Updated: Jan 1, 2019
Today is the final day of 2018, and oh what a year it's been. In 2018, I:
- Graduated from the Academy for Dog Trainers
- Moved 700 miles away from home
- Started my dog training business
I have had so much to be grateful for in the past 365 days. But now I'm setting my sights on the new year. Since I'm a sucker for traditions, I'm doing my own version of Chinese New Year. I know it's not technically until spring, but why not acknowledge the new year in some fun, unique ways?
For "Chinese New Year," I cleaned my apartment top to bottom, bought red and yellow flowers (symbolizing happiness and prosperity) and will spend tomorrow doing what I want to do more of in the coming months (hiking!).
But what the heck does all this have to do with dogs? Besides the obvious fact that deep cleaning my apartment produced copious amounts of hidden dog hair. And let's not forget that 2018 was year of the dog!
First of all, I am a lover of resolutions. What would the new year be without resolutions? I know, I know. Resolutions have a bad reputation. We never really commit to them and once we miss a day or two it's all over. But what if you included your dog in the fun? I may not be so great at keeping my own exercise routine in order, but I'm much more likely to keep at it if the health and happiness of my dog is involved!
This is why the majority of my 2019 resolutions focus on not only my physical fitness, but on my dog's as well.
In 2019, I plan to keep working toward my cani-cross goals. I hope to be able to run 10 kilometers with Portia. Cani-cross is a super fun way to get fit with your dog. If you're like me and have a reactive dog rendering you unable to compete in dog-friendly running events, do not despair! If you're not the competitive type, you can forego races altogether. However, if a little competition does seem like fun to you, go ahead and train with your pooch, just remember that they'll have to cheer from the sidelines (or the couch) on race day.
My other fitness related goal for the year is simply to hike as much as possible. Being in a different state has given me a lot of great new hiking opportunities. That means more time outside with my best friend! What's not to love?
Why is all of this fitness stuff on my mind anyway? Since beginning work at a local vet clinic, I have come to realize just how lucky I am that Portia is in such great shape for her 9 years. She runs with ease and by no means acts like a senior dog. I have, sadly, witnessed other dogs who have not aged so gracefully. It is all the more incentive to further prioritize her physical health by being active. On the advice of our veterinarian, Portia went on a diet and was able to lose 14 pounds earlier this year. I strive to keep that weight off, as excess weight is difficult on joints and can impact mobility, particularly as a dog ages.
My final dog-related resolution is centered on Portia's mental health - mostly in relation to our vet visits. We have already made such progress! Our veterinary clinic is now a happy place for Portia, and my goal is to continue to build on that association. We'll keep doing our weekly "happy visits" (they're simple: go to the vet, eat treats, go home!) and working on our husbandry behaviors. This week I was reminded of how important these foundation behaviors are. Portia had to have ear drops for 10 days due to an infection. Administering the drops would have been nearly impossible had we not been practicing!
In a roundabout way, our husbandry work is good for my own mental health as well, because training is just so darn fun! I can't describe how cool it is to watch a dog's progress happen before your eyes. It's especially fulfilling when you're able to help a dog move past fear and toward comfort.
Get some of that fulfillment for yourself and try positive reinforcement based training in the new year. Even something simple like tricks are a fun and easy way to start! Plus, watching our dogs enjoy themselves is reinforcing for us, meaning we're more likely to repeat the behavior of training!
Our dogs may not know it's a new year, but hanging up a new calendar is a great reminder for us all to work toward our goals and include our four legged friends in the process.
Happy New Year, everyone! Though Practical Pup hasn't been in existence for much of 2018, it's been such fun. We thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you in 2019!