New Year’s resolutions are a great way to set intentions for the year and commit to changes you’d like to make. And while you’re busy finding ways to advance your life goals, why not include a few for your pet?
Socialization is critical for young puppies and kittens and helps them develop into well-adjusted adult pets. But socialization doesn’t have to stop after those early formative weeks. This year, commit to introducing your pet to new people or environments. For dogs, this could mean trips to doggy daycare, the dog park, or down the street to your local dog-friendly coffee shop. For cats, consider inviting over a few mellow friends, so your cat gets used to company. In addition, having places to hide or perch may help shy cats feel more comfortable.
Be sure to pay attention to your pet’s body language regardless of where you go or what you do. If they appear anxious or show any signs of aggression, remove them from the situation and let them have some quiet time to regroup. When it comes to any kind of socialization, slow and steady is the way to go.
Being outside in the fresh air is a great way to enrich your pet’s life. Leashed walks in the park, hikes, or even just lounging in the backyard are all opportunities for your pet to take in the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. However, if your cat isn’t leash trained or won’t tolerate hitching a ride in a backpack, an outdoor catio might be a good option for them. Or if that’s not possible, a comfy seat by a screened-in window is perfect for bird watching.
Get more exercise
Many dogs and cats don’t get as much exercise as they need to stay happy and healthy. And often, humans don’t either! So look for ways to add more activities to both your days. For example, tack on a few more blocks to the morning walk. Or throw the ball or the catnip toy for an extra five minutes each day. There are plenty of ways you can stay active with your pet that are good for their health and fun, too.
Learn new things
Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Learning new things stimulates your pet’s brain and keeps them engaged. Daily training sessions to practice new obedience cues or tricks are great mental activities and an excellent way to strengthen your bond with your pet. You can also lean into your pet’s natural abilities. For example, consider teaching your dog nose work—a scent training sport that allows your dog to leverage their strong sense of smell.
Rest and recharge
Just like people, pets need downtime to rest their brains. And who better to chill with than their favorite human? Make time to snuggle on the couch with your dog or cat nap with your kitty each day. You’ll all benefit from the quiet time and the opportunity to unwind.
Create a dental care routine
Dental disease is common in dogs and cats and can lead to more serious health issues. At-home care—including teeth brushing and veterinarian-recommended chews, foods, or rinses—will help keep their mouths healthy. Plan a dental care regimen and do your best to stick to it. And don’t forget to schedule routine check-ups with your vet.
Drink more water
This one is mainly for the kitties. Cats—especially kittens, senior cats, and cats that aren’t feeling well—are notoriously susceptible to dehydration. So anything you can do to increase their water intake can be helpful to their overall health. Having access to plenty of clean water is key, so check water bowls frequently and refresh them throughout the day. Many cats also prefer running water. Or, if your cat is allowed on counters, give your kitty a sip out of the faucet when filling your own glass or brushing your teeth. You can also consider incorporating wet food into their diets, as that has a higher water content than dry kibble.
Regardless of which new habits you choose to build, they all share one key to success: consistency. It’s better to pick fewer resolutions (after all, they’re all great for your pet!) and stick to them than to try them all and lose steam as the year goes on.