World of Smell, details the nosy experience of how dogs see the world. Ms. Horowitz notes that “Dogs have from two hundred million to one billon receptors cells, depending on the breed, compared to the six million in [human] noses.” Humans assume that dogs are see like them, but us dogs primarily see the world through our nose.

For example, have you ever seen a dog who sniffs a person heavily or the air around them and become excitedly happy? Whatever the dog smelled is filled with positive associations that result in a happy reaction. Experienced dog owners have also seen the reverse, where a dog sniffs a person or the air and becomes agitated or reactive. Frequently, it’s because the dog smells something associated with a highly negative experience or emotion, which can cause them to become hyperaroused, fearfully reactive or nervously agitated.

Long sniff walks give dogs the chance to really engage with their world. It stimulates their brains and tires them out. For older or ill dogs, who may become depressed, a slow long sniff walk has emotional and mental health benefits as well.

Enrolling and Taking a Dog Training Class.

There’s more to dog training classes than sit and stay. There are Rally-O (rally obedience), agility, scent training and the list goes on.

You can find positive force free dog training classes for everything. The benefit of ongoing dog training classes run by certified dog trainers is they are excellent opportunities for humans and their dogs to bond and provide canine enrichment.

Assessing Your Dog’s Food and Diet.

Humans aren’t the only ones affected by a holiday weight gain. Dogs sometimes put on some holiday weight in response to the extra helpings and treats.

The New Year may be a good time to connect with your licensed veterinarian, holistic veterinarian or certified advanced canine nutritionist. Working with an experienced accredited professional, you can assess if your current dog’s food and diet is meeting all their needs at whatever stage and age your dog is at.

Trying Canine Enrichment Games.

Maybe your dog got a snuffle mat, puzzle or problem solving toy over the holidays. That’s great. Canine enrichment toys are a good source of mental stimulation. But you don’t have to buy a toy.

Canine enrichment games can be as simple as doing the dog muffin tin game. Another game is the “find it” game where you hide dog treats around a room at different levels while your dog is in another room. Once you’ve hidden all the treats, let your dog in to the room and watch them “find it”. You can repeat this game using scents and rewarding your dog when the find the scented item.

Arranging More Dog Playdates.

A dog’s life can be tough to arrange. Between your human life of work, household chores and more, sometimes your dog may not get all the doggy dog play time they need. Consider scheduling a regular dog playdate with your dog’s favourite pals.

If you don’t have time or the space to set up regularly scheduled doggy playdates, then a great option is sending your dog to a doggy daycare. The doggy daycare option also allows you to get some of those chores or work done while your dog is having fun.

A dog playdate with the right doggy friends or doggy daycare can do wonders for your dog’s mental health, physical exercise and ongoing socialization.

Happy New Year and Happy Dog New Year’s Resolutions to everyone!

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