At the start of the year, we asked our community to 'paws' and reflect on what their pets would like to achieve this year. Here's what they had to say:
Get Outside More
Although travel options were limited last year, the good news is you don't have to go far to give your pet a new experience. The simple act of changing up your walk route can give your dog access to new and exciting scents. As restrictions permit, consider visiting your local park, conservation area, or simply try out a new route around your neighbourhood. The fresh air will do you both good!
Tip: Keep your pet protected from the harsh winter elements with coats, booties or paw balm.
Eat Fewer Treats
Healthy eating is perhaps one of the most common resolutions cited by both pets and their people – and for a good reason! Did you know that over 60% of Canadian pets are overweight? While it can be hard to resist those puppy dog eyes or your cat's gentle nudging, it's important to use treats in moderation. Opt for treats made from high quality, healthy ingredients and use in combination with other forms of rewards, like playtime, praise or a good snuggle session.
Tip: If your pet is struggling to cut back on treats, try setting aside a portion of their daily kibble to use as a reward for good behaviour.
Not only does playtime strengthen the bond you share with your pet, but it can give your mood a boost too! That's especially important these days as people and their pets are feeling the effects of social isolation. Help your pet burn off excess energy with a rousing game of indoor hide and seek, fetch, a new puzzle feeder or play with a wand toy.
Tip: Need some inspiration? Here are a few indoor activities to keep your dog or cat stimulated in the winter.
Get More Rest
Has your extra time spent at home been interfering with your pet's usual nap schedule? Does your pet get a case of the 3 am zoomies? Or perhaps this resolution was suggested more so for pet parents themselves! Either way, pets thrive on routine. Establish a schedule for meals, play, walks, litter box maintenance and bedtime and do your best to stick to it. If your pet seems like they have excess energy when you're trying to go to sleep, you may need to ramp up their exercise routine.
Tip: Bringing home a new puppy? Consider crate training, which can give your dog a safe space to retreat and rest.
Whether the mail carrier, squirrels or neighbours walking by gets your dog going, excessive barking can be frustrating for pet parents to manage, especially if you live in a condo or townhouse. Dogs may bark for a variety of reasons, from boredom to alerting to anxiety or fear. Get to the root cause of what is causing your dog to react to establish an effective response. In some cases, simply removing the stimulus can be enough to curb the behaviour. It's important to stay calm, patient and to use positive reinforcement to reward quiet behaviour.
Tip: You don't have to struggle with this on your own. If the problem persists, consult with your vet, behaviourist or a certified trainer for assistance.