Your Happy Pet: Belated New Year's resolutions for your dog

February brings more sunshine and the promise of spring. Statistics indicate that February also sees a number of well intentioned New Year's resolutions abandoned or forgotten.

Fortunately, it is not too late to add a new resolution that should be easy to keep. Why not resolve to spend more quality time with your dog?

Your dog may have a basket overflowing with toys. He can fill his time playing with a few or make doggie-toy confetti out of them, but he would have much more fun playing with you. Interactive activities are rewarding for you and your dog.

Here are some suggestions:

Dogs love the individual attention they get when walking with their favorite human. Take only short walks at first, especially if your dog has been living a couch potato existence. Lengthen the walks as your dog and perhaps you gain fitness. Take different routes to keep things interesting. You and your dog may make human and dog friends that you wish to visit regularly. Please note, this is not a time to talk or text on your cellphone. This is time for you and your dog.

Teaching a dog to play fetch can take a bit of time, but once mastered, most dogs love it. Teach your dog to nose a favorite toy when you say "fetch" and quickly give him a treat. He will soon associate the word with a treat. Start to toss the toy a few feet when you say "fetch" and have a treat ready so he will return with the toy. He will quickly learn, and you can lengthen tosses when he is ready.

A simple twist on fetch is to quickly roll a ball in one direction and wait for your dog to return it. Rapidly roll it in another direction. You will soon have your dog getting great exercise by zigzagging around a fairly large area. He will enjoy the interaction with you and won't realize it is exercise.

Hide and seek is another simple game that most dogs love. Take a couple of plastic cups that are large enough to hold a tennis ball. Show your dog the ball and place it under one of the cups. Shuffle them and let your dog try to find the ball. It will be fun to watch him sniff and poke at cups until he finds the ball. Pique his interest by rubbing the ball with his favorite tasty treat before you start the game.

Tug-of-war is an old standby that is a natural outlet for dogs to tug and play with things with their mouths. Choose any favorite soft toy. You should give permission for your dog to grab the toy and tug. A bit of growling should not upset you. You know your dog and should be able to distinguish between an aggressive growl and an exuberant, fun tug-of-war growl. Just have fun.

Make 2014 a great year for you and your dog. Spend lots of time together and share the love.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at HolisticTouchTherapy.com