Spending time with your dog is much more valuable than showering him with toys and treats. Here’s a few ways you can build your bond through experiences!

Our dogs give us so much – unconditional love, companionship, a sympathetic ear, and a loving slurp on the face when we’re feeling down. Is it any wonder that we want to return the favor by showering them with gifts? According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans will spend an estimated $75 billion on their pets in 2019. But while your furry friend will certainly enjoy a new toy and look snazzy in that rhinestone collar, what she really wants is to bond with you!

That doesn’t mean you have to devote several hours each day to your dog (as much as you may want to). Even if you have just a couple of minutes here and there, make your time together count by giving her the attention she deserves. By enjoying the little moments with your pup, you’ll help deepen your bond and create memories that last a lifetime. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Practice therapeutic touch

You don’t have to be an expert canine masseuse to ensure your pet gets all the benefits of therapeutic touch. Curl up together on the couch or get comfy on the floor. Start by slowly petting her using long strokes. Then begin gently massaging her body in circular motions from head to tail. Not only will your dog feel great, you will, too! Studies show that petting an animal lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety in both pets and people.

Explore someplace new

Dogs and people share an affinity for newness.  But as we all know, the “new” quickly wears off of material things like cars and squeaky toys. However, studies have shown that dogs and humans find new experiences much more rewarding. Experiences activate different parts of the brain and engage the senses in a whole different way. Even just taking a different route on your walk will make you both more aware of your surroundings, and result in you feeling closer to each other.

Create a morning or evening ritual

As much as dogs love new experiences, they still crave routine. And if you’re part of their routine, that’s even better! Think of ways to create little rituals for the two of you to make these routines more special. For example, spend a little extra time outside with your buddy in the morning, enjoying the sunrise together, instead of rushing back inside. Or when you settle in for the evening, indulge in a little something delicious together. Maybe a fancy chocolate for you and a doggie dessert for him?

Life goes by so fast. Take time to slow down, inhale deeply, and enjoy meaningful, shared experiences with your precious pup.