New year goal planning for your pets

At this time of year, everyone online is talking about goal planning.  You may have set goals or resolutions for yourself and your family, but have you thought about your pets?  

There are several things that you can do to include or consider your pets.

Tips on goal planning for your pets

1. Think of the things that you like to do with your pets.

2. Make a list of the things that your pets like.

3. Block out time in your day or week for this to happen.

4. Make your goals measureable - put a number to what you want to do, for example, the number of times per week you’d like to do something with your pet.

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What new year goals do you have with your dog?

Some ideas for you:

1. Learn new tricks
A majority of dogs have fun learning, and trying new tricks is a great way to spend some quality time with your dog.  Depending on your dog’s level of knowledge, you can work on simpler tasks such as shake a paw or more complex ones requiring several steps, such as sending them to find and retrieve something.  See 5 Way to train your dog to do anything.

2. Exercise
Does your dog get enough exercise?  Many of our dogs don’t get as much as they should, so if this is the case with your furry friend, start making goals to increase their exercise.  Not only is this great for your dog, but you get more exercise as well!  You can start small with a goal of just one additional longer walk a week, or something small to get you started.  However, it’s good to keep in mind what you’d like to be doing by the end of the year - write that down and work towards it.  Remember, you can always do more on weekends or other days that you might have more time.  

3. Go somewhere new and fun
Going to a new location is fun for a majority of dogs, and you get to explore a new area as well.  If your dog is generally fearful, keep this in mind when planning and don’t do anything to make them anxious.

Some ideas for you:
-Search online for some good local hiking grounds
-Make a play date with another dog owner to meet up and allow your dogs to play
-If your dog loves swimming, go to a new location (if weather is appropriate), or see if there are any local dog pools that have a good reputation.

4. Spend quality time together
Spending some quality time together doing the activities listed above, or just hanging out and petting your dog, is great for your relationship.  Do you watch TV at night with your dog in the room?  Consider spending 15 minutes of that time on the floor with your dog (or if you allow them on the couch), and pet your dog or do a quiet activity they enjoy.

5. Give them something to do during the day while you’re away
Many of our dogs spend time in our homes alone while we’re away.  You can provide some activities so that this time doesn’t seem as long for your dog.  Whether they are loose in the house, confined to a certain area, or in a crate, you have different options to keep them entertained.  Using a food stuffed toy can be fun and take quite a bit of time for your dog to eat.  Consider using treats, peanut butter, kibble softened with warm water, wet food, or other combinations and freeze the toy filled with food the night before.  If your dog is loose in your home, you can hide kibble or treats for them to find.

6. Health
If you’ve been avoiding or forgetting to deal with any health issues with your pet, now is the time to do it.  Do you brush your dog’s teeth?  If not, set goals to make sure that you’re at least occasionally doing this task.  Is your dog overdue for an annual physical?  Make the appointment today!  If your dog is fearful of the vet clinic, you can work on that using some tips here.

7. Work on fixing a behaviour problem
Is there a behaviour problem that you’ve been observing that you should be working on?  Set a goal to start to work on that now.  If it’s something small you feel you can tackle on your own, set aside some time each week to make sure you’re working on it. If it’s something that you’re needing some help with, contact a trainer or behaviour consultant (depending on severity), to help you work through it.

 

What new year goals do you have with your cat?

Some ideas for you:

1. Exercise
Many cats that live indoors don’t get enough exercise.  There are several things that you can do in your home to make sure that your cat gets some activity.  You can toss a fun toy and get them to retrieve it, use a feathered toy on a stick to get them pouncing and jumping for a toy, or hide treats (or even kibble if you cat is on a diet) around the house so they have to go find it.

2. Learn new tricks
Your cat can learn tricks too!  Learning new tricks can be fun for both of you, and provide mental stimulation to your cat.  Cats can be clicker trained, can learn to fetch, and learn many other tricks you might dream up.  Set some time aside each week to work on a new trick, you’ll be surprised how quickly they can learn new things!

3. Spend quality time together
Spending some quality time together doing the activities listed above, or just hanging out and petting your cat, is great for your relationship.  Do you watch TV at night?  Consider spending 15 minutes of that time on the floor with your cat (or if you allow them on the couch), and pet your cat or do a quiet activity they enjoy.

4. Give them something to do during the day if you’re away
If your cat is alone during the day, you can provide them with some activities to do while you’re gone.  You can bring the outdoors inside by planting some cat grass, or giving your cat access to a window where they can watch what is going on outside.  Provide scratching posts and rotate toys so they have activities to do.  You can also hide kibble or treats around your home so they have to find them while you’re gone.

5. Health
If you’ve been avoiding or forgetting to deal with any health issues with your pet, now is the time to do it.  Going to the vet can be quite an ordeal with some cats, if you’ve been avoiding that because they are scared, read this article for some tips to help.  Make sure that your cat is having an annual physical to make sure they remain healthy.  Have you been brushing your cat’s teeth?  If not, set goals to make sure that you’re at least occasionally doing this task.

6. Work on fixing a behaviour problem
Is there a behaviour problem that you should be working on?  Set a goal to start to work on that now.  If it’s something small you feel you can tackle on your own, set aside some time in your schedule each week to make sure you’re working on it. If it’s something that you might need help with, contact an animal behaviour consultant to see if they can help you.