We’ll shoot it straight…2020 was ruff and the idea of “a fresh start” in 2021 is welcomed with open arms and rays of hope. But, what’s a new year without some resolutions? Why not include your pet pals into the mix this year? Not only will a waggy tailed cheerleader make goal chasing more fun, but you will have a built-in accountability partner to keep you smiling along the way.
First thing’s first: don’t be scared by the statistics! Sure, only about 12% of people keep their new years’ resolutions, but they aren’t focused on goals with their pet! They’re flying solo! You can achieve the ultimate goal of keeping your resolutions this year because you’ve got Fido reminding you of your goals AND because these are entirely attainable! So let’s talk about your 2021 New Years’ Resolutions.
Take a moment to check the dog tags, the microchip info, and any other paperwork or documents you have on your pet. Make sure your contact information is still correct, and everything is up to date.
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.
Emergencies are never fun to think about, but when you have a plan for you and your pet, it can take away a lot of the stress around anything that may pop up unexpectedly. Think about what you would need to take care of your pet if you ever needed to evacuate your home. Could he go to a friend or family member? Are there hotels nearby that accommodate pets so you could bring him with you? Add a pet rescue sticker to your front door or window, so first responders know your furry friend is inside. You can even put together an emergency kit for your pet if you were to lose water or power for several days. You can find more great ideas for being prepared HERE.
Leave the cookie dough in 2020! This year, consider setting up a savings fund for your pet. He may not be Harvard-bound and in need of a college fund, but it’s always good to have some dough saved up for when you need it. $20 a month adds up quick! These savings can help with any emergency/unexpected veterinary expenses, grooming costs, or training fees. You could even use it as a fun money fund for his monthly toy allowance – but only if he does all his chores!
So maybe it’s not spring… it’s winter (at least in the northern hemisphere), but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some spring cleaning done! Take the new year as a chance to go through all of your pet items and assess what is still in good working order and what needs to go. Dig through that toy box and ditch anything that doesn’t get played with anymore. Toss that teddy with a detached arm that you never got around to sewing back on. Wash and/or replace any bedding that is tired and worn. Start the new year with fresh, clean, and organized supplies and toys – you’ll both feel better for it!
I know, I know- it’s the most cliché resolution that ever dared to be resolute. But it really is a good idea! In 2021 resolve to get more active with your pet – be it a dog or cat! If you’ve got a pup, consider finding a new route to take for your walks. Once a month, pick a new place to explore (that’s dog-friendly, of course). It will keep you both on your toes and help keep things from becoming hum-drum and dull. One app you can use for finding nearby trails is the AllTrails app – even the free version will let you know if a trail is dog-friendly! If you’ve got a cat, resolve to play with her more! Set aside a specific time each day to play with her – even (and especially!) if it’s an older cat. Kittens are easy to remember to play with because they’re always begging for it, but older cats need playtime too! So bust out that laser pointer and spend some more quality time with your pet in the new year.
Get your pet to say CHEESE and brush those chompers! Did you know that by age 3, up to 85% of pets have dental disease!? (source:thecitypethospital.com) It may not be something we think about, but preventive care in oral hygiene is a crucial component for a healthy pet. If you can’t brush their teeth for them, be sure to book a visit to the vet for a dental cleaning. Keeping your pet’s mouth and teeth clean and healthy is vital for their overall health and prevents other issues – plus, no one likes dog breath!
Like a lot of us, you might be trying to shed the ‘quarantine fifteen’ and might be taking a closer look at what you are eating on the regular. No judgment; 2020 was a beast. It is an excellent time to do a diet audit for your pet as well. Are you using a random plastic cup to measure your pet’s food? Does he get a whole can of food, or do you spoon out ‘about half?’ Take some time to ensure your pet is getting fed the right amount of food for his age and breed. If you’re not sure exactly how much you should be providing him, what a proper diet looks like, or what a healthy weight is, you can check with your vet. Then be sure to use actual measuring cups during feeding time. An overweight pet can lead to a sick pet, so resolve to audit your pet’s diet this year and strive for optimal health in 2021!
Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks… it may just take a bit longer. It is so much fun to learn new things with your pet, and helps with your resolution for more patience! Think about new tricks, obedience commands, or even signing up for puppy school. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up learning a thing or two yourself!
Maybe a blind date isn’t the best idea… but meeting new people and pets in 2021 can be! Make it a goal to get together with new people in the new year – specifically new people with pets! Socializing doesn’t have to be daunting, and with your pup by your side, it can be downright
enjoyable. Not only can your pet pal make a new friend, but you may find a new friend in their human. How’s that song go? “Make new friends, but keep the old… one is silver and the other’s gold!” I think we can agree that we could all use a little more silver and gold!
You won’t need to install a communication device into the bottom of your shoe for this resolution! Mental stimulation is just as important as physical activity for your pet (and humans too, for that matter!) No one wants to sit around being bored all day. Invest in some fun mental stimulation toys for your pet, like a puzzle feeder, and take time to engage with them. If fluffy already has enough toys, you could take it to the next level and work on new games. You could move from playing a game of fetch to a hide-and-seek game with his favorite toys. If your pet is especially active or athletic, consider agility training- watch out AKC, there’s a new champ in town! BONUS: Often, your pet will leave behind the hyperactivity and destructiveness if they’re exposed to regular mental stimulation.
New Year’s resolutions don’t have to fall by the wayside. We all know we’re much more likely to achieve them with a support system – but no one said it had to be a human! Give some (or all) of these resolutions a whirl with your pet for 2021, and you’ll both benefit!
The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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