5 Fun New Year Resolutions For You And Your Dog
Hands up if you often make new year resolutions, but rarely keep them?
But new year resolutions don’t have to feel like punishments.
Here at Tug-E-Nuff, we’re all about the magic of play - and the positive benefits that having fun with your dog brings.
That’s why we’ve come up with five fun new year resolutions for you and your dog to enjoy - rather than dread - in 2021.
Keep up the quality time
One of the positives of the lockdowns and working from home stints of 2020 was that most of us got to spend more quality time than ever before with our dogs.
Whether it’s lots of long walks or extra sofa cuddles, one-to-one time with your dog is good for both of you.
Humans and dogs share a primal need for physical touch. It helps your dog feel loved and secure - and it can help you feel happier and calmer.
Research has even shown close contact with a dog can reduce levels of cortisol in humans, the hormone responsible for stress, anxiety and depression.
After the year that’s just passed, if that’s not a good enough reason to keep up the quality time with your dog in 2021, we don’t know what is.
Try a new sport
As life (hopefully) returns to some kind of normality in 2021, those dog owners who already enjoy a sport can look forward to getting back to regular competitions, meetups and group training sessions.
It’s also an exciting opportunity for dog owners who’ve never tried a sport to give it a go. You don’t have to have ambitions of competing at Crufts to join a local team and have some fun, while making new friends and learning some new skills.
Whether you fancy giving flyball a whirl, trying your hand at hoopers or giving canicross a go, now is the perfect time to find out what groups are local to you - and popping your name down for a trial session.
Embrace a playful mindset
At Tug-E-Nuff, we talk a lot about the benefits of playing with your dog. From boosting your bond to reinforcing training, there’s a long list of reasons to make play part of your dog’s everyday life.
To help you level up the rewards of play with your dog in 2021, we recommend fully embracing a playful mindset. When you do play with your dog, be genuinely enthusiastic and give it everything you’ve got - your dog will mirror your energy.
Seek out opportunities to be more playful with your dog, too. Could you squeeze in a game of tug while waiting for the kettle to boil? Could you use food-based toys like The Clam to give your dog their dinner in a more enriching and exciting way than simply filling up their bowl?
It’s all about little changes which add up to make a big difference.
Ease situations your dog finds stressful
Stressed dogs are often highly reactive and unable to settle. Dogs who struggle with stress or nerves might jump at the slightest sound or movement and show visible signs of stress, such as shaking, salivating or having sweaty paws.
If your dog finds certain scenarios or situations stressful, it’s important to be an advocate for them. Don’t be afraid to say ‘not today’. This could be because the dog park is busy, which your dog finds stressful, or because they are struggling with an element of their training. It’s always ok to stop and try again another day.
Recognise the environments your dog thrives and feels safe in and feels safe in. For instance, with noise reactive dogs, it can work really well to use games at home to build up ‘noise optimism’.
Simply fill a cardboard box with noisy materials (like crumpled up paper and empty plastic bottles) and then hide a stuffed Clam or Food Bag at the bottom. Letting your dog sniff out their own reward from the box is a great way to build optimism towards the noises they struggle with - and sniffing is super enriching, too.
We should point out that if your dog finds certain situations extremely stressful, you may require professional help from a qualified behaviourist.
Commit to keeping training positive and playful
If learning a new skill feels like hard work, your dog is unlikely to give it everything they’ve got. Make it fun - whether by rewarding with a game of tug or actively using interactive toys in training - and you’re far more likely to achieve success.
We’re big believers that training should involve play, if possible, and should always be based on positive reinforcement.
This means reinforcing desired behaviours by offering rewarding outcomes (praise, a treat or a play with an interactive training toy).
Scientific studies have shown that dogs trained using positive reinforcement are more obedient, less fearful and less likely to display problem behaviours, like aggression.
So in 2021, make a commitment to yourself and your dog to keep training positive - and to add in an element of play whenever possible.
Happy new year!