This past January, we hosted a 31-day challenge to a happier, healthier dog on our Fitdog Sports Instagram. The result was an easy-to-follow guide on simple, healthy habits and activities that enrich your dog’s life.
Here’s the complete run-down of our 31-day challenge. Try it for yourself at home, and let us know what positive changes you notice!
Day 1: Change Your Walking Route
Always take your dog on the same walk? Do they know exactly where to turn and where to stop? Spice things up today! Even just taking your normal route backward can give them a little variety.
Day 2: Weigh Your Dog
Weighing your dog gives you a gauge of how much they weigh, and if necessary, how many lbs they should ideally lose. Never put your dog on a diet plan without first consulting a veterinarian. Use this chart to get an idea of what stage your dog might be in.
There is no shame around having an overweight dog, but the better physical shape they’re in, the more likely they are to live longer, happier, and more energetic lives.
Day 3: Measure your dog’s food
Remember when you used to measure your dog’s food, but then you got so good at eyeballing it that a measuring device was no longer necessary? Check the daily food measurement for your dog’s ideal weight and give them that much food. You’ll be surprised at how much food they’re supposed to have each day.
Day 4: Update your contact information
Cross-check all of your contact information for your dog’s needs. Here’s a quick list of places to make sure your information is up-to-date:
- veterinarian’s office
- doggy daycare
- microchip (If you don’t already have your dog microchipped, it is an easy procedure that nearly every vet can perform. It’s worth it in case your dog ever gets lost because it includes a GPS to track their location. Having updated information is crucial to the function of the microchip)
- Tags / Registration (Some cities, including Santa Monica, require dogs to be registered. Avoid a ticket and make sure your registration is up-to-date!)
Day 5: Go to the dog park
Head out to the dog park for some socialization and bonding time! Bring a toy or two and keep your phone put away– your dog will never be happier.
Day 6: Sign up for a new training class
Novelty is not just for humans; dogs like new stuff too. Sign your dog up for a Cardio Tricks or agility class. If you don’t have time to bring your dog, sign up with Fitdog, and we’ll pick up your dog.
Day 7: Brush your dog every day
Whether your dog has a long or short coat, brushing helps to spread natural oils and is soothing for your pup. It also helps with circulation and prevents matting.
Day 8: Play with your dog after work
Most of us get home from work and just want to crash. But your dog is soooo excited to see you, so give them 15 to 20 minutes of play time before you settle in. Play tug of war, indoor or outdoor fetch, or games. ⠀
Day 9: Communicate about who’s feeding the dog
Our houses can get busy and sometimes family members can inadvertently double, triple feed their dog. It’s important to communicate how much and when your dog eats. This will definitely cut down on your pup’s waistline and make it easier for them to enjoy fun activities, like playing fetch at the beach!
Day 10: Make sure your dog is up-to-date on flea & tick treatment
Having an active dog increases exposure to fleas and ticks. Talk to your vet about your best treatment options. Whether it’s topical, pill or injection, make sure your dog is protected. ⠀
Day 11: Learn more about your dog’s breed
This can help you gain an understanding of your dog: their drive, needs, capabilities, and medical predispositions. Maybe you learn your water dog was bred to fish generations ago, and that’s why they love the pool.
Day 12: Exercise together
You have to exercise your dog anyway, so you might as well ramp it up so it benefits both of you. Skip your regular neighborhood walks and go hiking, running or biking instead. Dogs make the best exercise partners.⠀
Day 13: Give your dog a puzzle toy
Puzzle toys challenge dogs mentally to solve puzzles and get to the hidden treats. By using their nose and trying to figure out the puzzle, your dog will be occupied and happy. If you don’t have a puzzle toy, you can easily make one with simple household items!
Day 14: Register your dog with the city
It cost money and might be a pain, but it will keep your dog safe if they ever got lost, and you will avoid being fined at the dog park. ⠀
Day 15: Clean your dog’s teeth
Dental hygiene is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. Brush your dog’s teeth, or have them cleaned at one of Fitdog’s monthly in-house dental clinics with Smile Specialists.
Day 16: Play brain games
Did you know that 15 minutes of mental stimulation is equal to a 3-mile walk? Plus learning new things such as games, tricks or obstacles keeps dogs engaged and happy.
Day 17: Let your dog run around!
Dogs love a good run. Take them to a safe, enclosed place (like a dog park) and let them run around and be carefree.
Day 18: Create a grooming routine (and stick to it)
By now, you should have been brushing your dog out every day for almost two weeks. Do you notice a difference? Grooming is the cornerstone of pet health. Bring your dog in for a full spa day and create a routine with your groomer. ⠀
Day 19: Teach your dog a new trick
Tricks keep your dog’s mind sharp and will improve your bond.
Day 20: No more table scraps
Stop feeding your dog at the dinner table! All of those scraps add up. We know. It’s hard. If you can’t resist, substitute veggies like carrots or green beans.
Day 21: Walk your dog before bed
Many of us take our dog out for a quick potty break and call it good. Taking a walk instead gives your dog added exercise and stimulation and also helps you wind down for the evening.
Day 22: Improve training with high-value treats⠀
Dogs are smart. Kibble or dried biscuits may not be worth it to them. Make it worth it by introducing high value treats like doggy meatballs or plain chicken.
Day 23: Hang out with your dog all day
Plan a day for you and your dog to check out a new trail or dog-friendly happy hour. Check out this guide to dog-friendly dates in LA for a day full of fun!
Day 24: Re-evaluate your dog’s diet
If you’ve been sticking to that measurement from Day 3, you should see some difference in your dog. Or perhaps, you don’t and it’s time to consider changing their diet.
The type of food your dog needs changes as they age. Take Brecken here, as an active dog, he was on a grain-free, high protein, high fat. But at 10 years old, he couldn’t process the fat anymore and was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Now he eats a low fat, raw food brick with grains, and his energy level doubled. ⠀
During your dog’s annual vet exam, ask your vet how much fat, protein, and grains your dog should be getting for their age as well as activity level. By re-evaluating your dog’s diet, they will feel better and live longer.
Day 25: Incorporate 5-10 minutes of training every day
Training doesn’t have to be complicated or tedious. Adding 5 to 10 minutes of training a day can be as simple as having your dog sit and stay before they eat dinner or practicing a trick that they already know.⠀
Day 26: Make homemade dog treats
Many dog treat recipes use simple ingredients that you already have in the kitchen. Homemade treats are healthier because you know they don’t come with artificial dyes and ingredients. Plus, they are made with love.
Day 27: Wash your dog’s bed
Let’s be straight. Dogs are dirty. Sand from the beach, dirty tennis balls, wet paws – you name it, ends up soiling your dog’s bed. Washing your dog’s things more frequently makes them more comfortable, and your house smells fresher. ⠀
Day 28: Make a vet appointment for your dog
Preventative care is just as important for pets as it is for you. Plus dogs (as well as cats) like to hide pain and discomfort so it’s best to have them checked out annually to make sure their health is in good order.⠀
Day 29: Never underestimate your dog
Old dogs can definitely learn new tricks. Many owners doubt whether or not their dog can learn agility or advanced tricks. But there is no limit to what your dog is capable of. Check out Bindi flying through the course.⠀
Day 30: Mix up your dog’s schedule
Does your dog get the same 30-minute walk every day? Switch it up. Hire a dog hiker, sign up for a beach day, or mix in daycare a few days a week. Whatever it takes to give your dog a new and exciting routine.
Day 31: Make a collage of all your progress!
We hope you have been documenting each day as a marker in your progress towards a happier, healthier dog. Make a photo or video collage of all your progress so far as your motivation to keep going. Does your dog seem happier or healthier from this 31-day challenge? Write to us for your chance to be featured!