20 Simple Ways to Spend More Time with Your Dog
by Jessi Larson
Today our lives are busier than ever, and it seems like we have less time for important things, like spending quality time with our dogs.
And guess what? It’s statistically true.
According to The Book of Times: From Seconds to Centuries, a Compendium of Measures, pet owners spend only 40 minutes a day with their dogs. A measly 40 minutes!
At the same time, the amount of money spent on pets has risen from $28.5 billion in 2001 to $53 million in 2012.
On the positive side, our dogs certainly aren’t lacking for material goods. On the downside, however, they are lacking something important: quality time with their pup parents.
You likely spend more than 40 minutes a day with your dog. But, if you’re like me, you definitely wish you had more time with your beloved furbaby. (Side note: Is there such thing as a stay at home pet parent? Because I want that job.)
Unfortunately, there’s no way to add hours to the day. But there are many creative ways you can carve out more time with your pup. Here are our 20 favorites.
1. Work out together. Instead of going to the gym, take a walk with your dog. Or go hiking in the dog park. Or include your dog on your run or bike ride. This kills two birds with one stone. You get a good workout and your pup gets some quality time with you.
2. Schedule social dates that involve your dog. Staying social is important. You don’t want to skip seeing friends and family to stay at home with your dog. That’s just not healthy. Instead, do activities where you can bring your dog along. For example, catch up with a friend by taking your dogs for a walk. Or go to a park and have a picnic with dogs in tow.
3. Let loose and have fun. Between work, family obligations, chores, etc., you’ve got plenty on your plate. But all work and no play doesn’t make for a balanced, happy dog parent. You’re due for a little fun. And that can involve your dog! Take time to be silly and play with your furbaby. It’s good for your health.
4. Talk to your pet. When you’re making dinner. Or cleaning. Or doing work. Sure, they might not have your undivided attention but you’re engaging with them and showing you care.
5. Take a day off. Does it feel like your life is out of control and you just have too much going on? Take a day off. Completely clear your calendar and carve out time to spend the entire day with your dog. Go to the park, take them to the groomer or simply snuggle up on the couch.
6. Bring them along on errands. Got lots of places to be and people to see? Bring your dog along. Of course, use good judgment. Don’t leave them in the car if it’s too hot or too cold, or for more than a few minutes.
7. Make extra time. Get extra hours in your day by working smarter. Use your lunch break to do tasks like scheduling appointments and paying bills. Hire someone to mow the lawn so you can use that time to walk your dog. Plan meals ahead for the week so you shave off hours each night.
8. Go to pet-friendly stores together. Got to run errands? Go to pet-friendly places and bring your dog along. Almost all pet stores let you bring your pup, and there are a bunch of other stores that allow furbabies as well.
9. Schedule playdates. Having a tough time making time just for your dog? Put it on the calendar and stick to it.
10. Explore together. Check out local outdoor sites you’ve always wanted to see and bring your dog with. Maybe it’s a cool park, or a local lake or river, or an area of the city that’s walkable.
11. Involve them in outside chores. If you’re a homeowner, we can guess how you spend a big part of your weekend: doing yard work. Mowing the lawn. Watering the lawn. Tending to shrubbery. Raking leaves. Shoveling and snowblowing if you’re in a cold climate.
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 even make the chores more enjoyable. I love raking leaves with Toby. Watching him romp through the leaves warms my heart!
12. Go to a pet event. Feeling like you need to get out of the house and do something? Go to a pet event and bring you pup with. This could include dog meet-up groups in your area and special events hosted by local organizations.
13. Make grooming a bonding experience. Being a dog parent comes with certain grooming duties like baths, brushings, cleaning teeth, cleaning ears, trimming nails, etc. Instead of looking at these like they’re chores, make them a bonding experience. Take the time to talk and connect with your dog during these activities and have some fun in the process.
14. Snuggle up. Do you ever just sit and watch TV or read a book? I’m guessing you just said yes. So, when you’re doing this, call your dog over and invite them in your lap for a little snuggle time. Or if your dog is on the larger side like mine, curling up next to you is a little more appropriate.
15. Bring your dog to outdoor events. Going to watch your nephew’s soccer game or cheering on your friend at their 5K? Bring your pup with! Just be sure to keep them on a leash, bring poop bags and grab some water so they stay hydrated, and you’ll be golden.
16. Make it a family affair. Do you have some days when it feels like you have zero extra time? Call in support from family and friends. See if they can give your dog a little TLC on those oh-so-busy days. Then you can return the favor when your schedule is lighter.
17. Go to 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, bring Fido along.
18. Take a break from the interwebs. I waste a ton of time online. Perusing Facebook. Pinning recipes I’ll never make. Reading the latest update from CNN. And TMZ (not proud of that one). That time could be spent with my dog.
Are you guilty of this? I’d bet almost everyone is.
Why don’t we try this together: Let’s cut out just 15 minutes of screen time a day and focus intently on our dogs. Try it out and see how it feels. I bet it’s far more rewarding than reading the latest celebrity gossip.
19. Evaluate your priorities. It’s easy to get wound up in the day-to-day hustle, but in the grand scheme of things, are you really focusing on the right priorities? For example, do you need to play in two rec sports leagues or could you do just one night and have another evening at home with your dog?
20. Go on a pet-friendly vacation. And finally, if you’re in some serious need of bonding time with your pooch, plan a pet-friendly vacation. It could be a simple road trip to somewhere only a few hours away. The website BringFido.com has a bunch of great ideas.