“I Resolve to Be a Better Pet Parent!”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

So you want to be a better pet parent this new year. That’s an outstanding goal. Your pet will be proud!

Anyone who has made any kind of resolution — New Year’s or otherwise — knows that the quickest way to fail is to start out with a vague plan. Try making these 5 key resolutions. We’ve included some tips to set you up for success.

1. Identify your pet

One of the best ways in which you can be a better pet parent is making sure your pet wears the proper identification. This is the easiest way for her to find her woman and dogway home if she gets lost. Someone who finds her — even a block away — can call you so you can pick her up safely.

Visible identification — a collar with current tags — gives your cat or dog a chance to come home fast when she wanders off and is found by a caring stranger with a phone. It’s easy to keep a collar on your pet and she’ll get used to wearing it no time.

Microchipping is vital. Having a microchip is ideal when someone takes your pet to a facility where she can be scanned. Collars get lost, tags can be taken off, but a microchip is a surefire way to identify your pet. Remember, though, that it’s up to you to keep the chip’s registration current — don’t forget to update it if you move or change your phone number.

Using both methods is the best way to ensure your cat or dog comes home. Don’t let your pet go naked — get him an ID tag and a microchip.

2. Keep up with vet appointments

Every pet should visit her veterinarian at least once a year, even if nothing is wrong. This includes pets who don’t go outdoors, like your indoor cat. Preventative care is important.

If your pet is 6 years of age or older, or if she has ongoing health concerns, your pet probably needs more frequent checkups. Your veterinarian can explain the best schedule for each pet.

Try to book your next appointment before you leave your vet’s office — that way you won’t have to remember to call later to schedule. (That’s where many of us fall down on our own health appointment scheduling, right?)

Dogs often go outside among other dogs and require protective vaccinations. You can use those requirements to help you stay on schedule with vet appointments. You might even get vaccination reminders when your dog’s license is up for renewal.

girl with catMany cat parents forget the importance of protective vaccinations, especially if your cat doesn’t go outdoors. Some cats even put up a fight getting into a carrier, which is a common reason people avoid taking their cat to the vet. You can make it easier (on yourself and on your cat) by leaving the carrier out for a couple of days before the appointment, keeping the gate propped open so she can enter and exit as she pleases. Stow your old t-shirt or pillowcase in it, feed your cat in it and let the carrier become a normal part of your lives.

It will take a bit of scheduling and planning, but the work is easier when you remember that it’s in your pet’s best interest. It’s worth the effort once a year if it helps keep her healthy and with you longer.

3. Provide more and regular exercise

Exercise is vital to your pet’s physical and mental health. It works off their energy, which will help you head off the behavioral problems that frustrate you. It also will keep your pet in tip-top shape.

What does your pet like to do? This will tell you what kind of physical and mental exercise is best for the 2 of you.

For a dog, chasing stuff is the best way to get exercise if you have an enclosed area, like a yard. Going for a walk opens your dog’s world instead of just using the walk as a potty break.

Cats and dogs can benefit from indoor chasing games that help work out pent-up energy. Games like this provide bonding opportunities with your cat or dog too. They’re also a good way to handle inclement weather, when you can’t spend much time outside for a day or 2.

4. Spend more time with your pet

It’s easy to make this resolution vague, so consider what you’ll do while you “spend more time.” This depends on the pet and what she likes to do.

Especially if you’re living with a terrier, herding dog or other active breed type, book time every day to provide mental exercise as well as physical. With all dogs, you’ll at least want to go outside for a run or to play together.

For cats or for mellow or older dogs, lap time and reading a book sounds best. All you’ll need to do is sit still and make your lap comfy. This also works for “lap-adjacent” cats who want to be near you but not on you — plenty of cats are loving pets who don’t like to be held but still want to hang out with you.

Still other cats and dogs like indoor interactive playtime. Try a game that uses mental and physical energy, like hide-and-seek with toys or kibble.

5. Improve your training skills

Setting your sights too high is a recipe for failure, so set a reasonable goal. Remember, this is about both of you, not just for your pet.

dog trainingTry refreshing your pet’s manners. Set aside time to practice your dog’s basic obedience every day and be consistent about cat rules too. Reinforce if needed, and then stick to the rules. You and everyone in the house must be consistent because it’s fair to your pet and it’s most effective.

Another option: Add one command a month. Learning new commands is fun, but it’s also practical. It builds on previous knowledge, so you and your pet make progress and grow together. It will keep you refreshed on the basics, too.

If you’re considering a training class, you’re making a commitment. A class can help you build a strong relationship with your dog. Keep your expectations realistic — learning any new skill takes time, especially if you’re trying to improve your dog’s behavior. Even if you’ve had dogs previously and you’ve trained them well, having a professional trainer guide you through the basics sets you and your new dog up for success.

Whether your pet is a dog or cat, she’ll present you with plenty of opportunities to be a better pet parent. Sticking to your resolution can be fun when you do it together!



Please spay & neuter your pets! Pets that are fixed are less likely to get certain diseases, less likely to run away, or be stolen, less aggressive, & it just makes them better pets.
Best of all, it reduces the number of unwanted pets already in need of a home!

Osama Williams

I am a long time PetSmart customer and I have never been disappointed ! I just got boots shipped for free to my home for my Daisy and the staff is ALWAYS so kind, patient and they know the products! They are GREAT! My Daisy is a celebrity at the Monroe Store. We are in there 2-4 times a week and she is always greeted and loved on it is so heartwarming. Daisy is a Staffordshire Pit Bull Terrier so we are letting people know that they are BEAUTIFUL DOGS with wonderful personalities and give SO MUCH LOVE!!!!! I am an Ambassador for the breed and I thank God for the opportunity to do so to show people that they are not what the media has portrayed. The people behind the conditioning of those dogs are the one who should be Prosecuted!! But I thank God for PetSmart and their staff!!!


Sharon is absolutely right, spay and neuter your pets! There are lots of low cost resources available and if you can't afford it there are even free resources in some cases. Also, if you move and just can't take your pet, don't leave it there please. Take it to a shelter even if they say they expect you to pay to do so, they won't turn the animal down if you can't afford it. So many animals, especially cats are running around homeless because they have been left behind and are desperately looking for their families. Don't leave them to search for food and shelter.

Linda Russell

I have a 6 week old puppy, that just can't the idea of potty training. She would rather soil my house instead of going outside. I'm at my last resort, can anyone HELP! Linda


Hi Linda, I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble training your puppy. Have you tried reaching out to your local animal welfare organizations for advice? If it helps, you can search for our animal welfare partners in your area. 

Tanya Brown

I'm a dog mommy to 2 beautiful little girls. One is a mini dachshund, and the other id a mix. I already subscribe to those tips on being a pet parent


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