Dogs are family for life, but our time with our Dogs is limited.
If you’re wondering how to balance a busy life and spend quality time with your furry family, here are a few suggestions.
Most of us share the human experience of being caught in this hectic reality. We all know how difficult it can be to schedule quality time with our pets. Typically, the whirlwind starts on Monday morning, ending on Sunday night only to begin all over again. Time keeps on slipping by as we rush to complete daily tasks while attempting to juggle family, work, school, commitments, errands, and social schedules. If we are lucky, we squeeze in a little time for ourselves just to relax, do a creative activity, or work out. Many families are forced to accept this and settle for family time during the major holidays. We all know that this is not enough because the small moments of joy and quality time spent together is what helps us nurture our relationships, live a happier and healthier life, deepen our bonds, and show each other that we care.
According to studies, pet parents only spend about 40 minutes a day with their dogs!
You probably actually spend more than 40 minutes a day with your dog, but if you’re like us, you definitely wish you had more time with your beloved furry family member.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to add hours to the day, so we have to discover creative ways to carve out more time with your pup.
With some slight modifications, you can tailor your daily activities to include interactions with your dog. There are a few easy and effective ways to spend time with them, thereby relating to them and cultivate an unparalleled bond.
Here is a list of simple, engaging and mindful activities that can make a big difference in your relationship with your dog.
Check them out and get inspired.
What better way is there for you to spend quality time with your dog and improve your own health at the same time!
Instead of going to the gym – take a walk with your dog, go hiking, go to the beach or a lake, or go to a park. You can also simply include your dog your when you go for a run or bike ride. There are many other less strenuous exercise events that you can do together such as stretching, or even doing yoga together.
You can do an activity for both yourself and your dog that promotes a healthy lifestyle and provides an opportunity to instill healthy habits and strengthen bonds. You get a good workout, and your best friend gets some quality time with you.
Thats what we call a win/win.
If you’re not able to exercise, spending time with your dog can be a motivating factor to just quickly get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air, nature, sunshine, and quality time together. For example, be open to spontaneous longer walks or even schedule them a few times a week. Spending time outside is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and it’s even better on a long walk with your dog. Find the nearest park, trail, forest, or beach and breathe in some fresh air, explore nature and enjoy the dynamic of life. Explore together. Check out local outdoor sites that you’ve always wanted to see and bring your dog with you. Maybe it’s a cool park, or a local lake or river, or an area of the city that’s walk-able and dog friendly.
Schedule Social Dates That Involve Your Dog
Having a social life is important. Since it’s unhealthy and unrealistic to stay home with your dog all the time, you’ll want to get out to see family and friends. Why not bring your dog along?
If your friends are expecting you and your guest, it’s actually quite easy to do. You can catch up with a friend by taking a walk together with your dog. If possible, go to the park, the beach, the lake, or a scenic setting and have a picnic, all with your dog by your side.
Why not go try an outdoor cafe?
Many restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating allow you to bring dogs. So if you’re meeting up with someone for a bite, call the restaurant and confirm its OK and then bring your pup along.
There are also many pet specific events going on at all times. You can also search for dog meet-up groups, meet at dog parks, or find special events hosted by local organizations.
You can bring your dog to most outdoor events.
Going to watch your nephew’s soccer game or cheering on your friend at an outdoor event? Bring your pup with you!
Just be sure to observe the rules and always keep them on a leash. Bring poop bags and grab some water so they stay hydrated, and you’ll be all set.
Talk to Your Pet
It may sound silly, but it’s important to communicate with your animals. There are many studies that suggest that talking to plants improves a plants health. The same holds true for our dogs.
Animals are sentient beings and engaging with them is important. Talk to your pet like a conversation. You can talk to your pet during any number of activities such as when you’re making dinner, doing yard work/gardening, cleaning the house, or doing a creative project.
While they might not talk back in your language, the attention and engagement that you are giving them is one way of showing you care.
Do Chores Together
Chores don’t always have to be serious and boring. Dogs are great at teamwork and keeping things fun. Involve them in your outside chores for a start and see how it goes.
If you spend a big part of your weekend doing yard work like mowing the lawn, gardening, tending to shrubbery, raking leaves or watering the lawn, your dog would love to assist or at least be out there with you. In colder weather, shoveling and snow blowing can also be more fun with your dogs help.
There are many chores and there’s no way around it. But, you can make it more fun by including your dog. Having a cute furbaby by your side can only make the chores more enjoyable. There’s tremendous joy in just watching your dog have fun, plow into the raked leaves or jump though the water.
If you’re cooking, you can chat with your dog while also carefully allowing your dog to appreciate a little food variety in their diet. Instead of throwing away certain ingredients like carrot or celery ends, a mushy blueberry or parts of the apple, let your dog try something new.
Chores don’t have to be boring when you do them together. They’re an excellent opportunity to have some fun and bond.
Run Errands Together
Bringing you’re dog along while doing errands together has several benefits. For us, it’s the best thing ever really.
For one, it’s more fun together and those errands sure seem to get finished a lot faster! Also you’re spending time outside of the house, which is good for everyone. You can spice it up a bit with a reward break after completing your errands! Make a quick stop for a sunset walk, or a chat with another pet parent in a park, and more.
Another fun thing to do is shopping at pet-friendly stores together.
Almost all pet stores let you bring your pup inside! In addition, there are a bunch of other types of stores that allow fur babies as well.
Of course, use good judgment. Do not ever leave your dog in the car if it’s too hot or too cold, nor for more than a few minutes at maximum. Also, dogs are not big fans of shopping, so don’t take your fur baby to stores for a super long shopping spree, or stores filled with lots and lots of people. More times than not, it’s really no fun for them.
Make Grooming a Bonding Experience
Being a dog parent comes with certain grooming duties like baths, brushings, cleaning teeth, cleaning ears, trimming nails, etc. You can do the grooming chores yourself while bonding with your dog and saving money. It’s as easy as prepping your bathroom with towels or going to a do-it-yourself pet wash. In the summer, you may find it fun to go outside to groom your dog. Take the time to talk and connect with your dog during this activity and have fun in the process! Instead of looking at this like it’s a chore, allow it to be an opportunity for fun and bonding.
Plan for Road Trips
If your schedule allows, taking short monthly trips to another city, to the countryside, or into the wild with your dog is an excellent way of spending quality time together.
Traveling like this can be unwinding, energizing and exciting in itself. From the moment you start packing to the minute that you arrive at the destination, just make it about the journey, not necessarily the destination. Quick trips help us relax, decompress, and reconnect with each other, enrich our lives with new experiences, and they leave enough room for spontaneous adventures that we will remember for the rest of our lives.
If you decide to go on a road trip with your pup, you can make great photo and video memories. Just be sure to plan a pet-friendly vacation.
Giving back to the community is one great answer to the question how to spend quality time with your pup.
Contributing to a greater cause together is rewarding and fun.
There are many ways dogs can participate, whether it’s with kids, the elderly or Veterans. There are even special training programs for this and your dog can earn a certificate!
Even without a certificate, you can simply spend time in different communities to give back while bonding with your dog. The list is endless. You can help the elderly by running their errands, reading a book, or just chatting and letting them interact with your dog. People coping with illness also appreciate the healing, joy, and unconditional love dogs can bring. You can help a Veteran by simply being there with your dog and letting the dog do the healing. You can help the homeless who rarely get to interact with dogs or humans on a positive level. Maybe even help in a soup kitchen or shelter. You can also help clean up a neighborhood with pup in tow. Dogs are healing and they have plenty of healing energy for everyone.
Volunteering helps bring people of all ages, genders, races, and classes together in a solidarity action, and your pup can contribute and be a part of that.
Let loose and have fun.
Between work, family obligations, chores, you’ve got plenty on your plate. But all work and no play doesn’t make for a balanced and happy dog parent.
You’re due for a little fun and you deserve it. Your dog does too, so be sure to involve them!
Take time to be silly and play with your fur baby. It’s actually good for your health.
Learn a New Skill
You may want to learn a new skill like yoga, painting, skiing, crafting, cooking or dancing. Your pup would love to be a part of that experience and join you. A relaxed human yields a relaxed pup.
Super bonus if you make time by aiming to be the best dog parent ever and learning how to train your dog! This is an important and fun activity that is beneficial for you and your dog, and increases the bond that you have with each other. Fun new skills you can teach your dog include swimming, fetching, going down a slide, and more. The list of activities is endless.
When you’re relaxing, sitting and watching TV, or reading a book, it’s a great time to snuggle up. Just call your dog over and invite them to curl up next to you or get up on your lap for a little together time.
Turn the phone off and take a break from the internet. Make extra time.
Many people – myself included– spend a ton of time online. Whether we are researching, studying, perusing social media, reading the latest news, or getting updated on some celebrity drama. That time could be better spent with your dog.
Don’t feel guilty. Just put your phone down, set it to silent or put it in airplane mode or, gasp, turn it off. Imagine if you could cut out just 15 minutes of screen time a day and replace that time with undivided attention to your dog! Try it out and see how it feels. I bet it’s far more rewarding.
Set Aside Time
Having a tough time making time just for your dog? Put it on the calendar and stick to it. Make time for your dog every week. You don’t have to plan anything grand, just commit to it and then plan to spend that time doing something fun and enjoyable with and for your pup.
Evaluate Your Priorities
It’s easy to get stressed by, and caught up in the day-to-day hustle. However, in the grand scheme of things, are you really focusing on the right priorities?
Are you all work and no play, all hustle and no quality life? Do you ever have fun and relax? Have another evening at home with your dog!
If you take a hard look at your schedule, you may find you could take a few things off the calendar and not miss them.
The Bottom Line.
At the end of the day, we all know how to spend quality time with our dogs, our loved ones, our closest family; kind words, active listening, paying attention, showing we care. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.