Happy January, y’all. It’s the start of a new decade!
I used to not be a big fan of making a list of resolutions, but last year I finally gave it a shot and documented some goals for myself and the pups. We ended up doing a pretty good job of checking in on our goals and achieving most of our resolutions for 2019. The goals I had for the pups and I primarily included establishing more healthy habits together, especially coming off of the great news that Chibi is in the best shape of her life and can finally physically do dog things like long walks, running, and jumping! We even had a chance to vlog some park days and share our favorite long hikes to take together (Chibi’s new record is a whopping 9 mile round trip hike)!
This year, I thought we’d kick things off by sharing some ideas for healthy habits that you and your dogs can implement to start off the new decade on the right foot (or paw).
1. Daily quality walks
This one seems like a no brainer, but sometimes it’s easy to skimp on walking the pup when you have a busy day or if you’re running late. Kokoro and Chibi get a 20-30 minute walk to start off each day, and then another walk as soon as we get home from work. Keeping the time and length of each walk consistent will make for a super happy pup.
2. Add a regular long walk or hike to your calendar
Last year, we started going on weekly hikes at the park with the pups. We started off with shorter 1 – 2 mile excursions so as not to push Chibi too fast, and slowly worked up to a regular 4 mile hike. I’m a morning person (and my partner is not), so Sunday morning hikes with just me and the pups were a weekly highlight for Kokoro, Chibi and I to spend some quality alone time together. Adding these long walks really has helped both dogs’ endurance levels, and we even have been able to do the occasional super long hike up to 8-9 miles with the pups!
3. Try a new hobby or dog sport with your pup
If long walks and hikes aren’t your thing, think about adding a new activity with your pup such as agility or rally. Having a weekly class to go to with your dog has so many benefits. For a while, we were going to weekly agility classes with Kokoro and even got to the point where she started competing. Just make sure to check in with your dog and see if they’re enjoying that particular sport before you continue down the road. Dog sports are big commitments!
Or, maybe you want to try out a lure coursing event near you? Make an effort to try something new and see if your dog is a fan… because dogs need hobbies too!
4. Remember regular stretches and massages
Rehab is just as important as exercise, especially if you’re considerably increasing your dog’s activity level! Going to a year of consistent rehab for Chibi after her surgeries definitely jump started her muscle strength, body awareness, and ability to even return to long walks and hikes. Stretch and massage your dog regularly, and don’t forget to stretch yourself!
5. Add weekly training and grooming to your schedule
This is one that I feel like I slack on whenever things get too busy at work. Get in the habit of a regular brushing and nail trimming for the dogs to keep them in tip top shape, at least once per week. I’ve added a 1 hour block to my calendar at the same time every week so that I know that’s dedicated grooming time to spend with the dogs.
Once we’re done with our weekly grooming, I spend some time training new tricks to the dogs. Just because they’re older now and out of the puppy stage doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn! Teaching new tricks to Kokoro is one of our favorite ways to get her to tire out her brain and stay engaged with us. You can even make it a goal to get an AKC Trick Dog Title sometime this year!
6. Consider upgrading your pup’s food
We’re constantly trying to make sure we understand doggy nutrition as more and more research comes out about what’s good for your pup to eat. It’s especially important to pay attention for your pup because unlike humans, dogs eat the same food and meal pretty much every day! We’ve tried so many big brand and small brand foods throughout the pups’ lives: Purina brands, Blue Buffalo, Hill’s Science Diet, I and Love and You pet, Primal, Honest Kitchen, you name it!
We’ve been extremely happy since switching to Stella & Chewy’s a few years ago. Kokoro finally is eager to eat and finish her food, her coat has gotten fluffier and fuller, and her chronic tear stains have gone away. And for Chibi, she has become much more lean than her kibble-eating days! See her weight loss journey here.
I should note that we are ambassadors for Stella & Chewy’s, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend a dog food our dogs don’t love. If you want to give it a try, click here to get a $5 off coupon!
7. Think about their teeth!
Dental health is something that’s been consistently in the back of our minds as the dogs slowly age. We have begun taking both pups to a yearly non-anesthetic cleaning and check up with a doggy dentist.
You can decide how you want to maintain the health of your dog’s teeth. Is it a nightly dental chew before they go to bed? Is it a regular bully stick or chew to clean tartar off their teeth? Maybe you are able to stick to brushing their teeth for them every night. However you so choose, add a habit that addresses your dog’s dental health to your routine to be proactive! Check out the long-lasting chews we like to use to keep on top of Kokoro & Chibi’s dental health.
Remember to start small with implementing any new goals. As a past hater of resolutions, I had to change my perspective of how to use my goals and a guide before learning to enjoy making resolutions at all.
If you like some of these ideas, you don’t have to add all of them at once! Consistency is key, and once you start practicing a habit, it will quickly become routine for both you and your dog. 60 days is the magic number!