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Start 2021 on the right paw with these pet-friendly New Year's resolutions

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Recruit your furry companion to help you achieve your New Year's goals!

It's finally time to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and look forward to a new year. If you became a new pet owner recently or you're a longtime member of the paw-rent community, you have a friend who can help you accomplish some of your goals in the new year. Here's how to include your pet in your resolutions.

Exercise

According to a recent YouGov survey, about half of people who make New Year's resolutions include exercise in their new goals. Pets, especially new ones, will almost certainly encourage you to move more throughout the day. Just like you, they also require frequent exercise to stay healthy. Take your dog on nature walks, or map a walking route through your neighborhood that you can use daily. Remember, if you own an athletic or energetic pet, you'll need to find more time for exercise than you would for smaller and lazier animals. If running isn't your jam, your pets won't care. They will enjoy playing fetch, running alongside your bicycle, swimming, or hiking too. You can also take them to dog parks or obedience training classes where they can master obstacle courses.

Learn something new

Tricks aren't just a way to impress your guests. These simple instructions stimulate your pet's brain and give them purpose. Many animals were bred for certain tasks, so they tend to get into trouble when they aren't busy or challenged. Take a few minutes each day to practice your pet's tricks to reinforce those commands.

When your pet is full of treats and napping on the couch, it's your turn to learn. Settle down with a new book, try your hand at some baking recipes, or develop your green thumb in the garden.

Change your diet

Examine your pet's food and ask your vet if this is the best formula for them. Perhaps you've always fed your pet the same food and never looked hard at the ingredients. Animals who eat balanced diets shouldn't need any extra supplements, so now is a good time to check your pet's formula to see if they're getting the nutrients they need. As you analyze your pet's diet, take a look at your own. Are there any bad habits you can cut? Is there a fruit or vegetable you like that you can consistently add to your meals? Are you receiving all the nutrients and vitamins you need? Talk to your doctor about ways you can improve your diet and start 2021 healthy.

Quality time

It's easy to spend all day in front of a screen as you work from home and then transition to free time later in the evening. Take a break from your cell phone and the TV and spend some quality moments with your pets instead. Pets can suffer from loneliness and separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive and adverse behaviors.

Socializing skills

Perhaps one of your resolutions is to get out of your social comfort zone. Pets are very helpful with this because they are natural conversation starters. Include them in your virtual chats, or take them to the dog park and try to make a few new friends. Just remember to wear your mask if you go anywhere in public with your pet. If your pet suffers from social anxiety, you can improve their social skills with animals and humans by gradually introducing them to new experiences. Be patient, and both you and your pet will start to feel more comfortable in social situations.

Don't feel like you have to start all of your resolutions at once just because the calendar now says January. Start with one at a time to build up small successes. Before you know it, you and your furry friend will feel completely refreshed by all the positive changes you've made together.

Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.