Published in the Dec. 21, 2016 – January 3, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Dr. Jeanne Haggert-Arcay
As we bring in the New Year, it’s a time for reflection and change. It’s a time for us to look back on how we spent the past year and decide on how we want to move forward. When it comes to our pets, we sometimes fall into a rut.
The same old food and routine may become cumbersome and sometimes we may not even feel like going out on that walk, even though our dog still seems excited. January is a good time to think of new ways to keep you and your dog excited and enjoy the time you spend together.
If you are athletic and you also have an athletic dog, consider starting an exercise routine with your dog. It will be good for both of you. Remember to start off slowly, exercise during cool parts of the day and avoid exercising after meals. Many dogs make great running partners, although you do have to dedicate some time to leash training if you have not already done so.
If you are not athletic but have an athletic and energetic dog, consider agility. Agility is a discipline where the dog is worked through a series of obstacles. It can be done recreationally or competitively. We have some good local trainers who host classes and the sport is not limited to any specific breed or dog size.
Sometimes changing the route of your walk can make things more interesting. It gives both of you new things to look at, varies the distance and just makes things a little more interesting. Vary the speed during your walks to help keep your dog focused and engaged.
Stop periodically to practice sit, lay down and stay. This helps maintain the training they were taught as puppies and reminds them that they still need to listen while sightseeing.
If you have a very calm and well-mannered dog, consider obtaining a certification for pet therapy. The benefits of pet therapy for people with numerous conditions has been well documented.
A properly certified animal can provide therapy in assisted living facilities, for people in hospice, in some children’s hospitals and for people with various mental disorders to name a few. Keep in mind that the certification includes vaccines, de-worming and a behavioral assessment by a veterinarian. It is a process to obtain proper certification but can be very rewarding.
If none of these appeal to you, just take your pet out for some extra car rides. Most dogs love riding in the car and it gets them out of the house. Be sure to be mindful of where you are headed so you are not stuck in a predicament of what to do with the dog when you needs to run into a store, etc. Be sure you do not leave your pet in the car on even a mildly warm day.
Spending some extra quality time with your dog is good for you dog and is also good for you. Think about how you spent the last year together and maybe it warrants a change.
Dr. Jeanne Haggerty-Arcay received her undergraduate degrees in biology, biochemistry and Spanish from the College of Notre Dame, Belmont. She graduated from U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children.
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