new-year-resolutionsDoes your Morkie make New Year’s resolutions? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them for both of you:)

So what do you resolve for 2016?

Here’s my list.

1. More walks 

You’ll both be healthier with more frequent walks. Dogs thrive on routine, so a standard time every day works well.

Dog expert Cesar Millan says that walking your dog is one of the best ways to bond with him, and to teach him that you are the master or alpha dog of the pack.  It’s also the best way to control unwanted behavior.  

A tired dog is a good dog.

I’ve found this consistently; my dogs are calm, quiet and more fun when they’ve had good walks.

How many walks and how long?  You’ll both benefit from two 20 minute walks a day, morning and evening, or one 40 minute walk once a day.

2. Get your Morkie’s nails cut every 6 weeks without fail

cut nailsUnless your dogs are walking on concrete they’ll need their nails cut every 6 weeks or so. Their high protein diet keeps their nails growing quite fast. 

As soon as you can hear your dog’s nails on the floor, it’s time for a trim.

If nails aren’t cut often enough, both the quick and the nail gets too long and cannot be cut back to the right length all at once, since the quick will bleed profusely. 

Since I hate cutting dogs’ nails I tend to avoid it. I admitted long ago it’s less stress for me to take the dogs out to a local groomer and get it done (PetSmart is great, no appointment needed and quite reasonable).

3. Learn more about vaccines so I can make a considered opinion

How come people don’t need an annual ‘booster’ shot against disease, but dogs and cats do? When you think about vaccines, remember that:

  • a vaccine is usually a diluted form of the disease it’s “fighting”
  • all dogs – no matter their size – get the same amount of vaccine. Imagine what that means for small dogs!
  • annual vaccinations are a major assault on the immune system  
  • the more vaccines that are combined into one shot, the higher the chances of a severe, adverse reaction

Vaccinations, driven by big pharma profits, can cause more problems than they’re meant to cure. Some are not necessary and others are given too often, according to critics of the system.  It’s worthwhile to read up more on the two points of view about vaccinations and come to your own decision. 

4. Secure my dog while we’re in the car

It’s not a pretty picture. 

Carolyn GuthrieGÇÄ - This is Sophie my Morkie.If a window breaks or a door flies open in a car accident, your terrified dog will escape and run into traffic, only to be run over or be the cause another accident.   

Even in a minor collision, an unrestrained dog can be thrown into the dashboard or the windshield. Like any other projectile, the dog will fly forward at a  tremendous speed.  (In an auto accident a 60 pound dog in a car traveling 30 mph will hit an object ten inches in front of him at 1,200 pounds per square inch.)

And a small dog held on your lap in the front seat will almost certainly be killed by the air bag deployment. Sorry to be graphic but it’s something to think about. 

So what’s the best way to restrain your dog while you’re driving? 

The safest place for dogs is in the back seat – properly restrained:

  • keep the dog in a crate, that itself is safely attached to the seat belt system
  • a proper-fitting harness that holds the dog in via a strap attached to the seat belt mechanism
  • one of the new booster seats for small dogs, with built-in seat belt or  harness restraint
  • Barriers for the back of SUVs – hold the dog away from the passenger area but don’t do much to protect the dog, who could still get out the back door in the case of an accident

Your Morkie will likely object quite a bit at first, but in this case, safety comes first.  

(And the dog’s head out the window, although a romantic image is dangerous too – think of flying stones, insects and cigarettes thrown from the vehicle ahead of you to name just a few hazards)

5. Explore holistic veterinarian care

Cute dog looking away sitting isolated on white background

Holistic or alternative health care is becoming popular for ourselves and our animals. Basically there are two kinds of veterinary services:  

  • allopathic – (“regular” vets) based on drugs, medications and chemicals and 
  • holistic – which focuses on the whole dog and emphasizing building a strong immune system that resists disease.  

Holistic is wellness from within. That wellness is built with medicinal herbs, nutritional supplements, common sense supportive care and more.  Holistic vets will use drugs, medications and chemicals but only when no other route will work.

Since holistic veterinarians are also “regular” vets, the holistic route can mean more choice in your animal’s care. 

6. Attend a local fun-meet dog show

You can find local fun-meets for your Morkie through several sources —

  • rescue associations, humane society and animal shelters – who often stage these as fundraisers
  • watch for notices on bulletin boards at your veterinarian’s, local pet food stores and groomer’s
  • check your local newspaper

These fun meets are a good way to socialize your dog more.  And you get to talk to other dog lovers like you.

7. Teach my Morkie a good trick

Mental stimulation is important for your dog. What better way to get his mind working than by learning a fun new trick. 

You can search online for “easy dog tricks” (don’t forget Youtube), pick up a training book or buy an online course on dog tricks. 

8.  Fewer treats

puppy tink pink bed licking chopsJust like us humans, dogs are suffering from a major outbreak in obesity. An overweight dog has the same problems we do: extra pressure on joints, bones and ligaments. More serious illnesses such as potential heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.  And a seriously heavy Morkie will likely live a shortened life.

Did you know that the popular treat, “Bonz” for small and medium dogs is 70 calories each!  Milk Bone biscuits for small breeds are 40 calories each.  

As a general rule of thumb, a very small dog (5 lbs.) requires about 400 calories a day, so these treats can really add up. 

9.  Bone up on discipline training

A whack on the head with a rolled up newspaper is so over.  Dog training today is based on positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Positive means something is added to the dog’s routine to change his behavior. Negative, something is taken away from the dog’s environment to change his behavior. 

An example of positive reinforcement: your dog does something you tell him, like “sit.”  He immediately gets praise and/or a treat from you.  The reward needs to be immediate and you need to be consistent until the behavior is really embedded.

An example of negative reinforcement: your dog is barking furiously.  You say “no” in a firm voice, but the barking continues. Remove the dog from your presence; I do this by putting my dog in the garage for a “time out.”  Since my presence and attention is what the dog was striving for with all the racket, this works very well in curtailing the bad behavior.  Negative reinforcement is never hitting the dog, coercing or shaming him. Those old school tactics simply turn your dog against you and break his spirit. Not to mention they’re inhumane and callous.

10.  Relax…. Stop and smell the roses… and the trees.. and the bushes… 

maltese relaxing on an afghanThe thing I love most about dogs is how they live in the minute. No matter what a dog is doing, he’s giving it 100%, and it’s right here, right now, in the moment. 

Dogs also tend to live with unbounded enthusiasm and joy… qualities we could all use more of too.

Happy New Year!