As the New Year dawns, I encourage pet owners to resolve to improve their pets’ lives in 2009. A happier, healthier pet will make you happy, too. My resolutions include taking a Flyball class with my Corgi/Border collie mix, Augustin, and fostering a senior dog for a local rescue. I’ve listed some other possible pet-related New Year’s Resolutions. Please leave a comment and let me know if your resolutions involve your pets!
Shed Excess Pounds
Pet obesity is a growing problem. Obese pets are at risk for heart failure, kidney disease, and many other conditions that can shorten their lives. You can exercise with your pet, so this is a great resolution for both of you!
My dog is not overweight, so my resolution to take a Flyball class with Augustin won’t double as a weight loss program, but it’ll help prevent obesity in the future. If your pets are currently at their ideal weight, resolve to keep them there. If they’re overweight, resolve to slim them down, and schedule a vet appointment to discuss healthy weight loss. Pets can lose weight safely by exercising more and eating less, just like humans, but you shouldn’t drastically decrease the amount fed to your pet without consulting a vet.
Create A Safer, More Hygienic Environment for Pets
Cleaning litterboxes or small pets’ cages is no fun for anyone, but it still needs to be done for the sake of your pets’ health and comfort. If you’re a procrastinator, resolve to clean up on time in 2009. Even if you’re already tidy, you can keep your pets safe by resolving to evaluate your cleaning products and to replace as many as possible with natural, non-toxic alternatives.
Instead of commercial litterbox deodorizing powders, use baking soda in cats’ litterboxes to reduce odor. Use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect pets’ bowls and your kitchen counters. Make sure your pets’ shampoos are all-natural, and wash pets’ bedding or clothing with a detergent free and clear of chemicals and perfumes.
Train Your Pet
Training can prevent many behavior problems, provides mental exercise, and strengthens your bond with your pets. Even if you have a cat or other pet that’s not traditionally trained to obey commands, you can use clicker training to teach new behaviors. Resolve to spend more time on training in 2009, and both you and your pet(s) will reap the rewards of a closer, more understanding relationship.
Start small by making a resolution to spend at least 15 minutes every day practicing learned behaviors or teaching new ones. If you set at least that much time aside every day, I can almost guarantee you’ll find yourself spending more than 15 minutes on training each day, not because you can’t accomplish much in 15 minutes, but because you’ll be having so much fun!
If this will be your first time using a clicker, pick up a book or video to help you learn. You’ll rapidly discover that this method helps you not just to train your pets, but also to communicate your wishes clearly to them. Have fun!