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We’re one week into 2018, and I have a question: How many of your New Year’s Resolutions have you broken already? Did your promise to go to the gym every day turn into one trip before you gave up because it was too hard or too crowded? Were you going to end a bad habit but have already gone back to it? How long did your diet last?

If you haven’t managed to keep any of your resolutions, don’t feel bad. You’re only human, and the problem with picking an arbitrary start for things like this is that we’re not necessarily ready. So you get a second chance. And a third. And as many as you need. But I’m going to help, because rather than using the calendar to make those resolutions, I’ve got a secret weapon for you.

It’s hard to be motivated by a random event or an inanimate object, like a calendar. But it’s a lot easier to be motivated by a living being, and if you have dogs in the house (or any other pets, let’s not discriminate) they can be your biggest motivation to succeed at making those self-improvements.

So instead of making an arbitrary resolution based on the date, make a promise to your dogs — and then make them your witnesses. It may sound silly, but tell them what you want to do, then tell them when you’re doing it. They really won’t understand the meaning of what you’re saying, but they will sense your positive mood with every success you have, and in that way they will provide you with encouragement to keep going.

And unlike humans, dogs are non-judgmental. They won’t criticize you for those times that you backslide a little bit, so you don’t have to be afraid of admitting your weaknesses to them, either.

Depending on what you’re trying to do, your dogs can also provide a much bigger motivation. For example, if your resolutions are health-oriented, then your purpose is to make sure that you’re around for a long time because your dog needs you. If you want to lose weight, doing so will make it easier to walk your dog as much as you have to. If you want to quit smoking, remember that your dog’s nose is much more sensitive than yours, and she will appreciate the clean air even more than you do — not to mention be much less likely to develop diseases from second-hand smoke.

Health resolutions work both ways, too. If your dog is overweight, then it’s up to you to help him with the slimming process so that he can be with you as long as possible. If you haven’t been walking your dog enough, then you owe him finding the time to do so more often. And if your dog has misbehavior issues, now is as good a time as any to fix them.

The best part to having a goal, for you or your dog, is that it can inspire you to become informed in order to know what to do, and my website is full of information to teach you about what your dog does, why she does it, and how you can correct misbehaviors. There’s also plenty about nutrition, dog care, and just fun dog news and information in general.

My resolution to my dogs this year is to continue to bring you the education, inspiration, and motivation you need to make sure that 2018 is the best year ever for you and your furry loved ones. Happy New Year, and welcome to the next part of our journey!

Speaking of journeys, I recently returned from Puerto Rico, where I had gone to assist the shelters and rescues that had been affected by Hurricane Maria. As I went, I reached out to all of you to help out through my Cesar Millan PACK Project, and everyone really stepped it up. Together, we raised almost $20,000 to help rebuild these vital projects and help the other victims of the storm — the dogs. Thank you for your generosity. It really means a lot to me!

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