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Pets Can Help You Keep Your Resolutions

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A new year brings resolutions, and we need all the help we can get, right? Look no further than your furry friend. Cats and dogs, especially, are always ready to help you stick to your good intentions.

dog exercisingImprove your health

Nearly everyone has a resolution that sounds like one of these: Lose weight. Get in shape. Work out more. Exercise every day.

A dog is one of the best excuses in the world to get out of the house. She’ll always accept your invitation to go for a walk, so get moving!

Outside your home you’ll find plenty of opportunities to exercise — walking counts. Give your routine a boost by walking uphill or a faster than usual. If your dog is of the sporting variety, she’ll be happy to run with you too, or trot alongside you while you ride your bicycle. Added bonus: Your dog will be healthy and happy, too.

Reduce stress

We know pets lower your blood pressure and are good for cardiovascular health. Having a pet is healthy for your mind, too. You’ve probably noticed that you feel better when you’re with your pet.

Now, that doesn’t exactly apply if you don’t take the time to care for the pet in your life. Running out the door in the morning and evening for quick potty breaks won’t take care of your tension—and it won’t make your pet very happy, either. Take the time to be with your pet and build a relationship—then you’ll really start to feel your pet’s stress-reduction powers. Spending quality time helps create a bond that will leave you feeling a little calmer.

If you really need to relax, take some tips from our feline friends. Cats take frequent breaks and nap when necessary — and we could all use a little more of those.

Cats have also mastered the art of using stretching to relieve stress. Cats never seem to let muscle tension build up for very long, fitting in yoga-like stretches whenever they feel the need. (Take note: just because they can bend their spines that way doesn’t mean we can, unfortunately.)

Eat more healthfully

Looking for a diet coach? Cats are the ideal partners to encourage better, healthier eating — they’re some of the most particular eaters you’ll ever meet.

Cats carefully consider their food, and eat at a reasonable pace. The way many of us cram meals into our busy schedules, we humans could learn a thing or 2 from the way cats eat.

Of course, this is one resolution with which most dogs won’t be helpful. They aren’t very choosy — many dogs will eat anything put in front of them. And if you’ve ever seen a dog eat, well, you know that’s not the pace at which you want to enjoy your meals this new year.

cat stretchingGive back by volunteering

If you’re interested in volunteering, many animal welfare groups provide ideal opportunities.

Check with your local animal shelter about volunteering to walk dogs. Especially if you don’t have a dog of your own, shelter dogs offer a highly rewarding walking experience. Simply showing up at their kennel with a leash sparks such gratitude and joy!

Are you more of a cat person? Your volunteer hours would be welcome at a shelter or a rescue group, where you could spend time with cats. They would love the human interaction, and the shelter staff might ask for your insight about the cats’ personalities as you get to know some of the residents.

Learn something new

Expanding your horizons is a great way to start a new year. Why not let your pet help you? Their enthusiasm for learning new things can be a great incentive.

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn to do something new with your dog. Seek out a flyball or agility training group in your area. You might also check out local groups who go walking or hiking with their dogs.

To broaden your skills and knowledge about pets, see if a local college or humane society has a class you can audit about animal behavior. Of course, try your neighborhood library. You’ll find plenty of books about pet behavior that will teach you something new.

No matter where you learn about pet behavior, you’ll be able to put your new know-how to work in a variety of situations — with your own pet, with pets you meet and even in volunteer work.

Make new friends

If this is on your list of resolutions, we’ve already uncovered some great ways to meet new people. Pet lovers make excellent friends, and you know you have something positive and important in common right from the start.

Every person who is with their pet is already with their best friend, so chances are they’re relaxed. It’s easy to start chatting and even bonding with new people when pets are involved. People start telling stories and the next thing you know, you’ve been standing around talking about your pets for an hour.

If you’re a dog parent with a backyard, you might suggest a dog-friendly gathering at your house. Cat people might prefer a low-key coffee chat after pet-supply shopping nearby.

Any pet will help you laugh more, smile more, enjoy life more if you just pay attention.

How will your pet help you stick to your resolutions? Share your tips in the comments.

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