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This is going to be the year I become a genuinely good dog. I’ve made New Year’s resolutions before, but I’m going to stick to them this time. My owners deserve a properly behaved Canine Good Citizen. After all, they spoil me with fresh water in the toilet bowl and a soft, queen-sized bed for napping. It’s not fair that I dig holes in the yard and chew the sofa. If they can make resolutions, then I can turn over a new bone too. This year, I hereby resolve to:

Ignore the Mail Carrier

It’s not my fault that pesky mail carrier invades my territory every day. You would think my owners would appreciate my warning barks. After all, every time I bark at the mail carrier, it chases them away. That kind of power is hard to resist!

But I’m supposed to silently accept the intruder. That would be a lot easier if my owners distracted me with a puzzle toy or food-stuffed chew toy. Or they could close the blinds to block my view. Better yet, teach me that being quiet is more rewarding than nuisance barking.

Stop Digging in the Yard

Digging in the yard is as much a part of my personality as tail wagging. So, why do my owners think their grass and garden are more important than following my bliss? Plus, where else am I supposed to hide my bones? If they really want me to stop, they should redirect me with a toy or game every time I try to dig.

And don’t leave me alone in the yard to make my own fun. But my favorite solution is a special digging spot baited with rubber toys and bones. That would limit my digging to only one part of the yard.

Dog looking into a cat litter box with a person standing nearby.
schulzie/Getty Images Plus

Stop Eating Cat Poop From the Litter Box

The litter box is like a buffet table of delicious morsels of cat poop. But for some reason, when I sample the little delicacies, it grosses out my owners. I wish they understood that poop eating, or coprophagia as the vet calls it, is totally normal for dogs. We evolved as scavengers and enjoy eating anything with a strong smell.

For this resolution to stick, I need my owners to block my access to the box, either with baby gates or a covered/top-entry litter box. The cat would appreciate the privacy too.

Stop Begging for Food

My owners can’t resist my puppy-dog eyes when I beg from the table. If I stare at them long enough, a tidbit of their dinner finds its way to my mouth. And that encourages me to beg again at the next meal. If my owners really want me to give up begging, they should feed me first. Or teach me to go to my place while they eat. If they give me something else to do during mealtimes, like eating my meal from a puzzle toy, it will keep me occupied so they can eat in peace.

Chew My Toys Instead of the Furniture

As far as I’m concerned, anything chewable is fair game, even if it’s the sofa. I have sharp teeth for a reason, you know. Unfortunately, my owners want me to learn appropriate chewing habits, which is tricky when all the choices offer the same enjoyment.

It would be easier if they provided options that were more rewarding than the furniture, like food-stuffed chew toys or edible chews such as bully sticks. Then I would get the fun of chewing with the bonus of a treat. That choice is a no-brainer.

German Shorthaired Pointer puppy with a destroyed tennis ball indoors.

Stop Herding the Kids

Since I don’t have access to sheep, I express my instincts by herding the kids. It taps into my predatory heritage, and like all dogs in the Herding Group, controlling the movement of others is one of my strongest skills. But my owners wish I’d find another hobby. If only they understood that moving objects are tough to resist. Teaching me impulse control and the “watch me” and “leave it” cues would help. Or they could let me channel my instincts into a dog sport like Herding, Treibball, or Agility.

Stop Rolling in Smelly Stuff

I want to smell like a dog – the stinkier, the better! That’s why I roll in glorious piles of reeking stuff, like poop or dead animals. And it’s all the better for sneaking up on prey or sharing information about my environment with my pack.

However, even with their second-rate noses, my owners want to keep me smelling like dog shampoo. I’ll do my best to avoid rolling in my favorite cologne this year, but it would help to keep me on leash, practice my recall, and distract me with a fun game or toy before I start to roll.

Stop Chasing Squirrels

There’s nothing I like better than chasing squirrels. Their speed and movement trigger my predatory instincts. Plus, it’s so rewarding when they play with me. But my owners would rather I ignore my furry friends and focus on them instead. I’ll try, but if they taught me to handle distractions it would go a long way. They could also reward me for watching them instead of the environment. We could also find other ways for me to chase like fetch, hide-and-seek, Lure Coursing, or Fast CAT.

Woof! That’s so many resolutions. I’m worried what will happen if I stick to them all. The mail carrier will get too comfortable on our property for one. And what will the squirrels do for fun if I stop playing with them?

I don’t think I can neglect my canine commitments like that. Thank goodness my owners love me enough to accept my doggish ways too. Now, if you don’t mind, I have some litter box hors d’oeuvres to snack on while I ring in the new year.

Related article: How Do I Know If My Dog is Happy?
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