Can you believe it’s 2016? I know I can’t! But ready or not, here we are at the start of a whole new year. And you know what that means, right?
Don’t worry. I’m not talking about resolutions. After all, resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep. In fact, only eight percent of people who make resolutions actually achieve them. Talk about an uphill battle!
No…I recommend that this year, instead of making resolutions, you come up with a few fun things you can do to live healthier and happier with your pet in 2016. See? That’s not so hard. And of course, you don’t have to do all the things you come up with, but having a few ideas will give you something to shoot for.
Not sure where to start? Here, I’ll help:
We could all use more snuggle time with our pets, right? Not only is it fun, science proves that there are actual mental and physical benefits to petting your pooch or cuddling your kitty. It lowers stress, improves heart health and elevates one’s mood, among other good things. So try to designate a few minutes each day as “cuddle time.” You and your pet will be glad you did!
Try Something New
Routines are great and we all need them; they add necessary stability and predictability to our lives. But occasionally, it’s good to shake things up by trying something new and different. And there’s no reason you can’t include your pet! It could be something as simple as going to a brand new park, or something more challenging like learning a new trick. Branching out is not only fun, it builds confidence and gives you a new appreciation for yourself, your pet and the world you live in.
No, I’m not suggesting that you and your pet hit the therapist’s couch. But if your pet is exceptionally calm and good with other people and pets, you might think about getting him certified as a therapy dog or cat. (Yes, there is such a thing as a therapy cat!) By visiting nursing homes, hospitals, and homeless shelters, you and your furry buddy could bring much-needed love and comfort to those in need. To learn more, conduct an Internet search for therapy dog or cat programs in your area.
Paw It Forward
Not every pet or person is cut out for therapy work. But you can both give back in other equally awesome ways. If you’re like me, you purchase more things for your pet than you do for yourself. So go through your stash of old leashes, collars, coats, beds, blankets and toys, and pick out whatever your pet is no longer using. If they’re still in good condition, give them a good washing and then donate them to your local animal shelter or rescue.
Remember how much fun it was to play when you were a kid? It stretched your imagination, helped you explore your creativity and let you see so many possibilities. Then somewhere along the way to adulthood, we stop making time to play. However, studies have found it’s just as important for grown-ups as it is for children. Luckily, those of us with pets have a built-in playmate. So go ahead! Toss the ball. Pull a toy for your kitty. Play chase. Enjoy a game of hide and seek. Or come up with some games of your own. Just have fun, laugh and spend time with your precious pet!