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Friday, February 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Family

Paw in the game: Many dog owners include their pet in their resolutions

Happy, an 11-year-old toothless Yorkshire terrier, looks toward a Spokane Humane Society volunteer during Santa Claws at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center on Sunday, Dec. The annual event is sponsored by Washington Basset Rescue. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Happy, an 11-year-old toothless Yorkshire terrier, looks toward a Spokane Humane Society volunteer during Santa Claws at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center on Sunday, Dec. The annual event is sponsored by Washington Basset Rescue. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Doggone those resolutions. Well, actually, you should consider your dogs. A number of Washington state residents have done just that for 2020 resolutions.

In a survey by dog food maker Wild Earth, Washington ranked third in states where canine owners said they made new year’s resolutions for their pets. A popular goal was to help a dog lose weight. Another top resolution will result in human benefits, too – more walks with Fido.

Sheila Gomez, a member of the nonprofit Lilac City Dog Training Club, isn’t surprised to hear that people are including a pooch around new habits this season. She said the Spokane facility that offers canine training had a higher number of calls for its January obedience classes.

“It’s typical with people who want to start exercising, and they’ll oftentimes get a puppy at Christmas and want to start walking with it, because the animal will encourage them to do more and get outside,” Gomez said.

“And we hear from people who want to take their dogs out more.”

She has three dogs, a 13-year-old Labrador named Gunner, a 18-month-old Labrador-Belgian Malinois, Zula, and Zeev, a 2-month-old puppy of that same mix.

“Spokane has always been a dog-friendly place, but there are more activities for them,” Gomez said. “We have the High Bridge dog park now, and there’s one in the Valley.”

Another Spokane pet owner, Charles Kyd, said he didn’t exactly make resolutions for his dog, but a group he recently formed could help others who did so. The Meetup group is Dogs Need Friends, offering planned outings for dogs and their owners to socialize.

“It happened to be the end of the year by coincidence,” said Kyd about starting the group. Two early meetings didn’t pan out, but interest among potential members had picked up for a Jan. 4 Meetup.

“If anyone has a resolution that includes their dogs, they might be interested in the group,” he said.

Kyd works at home as a writer, but his 5-year-old Chihuahua-Min Pin named Zorro gets bored.

For a Meetup introduction, he wrote, “I walk him and play with him, but he needs more. Also, working at home is great, but it can make meeting people a bit difficult. So let’s socialize our dogs and ourselves at the same time, yeah?”

In a phone interview, Kyd said his dog can get nervous around other canines, so socializing should help. “He’s so nice all the other times, so I feel like he needs more exposure.”

“I work from home and don’t have a whole lot of opportunities to meet people, so that was the other motivation.”

Among dog owners who take their pets to Jeanne’s Doggie Daycare and Pet Motel, a number of them have asked for help in getting dogs to do better when greeting, socializing and exercising in public, said Evelyn Gallas, operations manager.

“A lot of people say that social interactions and the ability to get along with other dogs are important, and then they can take them to dog parks and pet-friendly places,” she said.

Many customers also talk about wanting their dog to be more active while they’re at work, so they use resources such as the day care facilities where they can play with other dogs, Gallas said.

She also agreed with the survey’s high ranking of Washington pet owners regarding their pets’ health. It fits what she witnesses.

“As a whole, Spokane and Washington residents are more health conscious,” she said. People also say they want to travel more in the new year, Gallas added, so they are researching how to leave their dog in a safe environment while they’re gone.

Although he hadn’t thought of it as a resolution, Kyd said another goal he recently set for Zorro is to work more grains back into his diet. Zorro doesn’t have any heart issues, but Kyd has read about federal concerns investigating possible heart health issues for dogs from a grain-free diet.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating potential links between canine heart disease and those grain-free diets. The agency has warned since July 2018 about pet foods that contain a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes in various forms as main ingredients.

Wild Earth said it surveyed more than 1,000 dog owners nationwide. The survey results listed the Top Five states where dog owners said they want their pets to be healthier in 2020: Massachusetts, Nebraska, Washington, Minnesota and New Mexico.

Pet obesity is a concern in the U.S., Wild Earth said. The survey found roughly 41% of the U.S. pet owners responded that their top new year’s resolution for their dogs is to take them on more walks.

A second popular resolution is to feed their dog higher-quality treats and food. Some 65% of dog owners surveyed didn’t think they walk their dogs enough each week.

About 20% of respondents thought their dog is at an unhealthy weight. Also, the survey found 77% of pet owners plan to include dogs in their own fitness-related new year’s resolutions.

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