By Jodi Hartley

The New Year is here, and many of us have made New Year’s Resolutions to help improve our lives. Have you made any resolutions for your dog? Now is a great time to make Fido’s life better too. Here are 12 resolutions to make 2016 a great year for your furry friend…and several may help you keep your resolutions too!

1. Get an identification tag or check over current tag – make sure Fido has ID tag for his collar. The tag should have current contact information. Check over older tags to make sure the information is up-to-date and readable.

2. Microchip – an ID tag is important but it can fall off or be damaged. Microchippping is another way to get your dog back if he gets lost. Make sure to register the chip with the microchip company, and if your dog is already microchipped, check to make sure your information is registered and updated. Some microchip companies require a yearly subscription.

3. Get a new collar and leash – collars and leashes can wear out and eventually break. Take a look at Fido’s, and if they are worn, it’s time to replace them.

4. Take Fido to the vet for yearly check up and updated vaccinations – make sure to visit the vet at least yearly to have your dog examined and vaccinations updated. Also be sure your dog is on heartworm preventative.

5. Train your dog – whether a puppy or a senior, all dogs and their owners benefit from training. It’s also important to continue training throughout Fido’s life as it reinforces what they’ve learned and keeps them mentally stimulated.

6. Evaluate your dog’s diet – learn about dog food ingredients and make changes to Fido’s food whether it be to upgrade to an all-natural diet or go grain free.

7. Book grooming and lodging appointments – your dog wants to look and feel his best, and you want him to have the best care when you’re away. Booking his grooming and lodging appointments for the year is a great way to ensure both.

8. Try something new with your dog – just like many of us, dogs like to try new things. Try a new activity with your dog such as agility, an obedience or socialization class or enroll him in doggie day camp.

9. Start an exercise plan with your dog – exercise is so important for Fido so resolve to take more leashed walks with your dog or enroll him in doggie day camp to burn off some energy.

10. Incorporate good dental hygiene – poor dental hygiene is as harmful to dogs as it is to humans. Ideally Fido’s teeth should be brushed daily, but even weekly brushing is beneficial (and makes for better doggie kisses!).

11. Look into pet insurance or start an emergency savings plan for your dog – nearly all dogs will have a medical emergency or high cost treatment at some point in their lives. Having pet insurance or an emergency fund specifically for pet expenses can make medical decisions easier.

12. Clean out old, worn toys and bring in new toys – dog toys get worn out, full of germs and maybe even a little boring. So unless Fido is especially attached to a specific toy, toss the old ones and get some fresh, new ones.