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New Year's Resolutions for Pet Owners

Q: What are some new years' resolutions I can tackle with my pet? Are there any resolutions I should make for my dog/cat this year?

A: Happiness

- why not? Dogs and cats have a secret they’ve been trying to share with us for eons—enjoy the moment.  Next time your cats is curled up in a sun spot, go join him for a second.  When you come in the door and your dog is smiling ear to ear at you, remember to put your cell phone down and smile right back at her.  The devil may be in the details, but happiness is in these moments.

It’s OK to lose it. What human AND pet do you know that doesn’t need to lose a couple of those holiday pounds?  Walk to the dog park, walk in the park and walk just a little longer along the beach with your pup. If you or your dog is arthritic look into water therapy. Moderate exercise not only helps to control weight but it just feels good (will help you achieve resolution 1).

Be Pawsitive. Animals have so much to teach us about being better humans and being better to each other. Positive reinforcement —it’s the only way you can successfully train your cat or dog. And, the lesson we learn here is that positive reinforcement is a great way to approach human relationships as well. What we sometimes forget is that our dogs are not mind readers and they don’t speak our language. Sometimes, it is the same case with people. If you find yourself yelling at your dog, using a prong collar or otherwise finding you and your dog’s communication at an impasse, sign up for a group class. They’re fun, educational and really useful.

Work Your Karma. Let’s start a movement in response to, well…movements. Carry 4 poop bags on every walk. One for expected, one for the unexpected, one for the person who wasn’t expecting and one for the Karma Pick Up. KPU will leave your spirit and your street in a more pure state than when you began.

More Kneading. It’s ok to knead and need. Cats do it unabashedly. So do dogs. You can too—go ahead! Take a cue from our four-leggeds who have no qualms about letting down their guard for a belly rub. Purr, knead and show your belly to those you love.

Bury it. Like an old rawhide or bone, put those stinking bygones in the ground once and for all. Grudges are so 2011.

Dream more. Be like you dog or cat and try sleeping a little more.  More sleep=more time to dream big.

Happy new year from all of us at the San Francisco SPCA!