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New Year’s resolution for your dog

New Year’s resolution for your dog

Another year has come and gone. With the holidays in the rear view mirror, now’s the time we hit the reset button and plan on improving our lives in 2015. A quick Google search shows that a list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions looks a little something like this:

  1. Lose weight and get more fit
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Learn something new
  4. Eat healthier
  5. Save money and get out of debt
  6. Spend more time with the family
  7. Travel more
  8. Be less stressed
  9. Volunteer more
  10. Drink less

All of these goals are fine and good. But if you’re a dog owner, I have another suggestion: Exercise with your pooch. Every. Single. Day.

For starters, odds are Fido probably needs it as much as you do. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, a whopping 52.6% of dogs in America are overweight or obese (compared to 34.9% of American adults). Want to hear something even scarier? Obesity can significantly reduce your dog’s lifespan. You can even make the argument that obesity is deadlier for dogs than a lifetime of smoking is to humans. Let that sink in for a second.

Canine obesity isn’t just an epidemic; it’s an embarrassment for all dog owners. Our pups provide us with unconditional love, and in return, we turn them into couch potatoes. All of us – myself included – have been guilty of putting work, other responsibilities, even reality TV shows above the health and wellness of our pets. And that’s not fair. Even if your dog isn’t overweight, exercise and mental stimulation can go a long way toward preventing behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, excessive barking, digging, aggression, and much more.

By now, hopefully you’re motivated to get your pup moving. But how? At the very least, a daily half-hour walk around the neighborhood is a good place to start (and a much better use of your time than watching another episode of the Kardashians). But there’s a whole wide world of canine activities waiting for you. In fact, Wikipedia has a list of about 50 dog-related sports. Obviously, I’m a little biased toward running, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Off the top of my head, here’s a quick list of activities you can find around Buffalo, NY:

• Hiking at one of our many city, county, or state parks

• Playing fetch or chase at one of WNY’s seven (7!!!) off-leash dog parks

• Dog agility classes

• Swimming or dock jumping

• Flyball (if you’ve never heard of the sport, YouTube it)

Go back and look at that list of New Year’s resolutions again. How much do you want to bet that by establishing a good exercise routine with your dog, you’ll simultaneously accomplish three or four of those personal goals? Say, for example, you enroll your dog in agility classes. Not only would it be improving the health of your pet, but you could: 1) Improve your own fitness while handling, 2) Learn something new, 3) Spend more time with your family, and most likely 4) Be less stressed. And if you want to get really wild, you could even 5) Travel to agility competitions. Pretty awesome, right?

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but we all have limited time to spend spoiling our canine kids with love. Thankfully, there’s a simple way that you can bring them more enjoyment and even extend their lives. Why go to the gym when your best (and furriest) workout partner is waiting for you at home? Resolve to make this the year of exercising with your pup.