Incorporating Pets into Popular New Year’s Resolutions

Making an annual list of New Year’s resolutions is a tradition as old as New Year’s itself. Unsurprisingly, shirking the responsibilities of a New Year’s resolution is just as venerable – and popular. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that just six months into the year, fewer than half – around 46 percent – of resolvers were keeping to their January pledge. Though that’s a better track record for those who don’t make resolutions, it’s still abysmal.

Luckily, there is hope for those of us who want to stick to these promises. If you have a furry friend, incorporating them into your resolution is a great strategy for fulfilling your goal. In some cases, such as resolving to exercise more, the application is obvious. In others, it may take a bit of creativity. Below, we have listed the five most popular New Year’s resolutions alongside strategic ways to bring Fido or Fluffy into the fold.

Eat Heathier

According to a YouGov poll, more than a third (37 percent) of Americans resolved to eat healthier in the new year. The good news? Bringing Fido and Fluffy into this resolution is easier than you think. While eating more produce and fewer processed foods are easy strategies for getting healthier, portion control and meal management are just as important. If your pet eats on a schedule, try eating your meals at the same time. This will force you to think more about meal prep, keep you on a regiment, and curb mindless snacking. Plus, you might forge a stronger relationship with your furry friend in the process.

Exercise More

As with the resolution to eat healthier, 37 percent of Americans resolved to exercise more in the new year. Bringing Fido into this personal promise is easy, and you don’t need an expensive membership to a fancy gym to do it. Start by spending more time walking your pup outside. Wake up a bit earlier and head out for a 2-3-mile walk before work. If that’s not feasible, try for an afternoon or evening jaunt. As you gain cardiovascular strength (and you will, even from just walking), start bringing Fido out for runs instead of walks. In just a few weeks, you and your furry friend will be in better shape, sleeping better, and you’ll likely have a closer relationship than you do now. All it takes is a few minutes every day!

Save Money

Another popular New Year’s resolution, around 36 percent of Americans resolved to save money in the coming calendar year. While saving requires a lot of personal motivation, it also requires some creativity. Where in your weekly spending can you afford to cut down? If it’s the expensive gym membership, opt for long runs with Fido on nice days. If it’s emergency spending, invest in pet insurance, which will almost always pay off in the long run. Need to cut some money out of your grocery spending? Figure out which foods are safe for Fido and Fluffy to eat and make nutritious meals for them out of your own scraps.

Focus on Self-Care

As the world gets faster and more intense, many of us are struggling to find time for ourselves. This can be especially true for pet owners, who often spend their free time caring for Fido and Fluffy. Unsurprisingly, almost a quarter (24 percent) of all Americans resolved to spend more time focusing on self-care. The easiest way to better incorporate self-care into your life is to combine the practice with actual responsibilities, like taking care of your pets. Is your self-care practice most effective when you’re outside? Bring Fido along for a potty break or buy your cat a walking harness. Does self-care mean more socialization? Find a dog-friendly bar or coffee shop in your neighborhood and bring your pet along. The possibilities are endless.

Make New Friends

A relative newcomer to the popular New Year’s resolutions list, more than 15 percent of Americans resolved to make new friends in 2019. This is unsurprising; as work-life balances tip out of control and more interactions move to the Internet, people are beginning to feel isolated. Luckily, if you have a pet, you have a built-in ice breaker. Dog parks are some of the best places for impromptu social interaction. Go out of your way to say hi to fellow dog parents at the park – you may be surprised by how easily conversation comes. If you live in a dog-friendly area, dog-friendly bars are also great for breaking the ice and making new friends.

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January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day

This date is an odd choice for National Pet Travel Safety Day. More and more people are traveling with their pets during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the holiday travel season is already over for the most part, to say nothing of the lurking dangers with Halloween pet costumes. Late spring and early summer, meanwhile, is another peak for pet travel, as moving season creates the need for one-time, potentially long-distance pet travel. In wintertime, people are more focused on hunkering down with a warm cup of something and managing their work commute in the snow. Most of us are content to let our pets greet us back home.

Still, there’s never a bad time to emphasize pet travel safety, and winter offers its own unique travel challenges especially if you’re going to be on the road for any significant length of time and live in an area prone to snowstorms. When an accident is only a single patch of black ice away, it’s especially important to think about using best practices when driving with a pet. Don’t let them sit in your lap. Use a safety harness. For truck beds, think about putting your pet in a secured kennel or at least a tether that’s long enough to let your pet lay down but short enough to prevent tangling/choking.

Airline and Airport Pet Travel Safety Awareness

Pet travel on planes really depends on the size of the animal. So long as you have a heated car trip to the airport, there’s not much difference for smaller pets that are allowed to fly in the cabin of the plane with their owners. Larger pets that need to travel in the cargo hold may have to deal with weather delays for the sake of safety. While the cargo hold of a plane is temperature-controlled, this occurs in flight. While on the ground and waiting for takeoff, pets will have to deal with outdoor temperatures and thus most airlines prohibit some animals from cargo travel in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and all animals in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold-weather pets need to have an acclimation certificate from a vet to travel in temperatures below 45 degrees.

Whether traveling by plane, train, car, or foot, you want to be mindful of your surroundings and the signals your pet uses to communicate danger and/or distress. No mode of transportation is ever 100% safe, but by not taking your pet’s safety for granted, you can further minimize the chances that your and your pet will get hurt. And to those people who have enjoyed an extended holiday break with family and are now planning to travel back home, we can help with your airline and airport travel plans, as well as carriers and other travel supplies for your new pet.

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Finding the Best Pet for Your Family

Photo Credit: Pexels

Article by Jessica Brody

A Google search for “finding the right pet” yields over 8 million results in 0.52 seconds. We’ve boiled it down to a few key considerations when you’re ready to adopt a scaled, finned, or four-footed critter.

  • Pick a pet that fits your lifestyle.
  • Decide what you want from a pet and how much time you can devote.
  • Evaluate how much you can budget for monthly and annual pet care.
  • Determine if your housing arrangement allows pets.
  • Consider an animal’s lifespan. Some live much longer (or shorter) than others.
  • Assess your space. Some dogs require lots of room to run.

Preparing your home

As adoption day nears, set up your home to provide a safe, welcoming environment. Before the big day, you should do a few things, depending on the type of animal you’re bringing home.

Think about how you’ll transport your pet home. Use a kennel or box for cats and smaller dogs; large dogs could use a dog seat belt. Carry smaller animals such as rodents or reptiles in a container, too. Some people find the perfect pet online and have the animal shipped from another state.

Establish the new pet rules with everyone before the pet comes home. Determine who’s responsible for cleaning litter boxes, feeding, bedding changes, playtime, grooming and exercise. Decide whether the new dog (or cat) may sleep on the bed or hang out on the furniture.

Get supplies. You’ll need food and water bowls, food, toys and possibly a bed, litter box, leash/harness, collar, ID tags and more. Here are suggestions for cat supplies and dog needs. If you’re getting a dog, investing in an electric dog door (permanent or temporary) might prove useful, as it gives your new pooch a way to safely and securely move in and out of the house while you’re away. You’ll need tools and pet-friendly cleaning supplies as well because pets often shed and leave messes in their wake. Search online for the best type of vacuum for your space and lifestyle. Some vacuums work better on pet hair, with bagged models being particularly beneficial for those who suffer from allergies.

Bonding with your new pet

Regardless of your new family member’s species, it takes time to bond with your pet. While it might be love at first sight, cultivating that animal-human bond often can take a little time and patience. To help ease the transition, try these suggestions.

Give your new family member time to adjust. As adopted critters begin to feel loved and safe and gradually adapt to the home’s rhythms, routines, and expectations, you’ll see their personalities emerge.

Conduct canine due diligence. Introduce your home’s routine from day one. Don’t assume that a previous owner socialized your dog. Dogs thrive on routine, and when they know what’s expected of them, they’ll adjust faster. Enroll your new puppy in obedience training, which offers a myriad of benefits including facilitating the bond between both of you.

Cats benefit from socialization, too. If you hope to have a friendly, social cat, create an environment that makes him feel safe, which may include giving him a spot where he can be alone. A cat’s natural inclination is to hide, so just play along. Talk to him, play with him, get down on his level, but don’t overwhelm him with attention.

Be patient! All critters need time to adjust to their surroundings and new family. If it’s possible to take time off from work to help facilitate the transition, do so. The more time you can spend with your new family member to teach her the routines and give love and attention, the quicker you’ll bond.

As author Bruce Cameron says, “When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.”

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Beyond the Plane: Other Pet Travel Tips for the Holiday Season

Photo by DaPuglet

Along with people, more pets will travel during the holiday season than any other time of year. This year, it may be especially important to leave a little extra time to navigate through the airport. While TSA will continue to operate during the government shutdown, TSA agents may be a little less accommodating than usual since they’ll be working without getting a paycheck until the shutdown is over. Even still, the pet travel policies and procedures aren’t really substantively different during the holidays. It’s just a little busier than usual.

More than flying with a pet, however, the holidays also bring their own season-specific challenges for pet travel. Thus, we wanted to offer some pet travel tips for the holiday season.

Pets in Other People’s Home

Other family members may have pets of their own. And while you and the family member may swear that each pet is a sweetheart and loves other animals, there’s no way to know for sure how two unfamiliar pets will react to one another. Yes, chances are everything will be fine, and the two animals may be best friends by the end of the holiday, but it’s still a good idea to have a backup plan to separate the animals in a worst-case scenario.

Pets at Holiday Parties

Certain holiday decorations can be a red flag. Christmas trees and candles that can be tipped over. Light strings with cords that can be chewed through. Tinsel and other decorations that can mimic food. More to this point, one of the most common things at holiday parties is sweets and chocolate. Even many random food items—onions, grapes, turkey skin—can be mildly toxic or deadly dangerous for dogs. Also, pets can simply get overstressed. Shortly after being introduced to a new environment, a crush of people come over filling this new environment and overwhelming the pet with stimulus.

Schedule a Visit with the Vet

If your pet is sick, things that wouldn’t ordinarily stress your pet out may do so and cause them to act in unusual, potentially aggressive ways. Moreover, when pets (and cats especially) are first showing signs of illness, they may attempt to hide their distress from you. In this early stage, a vet may be able to detect these subtle signs even when pet owners can’t. They may catch a problem just in time before you make a big mistake by traveling with a sick pet. They may also be able to recommend pet meds for less serious conditions that will, nevertheless, help with the demands of traveling.

Leaving Pets at Home

Finally, not everybody takes the beloved pets with them when traveling for the holidays. Whether it’s a self-reliant cat or whether you have a dog-sitter, leaving pets at home is understandably one of the most common solutions for pets during the holidays. As much as they may miss you and you may miss them, it’s often the best, least stressful option.

That said, there are certain things you’re going to want to look at around the house before leaving town. Is the trash can secure? Is there a waterproof sheet lining you can put over the mattress? As with other people’s homes, do you have your own holiday decorations that are troublesome to leave unattended for extended periods of time? Are there toys that will help keep your pet entertained while you’re gone, especially ones that emit light, noise, or movement?

Preparing for holiday travel is chaotic. And yet, once you get to the airport and to your destination, one of the first things you’re going to start worrying about is your pets. Ideally, we recommend going around and looking at the house through the lens of trying to temporarily pet-proof your home. This way, you’ll have fewer messes for your pet-sitter or for yourself when you get home.

No matter how, where, or with whom you’re traveling, Dogs on Planes would like to wish you safe travels and a happy holiday!

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How to Approach Other People’s Pets in Airports

Just because you don’t have your own pet in tow at the airport doesn’t make you any less of an animal-lover. When you see an adorable little face poke its head out from a soft-sided carrier, it’s natural to want to pet and squeeze the little thing until it pops. It’s called a cute aggression, and it’s something you want to be mindful of…especially in public places and especially at the airport.

Technically, it’s airport policy that pets stay in their carriers at all times, except when going through airport security or visiting a pet relief area. But this rule doesn’t apply to service animals, and it’s not like pets who are sitting calmly and quietly on their owner’s laps are a top concern for airport security. The letter of the law and the spirit of the law are two different things, so that it’s a fairly common sight to see animals outside of their carriers at the airport.

So, again, how do you manage cute aggressions and avoid accidentally overstepping your bounds and causing a scene? The best thing is to know the policies and why they exist. Service animals and emotional support animals may be trained to only respond to commands given by their owner. Approaching these animals in a sudden or seemingly aggressive manner may confuse the animal and/or set it on edge. At the very least, it may distract the animal from performing its other trained duties. At the same time, service animals are typically trained to be friendly with other people—once given the okay signal from their owners.

 

Tips for Approaching Other People’s Pets

There’s one simple rule to follow above all others. Identify the animal’s owner and talk to them first. Rather than launch right into asking if it’s okay to pet the animal, strike up a general conversation first. “Your dog is so cute, what’s its name, is it a pet or service animal, what kind of dog is it, how old is it?” This is good advice in general for approaching other people’s pets, but like we said earlier, it’s especially important in a highly regulated public place like the airport. Often, you can pass some of the time waiting in the airport by getting to know a new animal friend and a new person.

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Best U.S. Airports for Pet Travel: What Makes an Airport Pet-Friendly?

As part of their travel advice, Upgraded Points recently issued their ranking for the most pet-friendly airports in the U.S. Along with the rankings itself, the study was interesting for the method and criteria it used to evaluate the airports: 5 points awarded for indoor pet relief areas, 4.5 points for outdoor relief areas and other amenities, and half a point for boarding facilities and pet care programs. So, we wanted to present the Upgraded Points rankings, but we also wanted to explore what these rankings and their criteria can teach us about making the experience of flying with a pet easier.

 

The Most Pet-Friendly Airports in the U.S.

1. John F. Kennedy International Airport: 10 points
2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 9.5 points
3. Sky Harbor International Airport: 9 points
4. Los Angeles International Airport: 8.5 points
5. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport: 8.25 points
6. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: 7.75 points
7. Reno-Tahoe International Airport: 7.5 points
8. Dallas Love Field Airport: 7.25 points
9. Denver International Airport: 7 points
10. Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport: 6.75 points

We could quibble with some of the entries near the bottom of this list, and how to properly rate the available pet amenities based on the size of the airport and the number of passengers that pass through its terminals each year. But for the most part, we agree with the airports and rankings on this list. Nevertheless, there are a couple things about this list that are potentially misleading. At the very least, we thought could provide more details and context to help our audience understand what to look for with pet travel and airport amenities.

 

JFK and the Ark: The Gold Standard for Pet-Friendly Airports

First, while we’re glad JFK Airport tops the list, the point system doesn’t really capture how far ahead of everybody else they truly are. Airport pet travel is often a balance between visiting modest outdoor dog parks outside of the security area and oversized closets that serve as indoor pet relief inside airport security areas. But JFK’s combination of The Ark (state-of-the-art pet care facility) and the T5 “Wooftop” Terrace (4,000 sq ft. garden patio) has set a new standard for both cargo-based pet care services and post-security pet relief that rivals some of the best dog parks out there. Yes, Atlanta has a lot of relatively nice pet relief areas, but so does Sky Harbor in Phoenix. More than a half-point edge, JFK is playing in a whole other league.

Photo Credit: Paul Rivera for Gensler

 

Amenities vs Access to Pet Relief Areas

Any point rankings system will naturally have to simplify some of the nuance that comes with pet relief areas and other airport amenities. Passengers and their pet travel companions will have different priorities for various pet amenities. Depending on how far your dog likes to roam and how well-trained it is for voice command will likely determine whether you’d prefer a smaller fully-fenced pet relief area or a larger open grassy area outside the airport terminal. In fact, our own pet amenity travel preferences can change from one trip to the next. If we don’t have a lot of extra time before our flight but we want to let our pup out one last time before getting on the plane, then we’re hoping to find even a basic pet relief area on our concourse. If there’s a long flight delay, we’re more interested in a nicer, cleaner pet relief area—even if it means walking over to the next concourse.

Of course, you can’t always get what you want. The takeaway at the end of the day is to know your pet, know your itinerary, know your airline policies, and know your airport policies so that you’re ready to make your pet as comfortable as possible, while also staying flexible for unexpected travel disruptions.

 

What about Airport Cargo Facilities?

As central as pet relief areas are, they’re not the only airport-based pet travel resource. Boarding and pet care programs are easy to take for granted until there’s a major flight delay in a connecting airport and you need help with your pet. But these types of pet care services are also a big part of pet cargo travel, and this is perhaps are biggest gripe with this list. It gives short-thrift to medium-and-large-sized dogs that travel in the cargo hold of the plane.

The access and quality of pet care service programs—both in the terminals and in the cargo facilities—is worth a lot more than half a point. What’s more, this skewed point-value system reinforces the misconception that reliable pet travel can be determined by what you see at the airport, when often it’s neglect and a failure to follow protocols behind the scenes that cause the biggest problems.

 

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