Ideas to inspire you while planning your New Year.

January 3, 2018

It’s 2018!! Did you make your New Year’s Resolutions?

Chloe and I hope NOT. We hope you’re making New Year’s Plans instead.

We all know that the typical New Year’s Resolutions offered up by many well-intentioned people rarely last longer than a few weeks. And even when we follow the experts’ advice on goal-setting and follow-through, goals are only the beginning. In order to get where you (and your dog) want to go, you need to have a plan.

Ruffwear Ambassador Mallory Paige wrote an inspiring blog post entitled Life is Short, Live in Dog Years. If you’ve come to the end of 2017 and wistfully looked back, wishing you had hiked that mountain, taken that agility class or just hung out more with your faithful companion, then now is the time to put those wishes into action.

It starts with setting goals and then making a plan.

Goal setting is the first step; writing down those goals is imperative. They help you focus your intentions and the simple act of writing solidifies your intent to paper and ink.

But what goals should you and your dog aspire to?

New Year’s plans for you and your best pal should include some of all of the following:

  • *Accomplishing Goals
  • *Having Fun
  • *Challenging Yourself

If you’ve always dreamed of taking your dog on a vacation adventure and you book the trip, then you get a great sense of accomplishment when you get back home. You actually did what you said you wanted to do. It’s a great feeling to check a dream off your bucket list.

Having fun is just a given. In fact, this is probably the only goal your dog has on their list…besides being with you (and that’s fun!) Having fun together strengthens the bond between the two of you. Plus everyone needs to do things that are just plain relaxing and have no purpose except that they feel good.

Challenging yourself and your dog may be the hardest of all. Because let’s face it – it’s not easy to get outside your comfort zone. But challenges, especially for dogs, are crucial for their overall physical and mental health.

(And hey – fun plays a factor in all of the above!)

You might want to consider breaking down your goals into categories, such as:

Things to Do

Start with pen and paper or a calendar and jot down some of the local dog-friendly activities scheduled throughout the year.

Nashville Paw Magazine and Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Nashville are great resources. Don’t forget to scour your Facebook feed, local publications like Nashville Scene and even Nashville Parent Magazine, which often lists pet friendly events. Pencil these events in your planner; set reminders and you’ll be ready when the date arrives.

Places to Go

Hiking, beaches, vacation spots, dog-friendly patios, parks? Where does your four-legged friend like to go with you? Where have you always wanted to go but haven’t yet? Some great planning ideas can be found at Go Pet Friendly and Bring Fido. Start by researching your chosen location, determine your budget if necessary, and most importantly – get it on the calendar! And if it requires a reservation, make some inquiries, talk to friends who have been (try TripAdvisor) and get it booked.

If you’ve also got a place to go that is for humans only (like a big family vacation coming up) now is the time to make plans for your dog while you’re gone. Boarding? Home care? Staying with family? Making reservations ahead of time, ensuring your pet has all the required vaccinations/titers will be a big relief as your vacation approaches. The more you schedule now, the easier it will be when the time comes to depart.

Training

All dogs can benefit from training and learning new things. Group/private classes with a trainer can be a good way to achieve your goals. Have you always wanted to put a title on your dog, or challenge yourselves as a team working together? Check out classes offered locally by Nashville Dog Training ClubMurfreesboro Obedience Training ClubDogs and Kat Dog Training.

You might just want to help your dog work through some issues, such as jumping on people or being reactive on leash. A good trainer can help you achieve these types of goals, too. Call for a class schedule and register.

And guess what? – Even if your schedule with work, family and obligations is super-tight… and going to classes seems near impossible, you can easily train with your dog at home. Online classes are a perfect way to train around your schedule. You can even earn a Trick Dog Certificate online if your dog likes performing. Because you won’t have a specific day and time you are obligated to leave the house, you’ll need to be super-diligent and block out time during your day. Get out that planner and write it down. (There’s probably an app for that!)

Lastly, no New Year’s Plans are complete without considering ways to give back. Volunteering your time, talent or resources is such a lovely way to stay in the moment and appreciate your best friend. Some volunteer opportunities need to be done solo, such as walking shelter dogs, volunteering your time at rescues, etc But some can be done with your faithful companion by your side. Safe Haven’s Hike for the Homeless and many other fun runs allow your dog to attend. Special events like Unleashed: Dinner With Your Dog also include invites for your dog and a way to donate to local charities.

So spend some quiet time these early weeks of the new year…dreaming…planning…writing down your ideas… And then get busy with researching…budgeting…scheduling…connecting with others and set your plans in motion. By the end of 2018, you’ll be amazed at all the things you and your dog have done together and how much fun you’ve had along the way.

Check!

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