New Years Goals You Can Make With Your Dog

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe it’s already the time of year when we’re starting to consider the goals we might have for the year to come.

When setting your new year’s resolutions don’t forget to set some for you and your dog! Maybe there are some basic obedience skills you’d like to brush up on. Or perhaps you want to try something new with your dog in the new year? Commit to a regular grooming schedule or get more active? 

Setting a new year’s resolution for you and your dog is a fun way to challenge yourself to spend more quality time together. 

Focus On Your Relationship

When setting new year’s goals, take some time to honestly assess the relationship you have with your dog. Are you and your dog happy together? Are there areas of your life together that are challenging or have some conflict?

Maybe your dog has developed a habit of barking whenever someone walks past your window, and in response, you yell for him to be quiet and then feel guilty for yelling. For the new year, maybe you’ll set a goal of setting up some training sessions to help your dog learn new skills for how to stay calm when something exciting is happening outside.

Each of us has different relationships with our dogs and different rules for behavior in our homes. Don’t let other people’s goals for their dogs influence your training priorities.

For example, if you don’t mind or even like your dog jumping up on you to say hello when you get home that’s ok! You don’t even have to teach your dog not to jump. When it comes to dog training, and training goals for 2023, focus on what matters to you in your relationship with your dog. 

Educational Goals 

two people training a dog

For 2023 consider setting a goal of learning at least one new skill with and for your dog. This could be you learning to become more proficient with clicker training or reading your dog’s body language. Or you could set a goal of teaching your dog new skills.

Your dog is never too young, or too old to learn something new. Dogs thrive on opportunities to stay mentally and physically active.

For the new year experiment with teaching your dog new tricks or consider signing up for a training class. There are a variety of classes you and your dog can take together for everything from refreshing (or learning) basic obedience skills to trying out a new activity like recreational agility, rally, or parkour class.

Don’t have any dog training facilities in your local area, or have a reactive dog whose idea of a good time isn’t being in a group class? That’s ok! One of the benefits of the pandemic is that trainers all over the country (and around the world) are now offering online classes and coaching that you can do from home.

Active Goals

sup with dog

If you’re getting bored with winter hibernation, consider setting a new year’s goal to get outside and be more active with your dog. Consider setting a goal to walk once or twice a day or to go out hiking together regularly.

Talk with your dog’s veterinarian before increasing your dog’s level of physical fitness and discuss if your dog has any activity limitations due to preexisting or age-related conditions such as arthritis.

If you’re setting a goal for getting more active with your dog, be sure to start slow and gently build up to longer and more strenuous exercise. This will help keep exercise enjoyable for both of you and decrease the likelihood of your dog straining a muscle or getting injured by a sudden increase in activity.

The American Kennel Club just launched its new Fit Dog Titling program beginning in January 2023. Through this program dogs (purebred and mixed breed) can earn fitness titles at home with their owners after completing various activities with the goal of creating a sustainable fitness plan for an individual dog.  

Developing Natural Instincts

snuffle ball

Not sure where to start with goal setting for your dog in the new year? Consider prioritizing ways for your dog to utilize their natural instincts.

This style of enrichment is a great way to learn more about your dog, can help to reduce boredom your dog may be experiencing, and help to reduce stress through natural activities like sniffing. In many ways, dogs experience the world through their nose. Giving your dog opportunities to use their sense of smell is highly rewarding, enriching, and relaxing for our dogs.

An easy way to do this at home is to set a goal to feed your dog some or all their meals in a puzzle or in a food-releasing toy. You can also feed your dog their food or treats on a snuffle mat which encourages natural foraging and sniffing behavior. You can also prioritize taking your dog on more engaging sniff walks in the new year. 

Want to take those natural instincts to the next level? Consider training your dog in the sports of scent work or barn hunt. 

Health Goals

dog getting teeth brushed. how to fix bad dog breath

Consider setting some goals or resolutions about your dog’s health, and their health routines. Dog-centered health-related goals for the new year can be to develop a weekly grooming schedule to make sure your dog is looking and feeling its best. Grooming is an excellent opportunity to bond with your dog and give you a chance to regularly examine your dog’s entire body to make sure they don’t have any unexpected sores or growths that should be looked at by your veterinarian. 

Challenge yourself to start brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, or even just schedule that vet appointment you’ve been putting off. 

Happy New Year!

dog new year

Try to set new year’s resolutions that will help you and your dog communicate better with each other or have more fun together. The goals you set don’t have to be elaborate, remember what our dogs love most is spending time with us.

A resolution could be something simple like setting your alarm for a few minutes earlier each morning to make sure you have time to give your dog plenty of playtime before you leave for work. 

Regardless of what new year’s resolutions you set, make sure your goals are sustainable and achievable things you and your dog will enjoy.