Chances are you've made a few New Year's resolutions for yourself, in this or past years. Eat right. Exercise more. Go see a doctor. It's very common to take stock of your life around the holidays; but it's also easy to leave those good intentions behind long before the next new year arrives.
If you think about making resolutions with regard to your pets, you might find:
You're more likely to keep promises you make to your pets than you are to yourself
Your pets might actually help you regulate resolutions you've failed at before
Lose or Maintain Weight
While some of us aren't very good at dieting, we hopefully manage to keep our pets on track. Make a resolution to help your dog or cat lose or maintain a healthy weight in 2018. Every time you shop for low-calorie pet food, make a point of choosing healthy foods for you, too. Measuring a cup of dog food for Fido? Exercise portion control on your plate, just as you do with pet food.
Work Out More Often
If you've got an ambulatory dog (or even an outdoor cat!), it's a great idea for both you and your pet to implement a walking routine. Resolve to get your pet more exercise, and take him or her for regular walks twice a day - after breakfast and after dinner. Your pet will enjoy the chance to relieve his or her bowls, but walking a pet around the neighborhood can have other benefits: meet new neighbors, get some fresh air, avoid watching more TV on the couch, and (yes!) get some exercise for you.
If you develop a dog walking routine, your pet will likely encourage this behavior by making noise or scratching at the door when it's time for a walk. In this way, you are helping each other stick to an exercise regimen.
Schedule a Doctor's Visit
Most of us don't relish the prospect of visiting our physician or dentist...but we likely think nothing of taking our pets to the vet annually and when they need a check-up in between exams. And yet, while we know it's good for them, they often feel anxiety or even fear when taken from home into an unusual space full of strangers.
We humans do understand seeing doctors and dentists is good for our bodies, but we don't necessarily make it a top priority to do so...hence the resolution. Try this: the next time you make a vet appointment, schedule a mammogram, teeth cleaning, colonoscopy, or even just a trip to your primary care physician for a routine examination.
Quit a Bad Habit
The last time you smoked around your pet, did you think about the fact that they too are inhaling carcinogenic cigarette smoke? Or when you drank too much over the weekend...did you make note of the fact that you skipped your previously-resolved-to walk with your dog around the block? If you think about bad habits you want to break in 2018, try re-framing the way you think about said habits. Consider how they affect your dog or cat, in addition to the negative side effects they have on your life. Again, this strategy to center your resolutions around your pets - due to our tendency to keep promises to others, even when we break them to ourselves - might pay off with some of those hard-to-break habits.
Spend More Time With Family
Well, this one is easy: your pet is your family! Just as you benefit from spending time with your dog or cat, he or she enjoys together time, too. If you've got kids or a lonesome spouse, think about doing something with EVERYONE together: including your pet. Snuggle while you watch a family movie, take the whole family on evening dog walks, or take the whole gang to a pet-friendly destination for vacation. Many hotels let you bring your pet. Love the ocean? Take your dog (and kids) to a dog-friendly beach. And it's always nice to visit local parks that offer fun for people and dogs.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Once you start exercising more and eating healthier foods - alongside your pet - you'll probably notice a wonderful drop-off in annoying, distracting, painful levels of stress. You might find yourself walking with a spring in your step or even whistling a happy tune due to your elevated physical wellness. According to WebMD, interacting with your pet "can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine - nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties." Ergo, more time spent with your pet can equal less stress. Resolving to "keep your pet company" instead of simply committing to the ambiguous task of "reducing stress" might help you stick to it.
Take Better Care of Your Pet
Finally, if you're making a resolution to take better care of your dog or cat, consider the way some of these pet care activities will positively impact you:
Microchip your pet - this means he or she is less likely to become permanantly lost or stolen
Give your pet regular heartworm and bug repellent treatments - you can use this monthly cadence to trigger other monthly "to dos" such as paying bills, organizing paperwork, deep cleaning the refrigerator, etc.
Have your pet spayed or neutered - this ensures you won't suddenly find yourself with the burden of caring for or adopting out kittens or puppies
In other words, treating your pets well reflects back on you. Not only will you receive the love and attention you crave from your furry friends, but you can also use pet routines as a method of keeping human routines on track.