As the new year unfolds with a wave of fresh starts and good intentions, what better way to embrace positive change than by creating new habits with our loving four-legged friends? Whether you're a seasoned dog owner or welcoming a new pup into your home, this is your guide to creating a harmonious and joy-filled 2024 for both you and your canine companion. From fresh morning walks in picturesque places to engaging in enriching play sessions, we have pulled together ten habits that are tailored to enhance the well-being of both you and your dog. Hopefully these delightful routines will make the coming year a tail-wagging success from the start!
- Daily walks in different places
Take your dog for your daily walk but try to vary the locations and go on little adventures. Explore different parks, beaches, or nature reserves to keep things interesting for both of you. It need not be far, you could even take a different route through the houses, or reverse a familiar journey, so that sights and smells are varied – you could even discover a new place to visit along the way!
- Mindfulness moments
Walking can be mediativee, as can a variety of other activities, helping the brain and breath settle into a relaxed state of being. Take some time to practise short mindfulness moments with your pup, which could include calm petting, a gentle massage, or just sitting together quietly in a favourite spot. This not only promotes relaxation but also strengthens your bond as you share this reflective time together.
- Canine massage sessions
Following on from a mindful moment, it could be fun to learn some basic canine massage techniques, to help relax your dog's muscles and promote their overall well-being. This can be especially beneficial for older dogs or those with specific health conditions and is enjoyable for you too , by giving love that is much appreciated.
- Interactive playtimes
If you don’t already have a play routine, now is a great time to start one. Dedicate some time regularly for interactive play sessions with games, puzzle feeders or treat-dispensing toys. This mental stimulation can be as tiring as physical exercise and will support your dog’s brain health as well as lift their joy and motivation levels. You could also create an enriching environment by introducing new toys, rotating existing ones, or setting up an area with different textures and surfaces for your dog to explore.
- Arrange regular playdates
This is a great opportunity for your dog to socialise with other well-behaved dogs or attend dog-friendly events in your community. Socialisation is crucial for a well-adjusted and friendly dog, as they get used to interacting with different people and pups, navigating new sounds and senses, and supports your socialisation skills too! Together , you could join a local dog group or meet up with other dog friends for a weekly walk and talk.
- Explore dog-friendly cafés or venues
Another socialisation option is to visit dog-friendly establishments in your area where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal together. It's a great way to socialise your dog in different places and meet new friends too. It also helps pup familiarise with potentially busier environments and supports their behaviour development in practising navigating unpredictable situations and public life.
- Practise some basic training
To support with outdoor adventures and activities, dedicate short periods of time each day to reinforce basic commands such as sit, stay, and come. Positive reinforcement with treats or praise can make this training enjoyable for your dog and provides peace of mind for you knowing your dog’s behaviour will be its best for when you are both out and about. It can also be useful to work on your dog's recall in open spaces, such as fields or parks. Use a long leash initially and the same recall command, gradually allowing more freedom as your dog becomes more reliable in returning to you.
- Establish a grooming routine
Not only does this keep pupyour dog looking their best, it also helps maintain their health and keeps them feeling comfortable. Grooming could be as simple as including brushing your dog's coat, cleaning their ears, and having a regular bath time. Be sure to use dog-friendly products to avoid any skin irritations and use positive praise so that pup responds, knowing this is a good activity to share together.
- Support healthy eating
The festive period can be a time of indulgence for all of us – including pup! January is a popular month in which to clean up food habits, so take a moment to evaluate your dog's diet and ensure they are receiving a balanced and nutritious meal. Consider consulting with a vet to determine the best diet for your dog's breed, age, and health. This will support their overall wellbeing so they can be at their best to enjoy all life has to offer.
- Regular health check-ups
We all want to do our best for our four-legged family members, making sure they are in peak condition and living their best life with us. There is only so much we can monitor at home, so schedule regular veterinary check-ups to monitor their health and catch any potential underlying issues early. It is also essential to keep up with any vaccinations, flea, and tick prevention, so track these on a calendar to keep them topped up.
Consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience are all key when incorporating new habits into your routine. Gradually introduce some of these changes and tailor them to your dog's individual needs and preferences, such as personality, age, and any medical requirements.
As you both start this new year with a positive spring in your steps, may it be filled with plenty of tail-wags, wet-nosed kisses and full of new adventures. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2024!