New Year's resolutions for your dog

What about playing with him more? What about better training?

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  • | 7:15 a.m. December 23, 2015
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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I’m not much for making New Year’s resolutions; I figure I should be working on myself all year long instead of just once a year. But then I started thinking about my dog Yankee and wondering if I should make some resolutions that include him. What about playing with him more? What about better training? So with that thought in mind, here are just a few ideas if you’re looking for resolutions for you and your dog.

Resolve to give your dog a healthier diet if possible. Many people aren’t aware of the ingredients in their dog’s food. Become familiar with the list of ingredients, educate yourself on what is a species-appropriate diet, and then decide what you will feed based on your new knowledge. Poor nutrition can affect your pet’s skin, coat, muscle tone, and potentially cause a myriad of health problems.

Spend more time with your dog. Dogs want to be around us. For example, take him with you when you run errands, when you’re window shopping, at an outdoor restaurant, or going to the farmers market. Whenever you’re going to be outside is a perfect opportunity to take your dog along.

Give him more exercise. Take him for longer walks or walks more often. This will not only help his health but yours as well.

Engage his mind. Teach him new tricks, work on his training, or involve him in new activities that stimulate his mind. It helps to keep him young and vibrant.

Help your dog lose weight if he needs to. Look at diet options, food changes and exercise choices to make sure he loses the weight. Being overweight is very detrimental to your dog’s longevity, so if you love him as I know you do, get tough and get the weight off.

At a minimum, get an annual health check-up from your veterinarian. These check-ups help you be proactive in your pet’s health care, and can identify potential diseases in their early stages, preventing needless suffering for both you and your beloved friend.

Last but not least, give your dog lots of love and attention. This may seem obvious, but because of our busy lifestyles, our pets often are neglected. Take time to focus individual attention on each of the animals in your life and nourish that special relationship. You will be richly rewarded many times over!

I know I can work on several of these ideas for Yankee, and as one who doesn’t make resolutions, I will do my best to try to keep the resolutions I make about him. What about you?

Best wishes for a happy New Year for you and your dog!

Sherri Cappabianca, an expert in the field of canine health and fitness, is the author of two books on canine health, and co-owner of Rocky’s Retreat, an intimate and personal boarding, daycare, hydrotherapy and fitness center, and Barking Dog Fitness, a Gym for Dogs, both located in Orlando. For more information, visit or