Do you have any New Years Resolutions for your dogs? It’s always good to think of ways to improve your dog’s life when approaching a new year, whether it is health, behavior, well-being (enrichment), or just learning a few new things. In our household, this year has been tough for humans, but pretty good for the dogs – as the way it should be. But what will we focus on for next year? It is sure to be better than last – this much I hope for at least!

Happy New Years from the dogs!

Happy New Years from the dogs!

Mort and his issues

Our work is never done with our four-legged companions, especially when they are high-maintenance or have their issues. Mort, pictured above, is a “fire” dog, which means that he’s a little drama queen and a bucket full of emotions. He goes from zero to 100 in 1.3 seconds flat. Every emotion is punctuated with an exclamation mark. I’m SAD! I’m HAPPY! I’m PLAYFUL! I’m TERRIFIED! I’m CONSTIPATED! I’m RELAXED! I’m so BORED! You know how he’s feeling exactly, but he gets there instantly – so if it’s terror or anxiety, you have little time to get ready to deal with it. He is built this way, so he’ll always be a work in progress. And that’s what keeps life interesting!

So for Mort, our resolution is to continue on with getting his nails shorter. We made some big progress late this year in teaching him to file his own nails, which takes care of all eight of his front most nails (which are also the longest, yay!) He bites his dews and rears, so it solves most of the problem. However, I’d still love to be able to clip his dew claws – so that’s what we’ll be working on this year.

On a more fun note, I also hope to enter Mort into a Disc Dog competition where I don’t ruin his chances at completing it or even getting a ribbon of some sort (he’s great, I’m not). We also want to try Splash Dog (dock diving), maybe to the point where he doesn’t need a “swimmy vest”.

And we will definitely be entering Mort in his first Flyball competition running on the full team. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out yet where we could travel out to a competition since he has been ready to run on the team, but we are planning for a meet in February.

Mort on the Flyball box

Mort chimes in that he wants to do lure course in 2014. Lots of it. It is his favorite. And maybe learn a new trick or three…

Mort balances on hydrants. His goal for 2014 is to turn around in a circle while balancing on it.

And what about Tig?

Tig is our laid back, couch English Shepherd. She loves watching, shadowing, and generally looking pretty and fuzzy. She doesn’t want to do much more than follow us around, be available, and watch for squirrels. Our resolution is to continue keeping the squirrels alive, and to take them to the beach more often (the one thing she loves, that perks her up).

She does love the beach!

Tig would want the resolution to be this simple. She doesn’t want to do an activity, I have discovered… after trying many types of activities with her. She would rather lounge in the sun and watch butterflies than do agility (which she found to be a piece of cake but kind of stupid), why would any dog chase a white plastic bag (lure course), and it makes much more sense to watch flyball while having treats given to you by the kids than actually jump over things. She will continue to attend our Flyball meet-ups, which helps her get used to people milling about, and stuffing those treats in her mouth.

Comfortable in the middle of a practice.

She still has a way to go – so becoming even more comfortable around strangers is our goal for 2014. More flyball practices, more dog-friendly restaurant visits. But maybe barnhunt next year, too…

What will you do with your dog?

There are so many fun things you can do with your dog that help enrich their lives – from simple journeys to the beach, a park, a hike, or an urban adventure. Or there are sports: flyball, agility, lure course, disc dog, barn hunt, dock diving, sprint. Will you start something new? Have a goal for something you have already learnt?

Or is your resolution to help your dog get more comfortable in life by rehabilitating a behavior issue? To make more dog friends? To travel somewhere fun? Lose some weight or improve a diet?

Let us know in the comments!

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.