HankThis time every year when we begin an exciting time of renewal and reflection, it affords us an opportunity to start fresh again with a clean slate and plans for a fabulous new beginning. Although our canine companions may not entirely understand the new year and calendar like we do, this new start and time of year is a great time to include our dogs into our plans for greatness, health, vitality, and prosperity.

Humans often make resolutions that include travel, fitness, or weight loss. Why not incorporate these goals into an enhanced quality of life for the dogs we hold so dear?

Perhaps you like to travel but have not ventured into the great unknown with your dog? Maybe it’s time to set some goals with respect to taking your canine companion along more often for the fun and enjoyment of road trips or camping.

In order to get your dog out and enjoying a more adventurous lifestyle of exploration, you may need to brush up on some manners or commands with your dog. This is a great time to set these goals or make a resolution to teach a few new commands or brush up on existing ones. You might consider better hygiene habits for your dog in 2013. Dental hygiene and great grooming can get overlooked during the busy holiday season. Set some goals in these areas and your dog will be happy as he travels in style more often.

Maybe this is the year you will improve your health and that of your furry friend as well. Together you will have lots more fun and enjoy the goal setting and achieving as a team. Could this be the year you both get in better shape by making a resolution to walk, run, jog, or swim together on a regular basis?

Speaking of health, excellent food choices are equally important to dogs and humans for optimum health. A good place to start might be to resolve to cut out low quality food choices for both of you. Together you can both look and feel great with improved nutrition this year.

Here are a few sample canine-related New Year Resolutions. See if any of these strike a cord for you or make your own that are better suited to your lifestyle and needs. And remember to make 2013 a fabulous new beginning for you and your dog.

1.Walk the dog for 30 minutes three times a week.

2.Take at least two vacations per year with the dog.

3.Switch to healthy grain-free, high-quality protein diet. (both dog and owner)

4.Begin a good weekly dental hygiene program with the dog.

5.Teach a new command each month: down/stay/leave it/wait

6.Crate train the dog.

7.Train the dog to be a therapy dog, or service dog, or emotional support dog.

8.Groom the dog monthly, or buy a new grooming tool and resolve to use it each week.

Carmel L. Mooney is the editor of Roadtripsforcouples.com, an online travel magazine. Carmel ‘s been on local talk radio for 17 years and now co-hosts THE GOOD LIFE with Mike the Wine Guy on KMYC 1410AM. Her family travel column can be read in California Kids Magazine at: valcomnews.comYou can follow her on Twitter: @CarmelLeeMooney or Facebook. Carmel is also the Executive Director of Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions, a non-profit that trains and places Autism Service Dogs. You can read her service dog blog at: www.pawsitivesolutions.org