January is a time for reflection and improvement. Many of us spend time looking back at the previous year and deciding how we can make the upcoming one even better. With the whirlwind that goes along with Christmas, it’s easy to put the needs of our human family before that of our pets. But, it’s absolutely essential that you continue to consider the wants and needs of your pet. They are, in fact, living creatures with thoughts and feelings and they enjoy a good New Year’s Resolution just as much as the rest of us, they just need our help putting it into practice.
If you’re like me, then you love to buy your pet things. I feel as though I’m constantly buying Django toys and treats and adorable dog clothing. Whether he enjoys them or not I have a hard time saying no when I’m in the pet store. Take this time to go through your pet’s things and get rid of things that are either old, or your pet no longer enjoys. Our pets don’t need a hundred different toys, in fact, having too many toys will confuse them and can result in them not playing with any. A few good quality toys are better than a bunch.
Consider putting a few toys aside as “special toys”. These toys will remain out of reach for your pet and you will only bring them out at specific times (when you want to reward your pet, or when you want to focus their attention). The fact that these toys will only be accessible on special occasions will ensure that your pet won’t grow tired of the toy.
Make an Exercise Plan
In order to live a happy and full life, a dog needs exercise. Period. Some dogs will need more and some will need less, but it is absolutely crucial that your dog is getting out to stimulate the mind and body. Dogs also crave routine. Set up a consistent exercise plan for your dog to make sure that he’s getting the proper amount of exercise throughout the day.
Plan events that you can look forward to as well, to keep you motivated. I like to plan long hikes, or walks around the park on weekends, which is great for my dog and also very healing for me after a long work week.
Plan Your Pet’s Finances
If you have a pet then you know it can get quite expensive throughout the year. Foods, treats, vet visits, boarding when you’re away, it all adds up. Just as you plan out finances for your holidays each year, plan out the money that you’ll need for your pet. If you’re going away on a trip, start preparing the money for a quality boarding facility to make sure your pet is being taken care of properly. Factor flea and tick medication into your yearly budget, and make sure that you prepare funds for any unexpected medical costs that may occur during the year.
Realistically your pet will not be able to see a tangible outcome with this point. This one is all for you and your sanity.
Reflect & Improve
Reflect on what kind of a friend you were to your pet in the past year and be even BETTER. We all need to remember that while we may have other things going on in our lives, our pets do not. We are their whole lives. Our pets love us unconditionally, so let’s make sure that we’re living up to that and giving them as much of ourselves as we can.
Spend some time writing down the highlights for your pet this year, whether it be learning a new trick, finally becoming house trained, or simply getting along with other pets in the neighborhood. Then, write down the goals that you want for your pet this year. This can be anything from more exercise to losing that extra bit of unhealthy weight. Be specific here.
Assess How You Can Help Others
There are millions of animals worldwide that are in need of help. The ASPCA estimates that there are approximately 6.5 million animals that enter shelters each year. That’s 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. Your pet is one of the lucky ones, he has a home and a loving family. Always remember that there are many animals that aren’t so lucky.
There are many ways that you can support these animals. The karma comes full circle for you and your pet.
- Adopt or Foster a Pet
- Spread the Word
Our pets mean the world to us, and it’s only fair that we show them that on a daily basis. Life can get busy, but it’s never too busy that you can’t reflect on your life with your pet and constantly strive to make it better. Going into the New Year, consider these 5 things and this year will be the best that your pet has ever had.