Goals Aren’t Just for People The start of a new year can also signal a fresh start for dogs needing a change in their routine. For example, with over 50 percent of pets in the U.S. classified as overweight, there’s no better time for owners to commit to a new food and exercise regimen for their dogs. Need more ideas? Here are ten resolutions to make this year your dog’s healthiest year yet! Measure Your Dog’s Food – Every Time! Many owners “eyeball” their dog’s daily intake and pour that into a bowl, usually resulting in overfeeding and weight gain. It’s important to use an 8-ounce measuring cup to ensure your dog isn’t taking in more calories than they need. The recommended feeding guidelines on the bag are good place to start to figure out how much food Fido really needs. Older dogs and those who have been fixed usually have lower energy needs than young, intact animals. Choose an Age-Appropriate Food Growing dogs have very specific nutrient requirements to ensure their bodies grow healthy and strong. For example, some senior dogs may have lower energy requirements, but have other medical issues like degenerative joint disease that may be helped with the appropriate food. Choosing a food specifically tailored to your dog’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health. Try a New Activity with Your Dog From doga to hiking, skijoring to kayaking, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their dog into a new exercise routine. It’s a great way to bond, it’ll get you both out of the house, and both owner and dog will reap the rewards of a healthy physical activity. Meet-up groups are a great way to find like-minded dog owners to join you in your exercise, too! Power Dog Walks with Intervals Take your dog for a walk on a leash. Throughout the walk, mix in some intervals of jogging, running or high stepping to help increase your heart rate and burn calories for both you and your dog. Dog Tag Just as you did so many times with your friends as a kid, play tag with your dog at your local dog park, in your backyard or even inside your house. You’ll both get a great cardio workout as your dog tries to chase you down. Fetch Races A twist on an old favorite. Grab your dog’s favorite toy and toss it at your local dog park or in your back yard… except this time, race your dog to retrieve it! For owners who don’t have access to a dog park or a backyard, this can be done in the hallway of your home with a soft toy. Fetch Tease for Abs Another twist on classic fetch. Grab your dog’s favorite toy and pretend to toss it as you reach the top of your sit-up. Try to get in as many reps as you can until your dog becomes wise that you still have his toy. This is perfect for your backyard, your local dog park or even inside your home. Dog Squat Tease Stand with your legs spread shoulder width in preparation to do a leg squat. As you descend, tap your dog with his favorite toy. As you rise, lift the toy above your head to encourage your dog to jump after it. This can be done in your home and outside as well. Dogstacle Course Place fitness steps throughout your backyard. Place your dog on leash and swiftly walk through the course. At each step, designate an exercise for yourself such as toe touches, modified push-ups or leg squats to give yourself a solid workout. Your dog will constantly be in motion and will love spending time with you. If you don’t have fitness steps, find common household items to use. For pet owners who don’t have a backyard, this can be done at your local dog park. Dog Stairs Climbing stairs is the perfect way to build up your leg muscles. Place your dog on a leash and walk up and down your stairs. Be sure to mix it up and throw in some high steps and side steps to work various muscle groups. Regular walk Take your dog to the local park or just along the street. Resistance walk Try to walk your dog on different surfaces like sand, shallow water, fallen leaves, snow or on a rough surface. Enhanced walk Use obstacles when you’re out walking like benches, trees, ditches and logs for your dog to jump over, crawl under or balance on. Fetch Throwing a ball or toy is great exercise for your dog, and you can make him work harder by doing it on a hillside or stairs. Don’t throw sticks, though, as they can splinter and cause injury. Hide and Seek Hide a toy or some kibbles and let your dog find it. Swimming or hydrotherapy Ideal for dogs with arthritis or back problems. Ask your veterinarian about hydrotherapy. Obstacle courses Set up low hurdles (use a broom stick across two objects), tunnels (available from pet shops or use cardboard boxes) and a slalom course (objects set one yard apart) to exercise your dog. A little exercise can make a big difference. Not only will it enhance your pet’s health, but it will beef up your relationship as well.We wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year! Thank you to our friends at Hills for this great article.