It’s officially 2018, which — according to the Chinese zodiac — is the year of the dog. Unlike the Western zodiac signs that are based on month and day of birth, the Chinese zodiac goes by your year of birth.
Those born in 2018 and other dog sign years are lucky because dogs are pretty great. People born in dog years are said to have traits similar to dogs in that they are loyal, honest, sincere, and sometimes stubborn.
In celebration of the year of the dog, make this year a special one for you and your pup. Spend this year making time to get them outside, take some trips with them, meet the neighborhood, make them some treats, and give back to other dogs in need.
Spend More Time Outside
Some dogs definitely have more energy than others, but most dogs would really benefit with more time spent outside. Not only does more time outside ensure more exercise, but dogs are naturally inquisitive creatures. Getting out and smelling new smells is the dog version of sight-seeing. It’s exciting to smell who’s been in your neighborhood, what other neighborhoods smell like, and even the same old smells they are used to. This year, take more time to be outside with your pup. There are a ton of enrichment items to help your dog enjoy the outdoors from vests to keep them cool to windows for their fence. Whether it’s throwing a ball, taking them for a walk, or sitting with them in the grass, they will appreciate the time spent outside.
Take More Trips
Vacations are a great way to relax, get away, or have an adventure. Many dogs will benefit from a vacation in the same way. When planning your trips over the year, consider which trips are dog-friendly and think about taking your pup along for the ride. Whether you’re designing your vacation around your dog or just taking them on an already planned vacation, know that a trip could be really helpful to their overall happiness. New places mean new smells, more chances for new experiences, and excitement they won't get walking around the block. When considering lodging, look into all of your options. Airbnb is becoming a popular option among many travelers and can offer a home that’s a little more pet-friendly than the average hotel. Bring some toys to keep them busy and remind them of home and make sure they are chipped — just in case.
Meet the Neighborhood
Spend this year doing one of the things that dogs do best: exploring. Your neighborhood is full of places, people, and dogs that you probably haven't been able to meet yet. One great way to meet new people in a new area is to visit a dog park and have your dog break the ice. Even if you’re not new to your area, there are probably people who are. Spend more time at your area dog park, take time to go to places in your area you and your dog have never been, and introduce your pup to new experiences and smells that revolve around meeting their neighbors and the smells of the neighborhood.
Make them Treats
It’s so easy to just head to the store and buy treats for your pup, but it might be a fun adventure to try something new this year. The great thing about making your own treats for your dog is that you know exactly what is in them and can combat some health issues by catering them to their needs, like pumpkin for a sensitive tummy, or a cold treat for the warmer months. You can make pumpkin squash oat treats, coconut cream cookies, or carrot fig cakes, among the countless other recipes you can find. Though many dogs don't discriminate when it comes to treats, I think we can all agree a fresh, homemade snack is always better than the alternative.
The year of the dog doesn’t have to just be spent making it special for your own dog. You can also spend this year giving back to other dogs in need. There are a ton of ways to do this and your way of giving back can be a representation of your connection to the world of dogs that you are passionate about. You can collect blankets in your neighborhood to donate to your local animal shelter, grab an extra can of dog food to donate while grocery shopping, or virtually adopt a sniffer dog that helps stop illegal wildlife trade. Maybe you’d be interested in donating your time walking dogs, donating money to a rescue that specializes in a breed close to your heart, donate an adoption fee, foster, or make a vow to adopt instead of shopping for any future fuzzy family members. Whichever you choose will be a great way to give back and help dogs in need.
The year 2018 will be a great year celebrating an animal so pure that mankind probably doesn’t even deserve it. Dogs, in general, are curious, silly, and lovable. Each person who owns a dog knows that their dog is special, and everyone is right. So, to celebrate how amazing our dogs are, spend the year treating them. Spend more time allowing them to explore outside, consider taking them on a trip, let them meet their neighborhood, make them some homemade treats, and give back to other dogs in need. Any of those things will help make 2018 the best year for your dog.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about animal rights, bad television, and white wine. She is a volunteer at Simply Cats in Boise.